Monday, 7 February 2011

Run out

That flamboyant opening bat Oscar Wilde once said, 'There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.'   Wrong.  The proper quote is 'There are only three tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, another is getting it and the third is getting run out.'

Apparently Wilde shortened the epigram when his effete friends objected to the original more extended version which ended '..getting run out by some moronic plonker who calls 'Yes.  No. Yes.' and then thinks you can run at 50 mph.'
Run outs are true drama - tragedy and farce mixed together - a reminder forever of how small and frail we human beings are against the power of the universe.

The spate of run outs of Australian batters during the recent Ashes got Fantasy Bob thinking.   So fleet of foot is FB that he can only recall being run out once in his career.  This is probably because when FB strides to the wicket, the fielders soon realise that they needn't really stretch themselves because it will be less effort all round if the bowler just puts the ball on the stumps - so high is the probability of it getting through FB's wafer thin defence. 

What is it therefore with such as Ricky Ponting who holds the world record for being run out in Tests - 14 times?   One of these was most famously by Gary Pratt during the 2005 Ashes series which brought the gentleman out in Ponting.  As he returned to the Pavilion he used all kinds of Australian philosophical terminology in the general direction of England coach Duncan Fletcher.  The great Steve Waugh was involved in 27 run outs in his Test career, although only in 4 of these was he the one dismissed.  Fancy a long partnership with him?  Fancy your chances of telling him that it was his fault and he should buck up on his calling? 

Another hero of the run out is undoubtedly Inzaman, who was run out 40 times in ODIs, (although Atapattu beats him by one).  Imzaman was the man who could turn an easy 2 into a scrambled single.

Friends again - at the end of the match
But the crown of most celebrated run out is keenly contested.   For FB the choice is Derek Randall's mix up with Boycott at Trent Bridge in 1977 (described here by John Arlott). There was so much context - Randall's home crowd, Boycott's return from the years in the wilderness - and of course Boycott went on to score 100.    Death threats against Boycs.  Randall's agony was partly eased by being at the crease (ironically with Boycott at the other end) when the winning runs were scored.

Boycott was also the centre of another celebrated incident in New Zealand in 1978 when Ian Botham claims to have run him out deliberately because of his slow scoring rate.  Another life long friendship followed.
Denis Compton was another great who occasionally misjudged a run.  Several partners attest to his unique call of 'Yes...........and good luck.'

But it is not only the elite of the game who get themselves in a muddle.  Here are 4 excerpts from recent seasons' Carlton match reports which show the infinite variety of disaster that can happen in the lower levels and the endless opportunity they give to the match reporter.  Two of these reports are FB's, the others are masterpieces from the pen of the great Shaun Barnacle.

Richard Allardice making his cameo appearance of the season opened the batting with Everett #2 (ie Euan).   Richard's cameo was unfortunately very short.  Run out without facing, as Euan demonstrated once again the difference in acceleration between a 13 year old - 0 to 22 yards in the blink of an eye - and  the older model - 0 well........... a bit less than 22 4 times the time.

This brought towering Scots pine Fantasy Bob to the wicket.  His first act was to run Angus out, following an extended mid-wicket negotiation about all the practical aspects of a second run which omitted to include a critical assessment of the probability of Angus actually making his ground.  Bah!
Carlton welcomed the lean, speedy Alan Pedgrift for his Carlton debut and sent him out to open with snail paced Barnacle Barrett..... What could possibly go wrong?  We soon found out.....a firm push to cover, an early call and an immediate response saw Barrett (5) run out by a Scottish cricket record of 17 yards.
2 weeks later:
Carlton’s opening pair of the young athletic Pedgrift and “even slower than you think” Barrett are reminiscent of Peter Andre and Katie Price....looks attractive on paper but fundamentally a doomed relationship.   Pedgrift called an easy single, Barrett responded and was run out by a third of the pitch – the calling and the response were excellent, it’s just that the pair’s understanding of physics is flawed.
And if you've an empty afternoon in front of you with only the prospect of daytime TV to maintain your grasp on reality; turn to YouTube, type in run out, and sit back and enjoy (or not).

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