The Myth About Captaincy

Posted: September 9, 2011 by The CouchExpert in Cricket, Opinion
Tags: , , , , ,

Srikrishnan Chandrasekaran

Kapil Dev, Allan Border and Clive Lloyd led their respective teams to their first world cup titles

The hottest topic that is discussed during any series in the sport of cricket is about captaincy and captains. Captains from both winning and losing team will be called up after the completion of every match to talk about the positive and negative of that day’s match. The Indian media is very famous for the creating hype about the series and also the way they convert small information into an atom bomb which sometimes results in good players being dropped. (One example is the former Indian captain Ganguly). In case the Indian team ends up losing the series, they invite former players from India and other countries to discuss their failures and especially about the captaincy.

Recently the Bangladesh captain and vice captain were sacked from their responsibilities for losing in Zimbabwe. Every country is king on their home soil irrespective of the opposition. Even though Zimbabwe had not played much cricket over the years at international level, they will have played a lot in those conditions domestically. It is really difficult for any team to play against a team which has not appeared in international arena for few years.

Even the first test match between Pakistan and Zimbabwe was very closely contested wherein Zimbabwe players missed several opportunities of catching Pakistani batsmen. Generally it is Pakistan who are renowned for missing opportunities while fielding. It was a nail biting finish to the first ODI as well. Even though Pakistan is better side than Bangladesh with the amount of experienced cricketers in their side, they still found it difficult to win a match against them convincingly so far.

In the recent years, there has been improvement in the Bangladesh cricket team. They should be given some more years of time to stabilize at the top level. At present they don’t have any players who have got good experience in International level to lead the team.

Fans, reporters, former players, editors across the cricket world often talk about the captaincy. There were astute people who were good captains between 1970 and 1990 – like Clive Lloyd, Allan Border, Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Mike Gatting.

Clive Lloyd led the West Indies to 2 consecutive World cup wins in 1975 and 1979 and to the final of 1983. The WI team during 1975 through 1983 had got real talent comprising of great fast bowling and excellent batsmen.

Kapil Dev became  the first Indian captain to win the World cup in 1983. He led a team which had a good mix of quality batsmen and bowlers.

Allan Border became first Australian captain to win the World cup in 1987. The team had real class batsmen and good quality bowling.

Starting 1990 there has been only a marginal improvement in terms of captaincy. There are still a lot of talk towards some of these captains being great captains – Mark Taylor, Arjuna Ranatunga, Wasim Akram, Nasser Hussain, Shaun Pollock, Steve Waugh, Richie Richardson, Ricky Ponting, Stephen Fleming, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, Grame Smith, Kumara Sangakkara, MS Dhoni, Andrew Strauss as they have won more no. of matches and tournaments for their respective countries.  Are they really so?

These captains lead a team which had got at least 2 out of 3 bases covered with some of the best cricketers. Qualities like very good batsmen, best all-rounders and great bowlers. There is nothing really great when you leads a team which has such brilliant talents. Even 50% of the players perform, the team ends with a win. None of these leaders really took over the team when it was at the bottom 3 or 4 in the ranking table and finished their career as captain in the top 2 position.

It seems almost mandatory rule a team should have a captain and a vice captain. To project that for every team players have been picked and given the position to lead. None of these captains really led their team to a tournament victory with less skilled players in the team.

Some of these captains holds the skill of utilizing talents existing in their team at the right time of a match / tournament and succeeded with good results. It is part of a job of a captain. There are only few eligible players who can be considered as emerging captains like Shakib Al Hasan, Misbah-ul-Haq and Bredon Taylor. Their teams are currently in the bottom 5 of the ranking tables. Let’s see their performance after 2 years as how they transformed their lead role talent to form their teams to next level.

  1. Mayank gupta says:


    It is an interesting topic which you discuss. However, I feel there definitely have been 3 great captains from the 90’s, 1 of which is definitely for me the greatest captain.

    1. Imran Khan – The man won the WC in the difficult conditions of Australia in 1992 with a young team with raw talent and experiences players who were stubborn like hell (namely Miandad). One definitely needed a Captain to blend in that raw talent and stubbornness together.

    2. Mohd. Azharuddin – With due considerations to the matchfixing blemish on his career, one has to hate the person to an extreme limit to overlook his captaincy. The guy kept India in the top half of the rankings with only Sachin Tendulkar in the ranks as talent. The others were as good as average. He never had a stable team which the other great captains always had. One day he was captaining Ashish Kapoor and the other day he had Rajesh Chauhan for spin. He was one of the astutest captain but very definitely failed to win abroad – however not without a fight many times.

    3. Hansie Cronje – My greatest Captain definitely. Similar to Mohd. Azharuddin, involved in matchfixing, only had Donald as talent in his team but he won everywhere and without a good opening pair or a spinner. That is mainly due to his astutueness. Kepler Wessels may have led the South African team back from Apartheid but this was the man who made them the real force. Only if luck would not have deserted him, he would have won the WC IN 1999 (but then sprots without luck would be boring and one sided for the champions).

    This is my point, records and WCs do not make a champion or a great captain, it is their ability to marshall their limited resources to the best ability (as you mention in the blog) that makes a great Captain. Furthermore, it may arise controverst, Dravid is the best test Batsmen that our generation will ever watch no matter how much the media sings about Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting being better or even Lara. Test Matches were for fighting it out and Dravid did that 33 times for India succesfully before failing for the next 3 times.

    However, it is a nice topic you discuss.

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