South Africa v England, Group B, Centurion September 27, 2009

'You shouldn't get a runner for cramps, full stop' - Strauss


England's ultimately comfortable passage to the semi-finals of the ICC Champions Trophy was marred by a moment of controversy towards the end of the night at Centurion, when Andrew Strauss refused Graeme Smith a runner. Smith, who batted 216 minutes in all after having spent a session in the field, was clearly unhappy when AB de Villiers was asked to head back to the pavilion, and Mickey Arthur, the South African coach, was seen swearing in frustration. Smith was dismissed soon after for 141, and South Africa eventually fell 12 runs short of the 313 that would have given them a mathematical chance of survival in the competition.

"I was cramping quite badly and I requested a runner," said Smith later. "Andrew spoke with the umpires and turned it down. He felt that if you score a hundred, you're going to be tired. From my perspective, it felt a touch inconsistent. Guys have got runners for cramps in the past, so there needs to be a degree of consistency there. This is the frustration that we have."

Strauss's take was obviously very different. "He asked me for a runner because he was cramping," he said. "The umpires were not particularly keen to give him one. I felt that at the end of a long game, after a long innings, you're going to be tired. Cramping to a certain extent is a preparation thing. To a certain extent, it's a conditioning thing. I didn't feel that he merited having a runner at that stage."

Smith insinuated that the Strauss decision may have had something to do with the suggestions of softness that resulted in him recalling Angelo Mathews during England's victory over Sri Lanka on Friday night. "I'm not going to sit here and slag Andrew and say that he should have done this or that," he said. "The decision rests with the umpires as well. From my perspective, it's just about putting it behind me now. The thing I've learned from this game is that the world's round. It's going to come back somewhere in the game, at some period of time in his captaincy. It'll be interesting to see how he handles it again."

Strauss was of the view that the refusal of a runner had nothing at all to do with the run out-obstruction incident. "You just go with each situation as it comes," he said. "I think the umpires were very uncomfortable with it as well. My personal view is that you shouldn't get a runner for cramps, full stop."

When it was pointed out that batsmen had been allowed runners in the past while suffering from cramps, he said: "That's something for the ICC to look at. I didn't feel he was cramping that badly either. He was still able to run. That was my view."

Despite the disappointment of defeat, Smith still found time to smile when he was reminded of the fact that Arjuna Ranatunga, the former Sri Lankan captain, frequently asked for and was given runners. "I don't know if I want to be likened to Arjuna," he said. "I think I've worked quite hard in the winter [laughs]. From our perspective, it was a crucial period of the game. I was on the field for 95 overs and just felt it was inconsistent, that's all."

Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Amol on September 29, 2009, 5:04 GMT

    I'm an Indian & a SA-fan. I think cramps is a fitness issue & not an ijury. And I hope the umpires did what they thought was right. But why Strauss was seen nodding (with his head) such an EMPHATIC 'NO' when umpires just only asked for his opinion is beyond me. There should have been a BIG 'NO' for Runners long, long before back then in cricket. But I think ICC is weak and can't take any decisions on some facts like : 1. Runners 2. Why are day/night games being played which r largely unfair anyway ? Even if Namibia wins the toss, they can beat SA/Australia in a Day/Night game. 3. Why is cricket the only game where toss plays such a HUGE role ? 4. When will ICC ban T20s which is kill Art/Skills of a sportsman and reduce the ODI slightly by trimming off 10 overs each in each innings & divide the innings into 4 equal alternate innings of 20 overs each ? That way if a guy loving T20 will also love it too.

    Finally, to Smith...Well done & beat Eng 5-0 (Tests) & blank them in ODIs.

  • Panduka on September 29, 2009, 4:54 GMT

    Runners should be abolished from the game. This is the only sport where you have pplayes keep playing even if they are injured. Its not fare to anybody and only serves the batsmen. And batsmen has enough liberties in the game as it stands.

  • miraj on September 29, 2009, 4:52 GMT

    in case of tendulkar..compaq cup final was the first time he had ever taken a runner. mostly he has played through the pain but it is true that he would not come on the field after that type of the field..strauss was absolutely right in not allowing the runner to smith, u saw with ryder..when u r injured and can not run..u can just stand than play your shots..

