It’s a club game on a typical summer afternoon. Tell me if what I saw is a familiar story.
The opening batsman are being tied down by some accurate medium pace bowling. After 10 overs the score is 18-0.
Seeing that he needs to get on with it, one opener plays a defensive nudge towards cover and makes a dash for a quick single. His partner is looking for it too and they make it home. In the next few overs they do more of the same, making the scoreboard look a little fuller before the first wicket falls.
This tip and run tactic had saved the team from a grindingly low score.
Yet they had wasted the first few overs by not looking for these singles and twos.
Score more off non-boundary balls
For me this is one of the big differences between average and good club (and school) sides.
Boundaries are important, but good sides know how to score more off balls that are not boundaries too, and that can add 50 or more runs to a score when you do it right.
And so every batsman at every level should be playing tip-and-run right from the first ball.
It’s an add-on to good batting, not an either-or situation.
Tip and run mentality
For most players it’s simply a matter of mentality.
For example club batsmen play a defensive shot and hold the pose. Professional level players instantly look to see if a single is on. Even if they don’t pinch a run, they are looking (and so is the non striker).
So the first step is to start looking for that extra single to nab.
But to become a good judge you need some other things too.
Read the fielders
Firstly, you need to know how to play the percentages. Start reading the fielders as soon as you can (even before you go out to bat) and look for:
- Left- and right-handers. So you know which the weaker side is for each fielder.
- Those who stay on their toes and those who relax and can be caught on their heels.
- The fast and slow fielders.
- The fielders with good and bad throwing arms.
- Whether the ‘keeper is up or back
- Gaps in the field (careful with this one as good captains often lay traps)
Every time you notice a weakness and act on it you are adding extra runs to your total, all without risk.
Trust your partner
You also need to trust whoever is at the other end that if you can for a single (or he does) there is little risk to the run.
Some partners have an instinctive relationship; others just let one player make all the decisions. For most pairs, you need to develop an understanding of how each other thinks and judges a run.
The best way to do this (apart from batting together) is to practice your running together. Not only will you both get better at judging a run but you will get better at knowing how your partner judges a run.
And if you have some ‘unique’ runners in your side, that’s a critical skill to have.