Running in cricket, like passing and tackling in soccer in rugby, is the means by which rhythm is provided to keep a game flowing.
Sixes and fours may keep crowds entertained, but without the scurrying between the white lines, the game would lose much of its appeal.
The importance of the quick single cannot be understated at any stage of a game, as it is an excellent pressure-release tool. Once singles dry up, teams
have to find other ways of scoring runs.
That means lofting shots over the infield, which increases the risk of getting caught.
Running between the wickets is a basic skill that is taught before one learns how to push forward or lean back while batting.
But it is a skill that seems to be disappearing from South Africa’s armoury.
The Proteas got away with dodgy running against Pakistan, where they accrued four run-outs, but that was not always the case.
Their opening game of the Champions Trophy against India saw two run-outs, and those swung the game decisively in India’s favour after South Africa had been keeping up with the run rate.
AB de Villiers and JP Duminy’s run-outs robbed South Africa of crucial momentum at Edgbaston before the bowling attack worked its magic.
It seemed as though South Africa had not learnt from its past run-out lessons.
Earlier this year, in Kimberley, they were on the receiving end of five run-outs, which saw New Zealand win the series.
There have also been many examples of crucial run-outs swinging the pendulum in key games.
In two consecutive World Cups, AB de Villiers was involved in two run-outs that led to South African losses.
Shane Watson’s rocket throw from the deep fine leg boundary at St Kitts in 2007 caught him short, while Martin Guptill did the same from short mid-wicket in Mirpur.
As in rugby and soccer, where a missed tackle or stray pass can be costly, a run-out has the same potential.
Whether or not teams have whippets between the wickets, it comes down to nothing if the running between the wickets is not flash.
Run-outs settled the first World Cup final in 1975 and they will always be game breakers.
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