Running between the wickets has been a very important feature of cricket in recent times. Drop the ball and run. Don't fear anything and run. If you are clever and quick, you cannot be stopped.
Because of this, we have also seen a new term: "intelligent runner." It is a term for a person who may not be the quickest (though not slow, by any means) but knows when the single is available.
And these days, each team has at least one player who can do this job. And the better teams usually have half their team who can be given this title.
Along with this, a new term also should be coined for fielding: "intelligent fielder"—a person who knows which are the balls to be fielded and which are the balls you have to go easy on.
But if I tell you this definition, most people will come under this category. And the thing is, most people do not really make it as intelligent fielder in all formats. In fact, most people are only intelligent fielders in t20 cricket, maybe because it is the easiest to do it in there.
The thing is, t20 cricket requires the stopping of boundaries. So singles are not stopped that much. But fifty over cricket and test cricket require these singles to be stiffened. There these ones are very much involved in forming partnerships. And this is where fielders make a mistake.
And that's why I say a single is less important these days.
The game has become something where batsmen are looking to cross those ropes for fours and sixes. And if they don't get that, then twos and threes. And if they don't get that, then ones. Due to this, singles are often ignored. I agree batsmen have to look for runs, but such an approach can make you look for more runs where only one exists.
And as I mentioned above. Fielders, as well, are basically looking to stop the ball from crossing the ropes. ODI's singles can only be let easily in the slog overs. In test cricket they should never be let easily.
Another proof of this is that many times an intelligent runner is sacrificed for a boundary hitter.
This raises a very important question in my mind: How can we say that, in the old days, batting and fielding were a lot more relaxed?
Fielders back then weren't that good and so they often let the boundaries go through. They did not bother diving and chasing the ball around. Today fielders stop the boundaries but don't really look to stop the singles.
Batsmen back then were more concerned about taking these singles. They had to stay long at the crease and bat. A four or a six once in a while would do.
Today batsmen are more concerned about getting a ball four four or a six, because they know they have to take a risk and get a quick fire fifty or a hundred. That would help them stay longer, as well. A single once in a while will do.
Bowlers then were also keen on saving singles. It helped them bowl more at one batsmen. Today things are so batsmen friendly that bowlers have to look to save big runs.
The priorities have changed, but the basic attitude and structure remains the same.
This article is not contradicting that quick singles are taken, but it is saying that for the better part of the matches, singles are not stopped wholeheartedly. And I can say this because if this were not true, so many quick singes were not possible with today's level of fielding.
A few times this does happen, though. And whenever it happens, we see the team look double dangerous. This is often the reason why minnows manage to beat the top teams. They stop the singles.
If the current ways continue, then it is not doing cricket any good. It's soon going to result in a quality drop in fielding inside the ring. It will also result in becoming tougher for bowlers as easy singles will be given away, which would make it difficult for them to bowl at one person for long. So, we see an increase in the amount of favouring the batsmen gets in this game.
Batsmen also care care about singles less and less now, but, the thing is, no one declines an easy single.
But, most important of all, this attitude will bring a general amount of lethargy that would come to the game, which is the most dangerous, as cricket quality will really drop.
The old way was better in this respect. At least people did not give the easier thing away in search of tougher things.
In the end I would like to say that, more than anything else, what disappoints me is the root cause of all this, the audience who cannot bare those small runs. All that matters are the boundaries. And since cricket has become a game that has to entertain at all times (The credit of this going to IPL), players have been forced to obey the public's request.
So how can we call todays's game modern? Think about it and tell me what you think.
This is also the first article in a series I am starting called "Cricket these Days." The official announcement will be done tomorrow. But if you are interested, tell me.