ICC defends elimination of runners

The ICC felt that it would be better to not allow the use of runners because there has been abuse of the rule in the past Getty Images

Hong Kong: June 30, 2011

International Cricket Council chief Haroon Lorgat on Thursday defended the governing body’s decision to abolish “runners” in One-Day International matches, suggesting batsmen were using them to cheat.

The batsman’s right to call on a substitute runner in case of injury has been an established part of cricket for more than a century but the ICC believes there has been widespread abuse of the system.

“It’s been considered by the cricket committee… and there has been a strong feeling that runners were used not in the right spirit,” Lorgat told a media conference in Hong Kong.

“It’s quite a difficult one for umpires to determine whether there has been a real injury to batters or whether it was a tactical use of runners.”

The use of runners had long been a sore point in cricket before the ICC announced the abolition at its annual conference in Hong Kong this week.

In the 2009 Champions Trophy, England’s Andrew Strauss declined Graeme Smith’s request for a runner, after the South African claimed he had cramp when he was on 124 with his team needing 69 from 36 balls to stay in the tournament.

The ICC backed Strauss’s decision, saying cramp was a side-effect of fatigue rather than an injury in itself.

“If a bowler gets injured you can’t continue bowling for the rest of the day and the feeling was that it would be better to not allow the use of runners because there has been abuse in the past,” Lorgat said.

The move has received a mixed reaction among pundits and ex-players, with legendary Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar telling Indian media that if runners were to be banned the ICC should also outlaw drinks for the bowlers at the boundary and substitutes for injured fielders.

The decision was among a number of reforms aimed at revitalising the one-day game, including the use of new balls at each end, batting and bowling Powerplays to be taken between overs 16 and 40 and captains to be suspended after only two over-rate breaches in a year.