Dean Jones, the former Australia batsman, speaking on the Lessons Learnt with the Greats podcast, explained how running between the wickets has improved considerably in the modern game, owing to the likes of David Warner who give tremendous importance to fitness.
Jones, who is credited with revolutionising Australian one-day batting through the Eighties and early Nineties, explained how he found it difficult to press hard for runs in the latter half of a one-day innings, when his batting partners weren’t as eager to cross ends.
“I hated Boony…David Boon and Mark Taylor for example,” Jones said, “where they batted deep, and I ran their twos and they didn’t run mine. You need to be fit in this level. It’s not hard to get off your backside, stop having the cokes, stop having a couple of beers, to get yourself fit to win a World Cup. So, they got the batting skills and all that, but it really upset me in my time, because I am trying to go hard, hard, hard now I’m in the power [mode] last ten overs, I’m buzz, buzz, buzz…”
In the modern era where skin folds and time trials act as few of the several parameters to judge a player’s fitness, Jones said that batting skills still hold higher precedence, remarking that “just because a guy is big, doesn’t mean he can’t rip a team apart.” However, he said that running between the wickets has ascended to an amazing level in the current generation, citing Warner an example of an aggressive batsman who puts just as much effort on his big-hitting, as he does for his running between wickets.
“Now it’s got to an amazing level,” Jones said, “particularly with Warner, his fitness skills are ridiculous and still has the power to hit him big. After a while in T20 matches, you are batting 15 overs and you are still swinging… you are fatigued trying to swing hard. And he’s still got it and he’s still pushing guys for two. And that’s the level we got to get to.
“You know what? I hate mediocrity. That’s not mediocrity what he’s doing. And it’s just great to watch and if he has to embarrass a few, well, so be it. Because that’s the level we expect as fans to watch, to take the skills to another level.”