The ICC has concluded that the game will be better off without batsmen being able to make use of runners. I, for one, heartily disagree with this assessment and call on them to reverse their decision immediately.
For me, the runner is a key part of this noble sport. It is a game played by professionals, but the arrival of a runner can always be relied upon to inject a welcome note of amateurish slapstick into proceedings. Not only that, the aftermath tends to see breathtaking tantrums and bitter disagreements between team-mates that persist for many years. What's not to love?
It seems so simple. Batsman A can run. Batsman B can't, and so employs Batsman C to do so on his behalf. Yet it always goes wrong. Always. If you disagree with that statement, I have a graph here on my desk that proves that it does. Graphs do not lie.
Somehow batsmen simply cannot comprehend the complexity of a situation where one person is doing something instead of someone else. It is just too much for their tiny, obsessive-compulsive brains to deal with. Twos become run-outs, threes become two-and-a-halves, and attempted quick singles result in all three batsmen congregating at deep fine-leg without any of their bats or helmets.
The game needs this. Professionalism is nowhere near as entertaining as incompetence, and incompetence is never so alluring as when carried out by so-called professionals. The appearance of a runner is like a deafening air-raid siren, warning everyone at home and in the stands that there is definitely going to be some high-class comedy at some point in the next five minutes (not that air-raid sirens serve that purpose, you understand).
This is why I ask the ICC to bring back the runner. Furthermore, I demand that they go even further. Many other on-field jobs could be subcontracted to a player's team-mates with potentially hilarious consequences. Why stop with running between the wickets?
It seems wrong that substitute fielders should carry out the injured fielder's entire role. Why can't they merely chip in? Just as a batsman suffering a calf strain can still bat, so a fielder with a broken thumb can still see. The substitute fielder could be blindfolded and directed by the injured party. "Left a bit, back a bit, hands out, catch" - it's got so much potential.
Similarly, a bowler with a torn hamstring may not be able to run in to bowl, but he can still turn his arm over. Why can't the 12th man propel him to the crease in a shopping trolley? Really, why not? It seems simple enough.
Batsmen with fractured digits still have one working hand in most cases. Why should they miss out on batting? I would allow that team to fashion a makeshift prosthetic limb using only items they can find in the dressing room. Watching the recipient swing the bat using one good arm and one flapping monstrosity made out of thigh pads and wicketkeeping gloves all taped together would be life-affirmingly enjoyable. Just tell me it wouldn't.