This is a sad development. The ICC have said that batsmen are no longer allowed to have someone run on their behalf when they get injured or suffer cramp or forget to bring the right shoes.
The runner serves a valuable purpose in cricket. He helps create the misunderstandings that give us the most entertainingly slapstick run-outs.
Run-outs are almost always hilarious. Watching professionals make a complete balls of the simple task of deciding whether to do something or not is funny; the ramifications afterwards are funnier still; and when there are three people involved and one of them has been hung out to dry by not one, but two of his team mates – well that’s just pure comedy gold.
Runners are never an advantage. The appearance of a runner is basically just an early warning system so that people don’t miss a memorable piece of rib-tickling theatre.
Update: We’ve written summat else about runners for Cricinfo.