Posts Tagged ‘Captaincy’

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.

Chandrasekhar Jayarama Krishnan

Head of Cricket, CouchExpert

4 February 2011

Indian cricket has hardly been without unpleasant instances of brusque departures of captains: not least when Mohammad Azharuddin was forced to walk out after a tryst with match-fixing, a series of incidents that left the global cricketing community embittered. Zonalism, politics and self-worth are not easily untangled, precisely explaining why mistrust had often been an element within the Indian cricketing scenario.

Captains have also often been known to under utilize players in the squad who they didn’t favor. A captain even as late as Saurav Ganguly was known for his suspected treatment of Sunil Joshi, where in the Karnataka spinner was just given two overs in a game, and also sent up the order against an attack where his batting wouldn’t speak for itself. Naturally, he failed to impress and slowly faded in to the wilderness.

Yet, the current Indian captain is one who trespassed the urge to establish the primacy of Indian cricket over the Imperialists. The T20 world cup victory in South Africa has taken Indian cricket a lot further than anyone could have ever imagined with the IPL being the greatest consequence. A bunch of raw, talented youngsters, under his leadership, proved their worth to bring home the trophy. It is very easy to forget how it all started.

MS Dhoni is a captain of great deeds, but confirmed greatness yet awaits him. He has undoubtedly been one of the better captains around since Stephen Fleming, who, in Shane Warne’s words could have made it to the World XI squad in lieu of his captaincy alone. Yet, Dhoni realizes that all this isn’t enough – not when half the nation looks to bite him over his suspected incorrect moves during various periods over the recently concluded series in South Africa. As the saying goes, when the game bites, it takes a huge chunk.

But that the meager voices in corners of India calling for a change in captaincy – on the old principle that people who live in glasshouses shouldn’t throw stones – is easy to gainsay. He’s never tried to reach beyond himself. For one, his penchant for moves from out of the blue – opening with off spinner R Ashwin, throwing the ball to Suresh Raina during a crucial period of play, restricting the Aussies to within 200 in a day on a Nagpur wicket to slow the rate down – are not remotely as ransom as they may seem.

He has always followed his instincts, and more often than not, has backed them up with phenomenal results. Yet, achieving what by far is one of the prouder results from outside the subcontinent, in a land where we have never fared well, goes for a toss. Cynics can be forgiven for disclosing the idle state of their common sense during that period, for I can only see the funny side of it.

In some ways, it is fair to say that Dhoni would have aptly fitted in as a captain during the earlier decades when the team didn’t boast of too many superstars. He’s definitely one of those guys who can portray a team which is significantly greater than the sum of its parts. It takes a shrewd mind to do that, and he is one of the best in the business.

Dhoni’s strokes of genius have often come during periods where India have looked pedestrian, during the course of a test match, after weathering long stretches of ineffectiveness. From out of the blue, a plot is devised, a trap is laid and a pretty scorecard turns its tables. Restricted menace in India’s bowling attacks have often meant that they are likely to be dominated eventually, but clever moves at the apt time have helped India stay way ahead of their game.

These days, the role of a captain is often underplayed. Back then, teams did not have a bunch of analysts with their laptops, cunningly devising a strategy to attack a player’s weakness. The simple and pure art of observation is a lost one, but a rare few have retained it – the subject of the topic being one of them.

Much can be extracted from the current make-up of the Indian squad, but one thought that reassures us every now and then, even if the cynics hate to admit it, is to have the rope tethered around Dhoni. Sure, his batting form hasn’t been the best of late but I’m one of those guys who’d love to believe that he’ll bring the best out of him, and the team, in front of the home crowds during cricket’s biggest event. He did it in South Africa during the inaugural World Cup pertaining to the shortest form of the game – it isn’t hard to imagine him repeating that feat in the upcoming tournament.

Its a shame that great performances alone go noticed in big tournaments, and captaincy is barely a fact that is stressed on. It’d be interesting to see how captains rally their teams this World Cup, for after a very long time, we see no clear favorites in the tournament. If there did exist a Captain of the Tournament award, I’d definitely put my money on MSD.

The thought of looking for an alternative captain, then, is an admission of having a potent weapon on the playing side and a tactically shrewd thinker on the mental side. The question is: is there an alternative? Quite vividly, I see no one. At least, not yet.