The Nurdler | James Fitt

Yes! No! Sorry... Everyone's doing the run-out shuffle
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The Independent Online

There is one mode of dismissal that causes embarrassment, fury and amusement – though not always in equal measures – at every level of the game: the suicidal run-out.

It has happened to all of us at one time or another, and to some more than others: Inzamam-ul-Haq, for example. There is nothing worse than hearing that famous death knell – "Yes! No! Sorry!" – which forces you to perform a pirouette halfway down the track with the same daintiness rutting elephants display during courtship.

But let's look at the process a little more closely. On hearing the first call, you leave the sanctuary of the crease, even though you can't be certain you'll be around to face another ball should you get down to the other end. To put it another way, if the fielder can throw straighter than Eric Bristow after his first shandy, you're history. Still, you set off in the vain hope that your partner – a good and valued friend until a millisecond ago – actually knows what he's doing. It's at this point that the caller realises the error of his ways and screams out his second order, two milliseconds after his first, in a banshee-like wail: "No!"

"What do you mean, no?" Of course, there isn't time to argue, as your first priority is to slam on the brakes. If you manage to keep your feet at this point, there is still a chance to get back. If not, you will fall in a shamefaced heap, stranded in the cricketing equivalent of no-man's-land; the wicket-keeper, meanwhile, will be gathering the ball, removing the bails and laughing in your general direction.

Still standing? Then it's time for Stage Two of the recovery process: as swift an about-turn as you can manage. If there is still a chance to beat the incoming missile, a full-length dive should see you home safely. Except, however, it never does. You simply end up covered in grass stains with a hernia and a mouthful of dust.

This is scant reward for your efforts, as I guarantee you will fall a couple of inches short of your goal, no matter how tall you are. Sod's law, I'm afraid. Worse still, you're not only out but you've also managed to make a complete spectacle of yourself in the process.

"Sorry," offers your partner, almost inaudibly. A number of retorts work well here. Can't print any, though.