Who Does it Best?

Who's the best runner between wickets in men's T20 today?

Our writers' picks include a 41-year-old and a 22-year-old

David Warner bends his back to complete a run, India v Australia, 3rd ODI, Indore

Warner's braking is the most stunning part of his running  •  BCCI

David Warner
Shamya Dasgupta, deputy editor
Warner is as elite an athlete as they come in cricket. An article on the Cricket Australia website after his monumental 335 not out against Pakistan in the Adelaide Test of 2019-20 said that during his six-plus-hour innings, 146 runs qualified as "high-intensity accelerations" - meaning that he essentially ran full-pelt between the wickets on those runs.
Not unlike other batters of the modern era, Warner moves into the run while playing front-foot strokes. He is fast, of course, but it's his braking - the way he slows from a high-speed dash far enough from the crease at the other end to reach across with the bat, complete the run and get back for the next one - that is truly breathtaking. The other top-drawer element in his running is the confidence: this is a batter who sees opportunities where most others might not.
To the eye of the average observer (me, in this case), Warner also looks tireless; he can keep at it after six hours of batting, or late in an IPL innings in energy-sapping mid-May Chennai heat.
Warner is in a position of some advantage here. His wife, Candice, is a former Ironwoman and a professional surf lifesaver, and she is reported to have worked hard to make him the athlete he is. He has also worked with sprint coach Roger Fabri over the years on his technique, for batting and fielding, in getting into positions from where he can achieve that little extra.
Like some of the best runners between the wickets, Warner isn't terribly pretty when at it. But there is a sense of economy of effort: it's unspectacular but effective.
"If I have to make a tackle, I have already made a mistake," footballer Paolo Maldini once said. The great Italian defender was making a simple point: read the game, don't miss the play, get into the right position; if you do, you won't need the tackle, you'll get the ball anyway. Warner, with his stolen singles, does exactly that.
MS Dhoni
Nagraj Gollapudi, news editor
A little after Chennai Super Kings won the 2018 IPL in Mumbai, Dwayne Bravo challenged his captain, Dhoni, to a race between the wickets. Each had to complete three runs, bat in hand. Dhoni won by a few hundredths of a second.
Dhoni was 37 then, but you wouldn't know it. Observe his running and you find he is similar to pro sprinters in how he is explosive off the blocks, runs in straight lines, his head is still and his strides powerful. But running fast is just one part of being quick between the wickets. Holding the bat the right way while running, turning at the right time, from the right spot, keeping an eye on who the fielder is and what angle he is going to be throwing from - a batter has to be mindful of all this when stealing runs.
In the competition with Bravo, you see Dhoni transfer the bat effortlessly from left to right hand as he turns for the second. Observe how he grips the bat at the top of the handle for the turn. Most important: check how low Dhoni is crouched compared to Bravo as he turns. That allows him a powerful, sprinter-like start for the next run.
With his judgement of runs and these basics still in place, even at 41, Dhoni remains one of the best runners between the wickets in the game.
Jos Buttler
Andrew Miller, UK editor
What do we even mean by the "best" when it comes to the prosaic art of running between the wickets? The injured Jonny Bairstow is among the best of England's hustlers, with his supermarket manager's eye for two-for-one offers, but if it's "fun" you're after, a degree of ineptitude is essential - give me the lottery of Inzamam-ul-Haq or Nasser Hussain any day, and line up the victims for our delectation.
Such comedic chaos is harder to pinpoint in the modern T20 game, where run-outs tend to be an occupational hazard of hard-pressing rather than an accident waiting to be sprung by a usual suspect. For this World Cup, however, you just get the sense that there's an incident itching to be unleashed… probably in the knockouts, and almost certainly against England, whose moral compasses have been spinning off their axes this past fortnight.
And to that end, I present Buttler as the likeliest star of the running-between-the-wickets show - a man who has twice been run-out backing up in his professional career, who last week insisted that he would recall an opponent if one of his own team-mates ran them out in that fashion, and who as recently as Sunday declined even to appeal for a case-closed example of obstructing the field, for fear of provoking a scene.
Somehow I doubt England's opponents will be quite so reticent on such topics - either when their own bowlers are watching the encroachers out of the corners of their eyes, or maybe even when they themselves are taking liberties in a crunch situation, and testing the limits of England's moral rectitude. At which point, all eyes will turn to England's captain again. To appeal or not to appeal? That could be the question.
Virat Kohli
George Binoy, India editor
"MS [Dhoni] and I have great understanding. While running between the wickets, if he says two, I just close my eyes and run because I know his judgement is so correct, I will make it."
In November 2017, Kohli used running between the wickets as an analogy to illustrate the bond he shared with his former captain. That analogy had strong roots, and the best example of the understanding it spoke of was in the 2016 T20 World Cup match that was effectively a quarter-final against Australia in Mohali.
In a chase of 161, Kohli scored an unbeaten 82 off 51 balls, but the most memorable aspect of his innings was his speed and stamina between the wickets. After relatively slow going during his partnership with Yuvraj Singh, Kohli turned it on once Dhoni joined him in the middle. Together, they ran the Aussies ragged, and Dhoni couldn't stop talking about it after the game. A few years later, Kohli picked out that match as one of his favourite T20 innings, and reminisced about how Dhoni had made him run like they were in a fitness test.
Kohli's excellence between the wickets is a result of years of hard work and sacrifice. His commitment to pushing the boundaries of his fitness through his diet, and speed, endurance and strength training has made him one of the fittest and fastest in the game. And no matter how gruelling the conditions are, he is nearly as fast at the end of a long innings as he is at the start - it's a comparison we need to see more of on television broadcasts.
Tristan Stubbs
Firdose Moonda, South Africa correspondent
This is a left-field choice because the statistics show that Stubbs doesn't actually run that much when he is batting. Of the 140 T20I runs to his name, 102 have come in boundaries, and if you think that's too small a sample, 488 of his 807 domestic T20 runs have been scored in fours and sixes - that's more than 60%. But just because Stubbs is a big hitter doesn't mean he isn't quick between the wickets. A glance at his ground fielding will remind you of how athletic he is. Remember the superman catch to dismiss Moeen Ali in Southampton a few months ago? Stubbs was in the covers and launched himself to his left to take a one-handed blinder. His years on the hockey pitch have taught him the skills of anticipation and intuitive movement that you need to be a great runner between the wickets. Wait until you see more of how he can turn ones into twos and threes.