  • Val on September 29, 2009, 3:42 GMT

    Ah well Mr Strauss, I am sure that though Graeme Smith may be a gentleman when you visit our shores later this year, that there are a lot of South African fans who watched while you played revolving fielders thoughout the Ashes series who will, like our elephants, remember. If your poor bowlers need to go into the shade after a mere bowling spell, I guess we will remember Graeme after 3.5 hours in the field in 30 degree heat and over 3 hours batting suffering from cramp. We will also remember how many other cramped players were allowed to have a runner. We will remember the issues with Collingwood and the Kiwi's and the pommie need to win at all costs. And maybe too we will make sure that you too remember!

  • Nathan on September 29, 2009, 3:31 GMT

    I think Strauss may have been a bit harsh but his decision is understandable. Utlimately it is up to the umpires anyway, and where do you draw the line if runners start being allowed for cramp? It will end up like the old days where someone like ranatunga could get a runner every game, merely on the basis of being a fat, out of shape, cheat, and we don't want that again.

  • Arun Kumar on September 29, 2009, 3:20 GMT

    Whether allow a runner for a batsman is totaly depend on the Umpires. I don't know everybody talks that Strauss denied a runner. No where in the laws of cricket it is mentioned that opposite captain is to allow a runner. I think here don't blame Stauss for that since the decisios lies with the Umpires and the opposite captain is to be informed that's all. If the umpires are denying a batsman runner then they should take the decision by themselves and stood by that. Thus, it is fit to ask the umpires of the match why or why not Smith was not allowed with a runner after having cramps (which qualifies as a injury due to his stay of 95 overs in the field), which has been done in the past.

  • Shulz Van on September 29, 2009, 3:15 GMT

    I totally agree with SAM_T........ if smith got a runner SA would've won that game...... SA Wud've won that game if smith was not injured in the first place..... Its always bad luck that kept SA away from trophies....But hats off to Smith for the best innings ever played in this CT.......n to Strauss....dont blame him...he got the chance and did what he has to do to save that game..the way it was going...smith's cramp came like a blessing to England..that was the only thing he (strauss) could do to win......or else it wud've been the semis.... They were on course for 323.....i beleive it...i ve seen them knock out the highest chase in the history against a far better attack than England..... Way to go Proteas....the WC is yours......

  • Mandar on September 29, 2009, 3:13 GMT

    @ Sorcerer, you & the other guy on this post are just showing your ignorance by saying Tendulkar always asks for a runner. What kind of statement is that ?! Tendulkar is dead against running with the help of a runner, as he has said only he knows how well he has hit the ball & how many runs the stroke will get him. Examples: Refused a runner when battling cramps during WC 2003 game against Pakistan, Retired Hurt batting 163 not out against NZ in NZ in an ODI. I can think of so many batsmen who would have wanted to hit a double ton with a runner; case in point: Saeed Anwar, who batted most of his innings with a runner during his 194 against India (still the highest individual score in ODIs) It was for the FIRST time during the Compaq Cup final in SL that Tendulkar asked for a runner. Get you facts right before making statements about the great man !

  • Anil M on September 29, 2009, 2:39 GMT

    Yeah!. Andrew Straus is right. It's a part of fitness and if you get cramps it simply shows you are not fit. Fitness is part of the game and your reflexes and co-ordination.You don't deserve a runner in such instances.- ANIL

  • Bunty on September 29, 2009, 1:57 GMT

    Under cricketing rules Strauss cannot be faulted in denying Smith a runner. But what a blow to sporting spirit of cricket! ODIs highest score of 194 was made by Anwar who when playing in Chennai asked for runner at 24 score on a shirt front wicket in India. The Indian players and its followers never for once questioned the wisdom of the then captain in allowing a frail Anwar( who had cramped up so early because of lack of stamina) a runner. I have never seen hard as nails Australians - no matter how much they swear on field - refuse a runner for opposing players. I hope Strauss realizes to be tough as a competitior means to be temperamentally tough day in and day out and not by being petty. That is a huge difference. Just two wins is fluke but having and showing class has its own permanence.Learn!

  • No featured comments at the moment.