Upping the Run Rate

Brad Chin1

by Kevin Keys

Upping the run rate

There are stages in a game where it may be necessary to “throw caution to the wind” and take more risks than normal. This does not mean that you have to be reckless and throw your wicket away. However you need to score boundaries, so must have a batting plan for this situation:

  • Play each delivery on its merits; do not preplan your stroke before the ball has been bowled.
  • Remain relaxed, watch the ball right on to your bat.
  • Play regular cricket strokes; don’t try and invent a stroke that is not in the coaching manuals.
  • Keep your balance and play off a firm base.
  • Try to turn the deliveries into half volleys through quick and accurate footwork.
  • Maximise your chances of success by playing strokes that you know you have mastered.

Volunteer to open the batting

If you want to learn the art of batting, opening is the best position to be in. You have the following advantages when opening the innings:

  • You have less pressure on you to score quickly at the start of your innings.
  • You have the longest available time to make a big score.
  • Runs are often easier to score because of more attacking fields, a harder ball, and faster bowling, which make it easier to stroke the ball to the boundaries or past the infield.
  • You generally get to face the better bowlers, thereby improving your skill levels.

Backing-up

By the time the ball arrives at the facing batter’s end you should be 1-2 metres down the pitch, ready to run. The lesson here is that the shorter the distance you have to run, the less chance you have of being run-out. Be wary, of course, of the straight drive which may risk being deflected by the bowler on to the stumps, and so be ready to quickly scamper back into the crease.

Calling

Every delivery should be called, even if it goes straight through to the wicket-keeper. The general rule is that any ball hit in front of the wicket should be called by the striking batter, while any ball hit behind the wicket should be called by the non-striker. There is one exception to this general rule, which is where the ball is hit towards a short third man fielder. The striker knows how fast the ball is moving and is in a better position to know whether the non-striker will be able to make a quick run.

If you are planning to make a quick single, be aware that a batter who has played a front foot stroke is in a better position to accelerate forward than a batter who is deep back in his crease after playing a back foot stroke.

The following general rules apply when calling:

  • Do not hesitate. If in doubt go back.
  • The first call should be one of “yes”, “no”, or “wait”. Subsequent calls could involve “come one”, “one”, “look for two”, “come two”, “come three”, “one for the throw”.
  • If you are the non-striker, watch your partner in the first instance rather than the ball and if he calls for a run obey the call unless it is clearly too risky.
  • Do not “ball watch” when you are running away from the ball, as this slows your running speed. Rely on your partner to communicate to you what is happening behind you. Especially useful here is “your end” to alert him of a throw heading towards the end he is running towards. You can also call out advice such as “look for two”.
  • If you have a batting partner whom you regularly bat with, you may be able to develop non-verbal signals involving eye contact and small head movements. This will be unsettling to the fielding side and will often catch them unawares.

As you become more experienced you will find that you will start to know how many runs a shot is worth immediately it leaves your bat.