My son got run out a few weeks ago. It wasn’t the first time. He was running to the danger end and said no but his teammate had hit it and wanted the run. So he kept coming and my son kept going. Like every other batsman to have ever played the game. He is 9 years old and was inconsolable. Cricket is a hard game and getting run out is tough.
Running between the wickets is perhaps the one skill that professionals can be just as poor at as park cricketers. Graeme Wood is a case in point. As a 22 year-old in his first series against the English in 1978/79, he opened in each of the 6 tests . Somewhat unbelievably he managed to run himself or his partner out in an innings of each test! I can still vividly recall the commentators’ tut tutting growing louder as the carnage played out over the course of the summer.
Whilst Wood went on to play for Australia for almost a decade and clearly got better at the caper, he probably did a fair amount of soul searching at the time. As anyone who has ever run someone out will testify, it has an immediate impact on the miscreant – the often heard call of ‘Yes. No. Wait…Sorry.’ is testimony to this, as is the redoubling of effort to make a score as remorse sets in. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. In that series Wood made a creditable 344, whilst his 3 partners at the other end combined for 226.
So when my son got run out yet again this last weekend I told him the story of Wood, his 78/79 season and broader career. It didn’t help.
But if there’s a worse feeling than being run out by your team mate, it’s having them do so without you facing a ball. So I told him about a 40-degree day in the summer of 1988/89 in the tiny Northern Victorian town of Nyah.
It was my first innings for a new club in a new town and I was keen to impress. There were a few things in my favour; the fielding team were visibly wilting, having been taken for a ton before the first drinks and I had smote them in the nets during the week.
When I got to the crease I was quietly confident; this confidence was entirely misplaced. As I backed up at the non-striker’s end I watched my older and hitherto wiser teammate belt a superb cover drive. Such was the ferocity of the shot and his pleasure with it that he yelled ‘Yes’ without a second thought. Despite me shouting ‘No’, he was past the point of no return before I knew it. And the ball was in the hands of the keeper shortly thereafter. My batting partner kept coming and I kept going. Like every other batsman to have ever played the game.
As I trudged off dejectedly I recall the stock standard words of wisdom from my new team mates to the effect of; “bad luck”, “there was never a run in it” and “what was he thinking?”.
When I finished the story my son turned to me and said “who do you think will be eliminated on I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here tonight Dad?”. It didn’t help.