Captaining your country in a World Cup is a rare opportunity. At the 2019 World Cup in England, as many as seven captains will be leading their countries in the quadrennial tournament for the first time.
Here, Sportstar puts the spotlight on the 10 captains at the twelfth edition of the World Cup.
Jason Holder (West Indies)
When franchise cricket pulled out international stars from the West Indies, Jason Holder held the national side together. He has been the leader for five years. The lanky all-rounder took over as ODI captain in 2014 in the wake of a controversy. The players had withdrawn from the tour of India over a contract dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board, and he started the repair. Holder — six foot five inches — can generate a lot of bounce when bowling. The right-arm seamer will be effective in the English conditions. A cameo with the bat in the middle overs can prove fruitful as well.
ODIs: 95 Runs: 1574 50s: 8 Wickets: 121 Best bowling: 5/27
Eoin Morgan (England)
If England is the No. 1 ODI side today, it is due to the process that captain Morgan and coach Trevor Bayliss followed to rebuild the side after a dismal Trans-Tasman World Cup. Though an Irishman, Morgan imbibed the ethos of English cricket. He instilled fearlessness among the players. The left-handed batsman switched from Ireland to England in 2009. Within a decade, he is the most-capped ODI player (198) for England.
ODIs: 222 Runs: 6977 50s: 45 100s: 12 HS: 124 (n.o)
Kane Williamson (New Zealand)
Even in a tournament like the IPL, Williamson manages to score strictly through cricketing shots. Grounded, sleek and well-timed. The approach is similar when he leads New Zealand in international cricket. Talking of a skipper’s mettle, after David Warner’s temporary departure from cricket due to ball-tampering, Williamson took over captaincy in Sunrisers Hyderabad and the side made the finals in IPL 2018. The right-hander will be the anchor for the batting department in the UK.
ODIs: 139 Runs: 5554 50s: 37 100s: 11 HS: 145*
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Gulbadin Naib (Afghanistan)
The 28-year-old bowling all-rounder has been a consistent performer, but his appointment as skipper raised eyebrows. The national selectors replaced the seasoned Asghar Afghan with Naib. Seasoned campaigners Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan expressed their disappointments over the decision. With barely a couple of months left for the World Cup, they did not feel it was right time to part ways with a long-serving captain. When the team begins its World Cup campaign, Naib will have a lot to prove.
ODIs: 55, Runs: 830 HS: 82 (n.o) Wickets: 50
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Mashrafe Mortaza (Bangladesh)
For Bangladesh, Mashrafe Mortaza is not just a cricket captain. He is an emotion. The all-rounder, who has served the national team for 18 long years, could well be featuring in his last World Cup and he hopes to end that on a high. Over the years, Mashrafe has led by example and has made it a point to involve each and every player in the entire process. And this democratic approach has helped Bangladesh achieve success. On a personal front, his ability to swing the ball will be of huge help for the side and in crucial overs, the 35-year-old can contribute immensely with the bat.
ODIs: 209 Runs: 1752, Highest: 51 (n.o), Wickets: 265
Dimuth Karunaratne (Sri Lanka)
When the Sri Lankan selectors named Dimuth Karunaratne as the captain for the World Cup, it did come as a surprise. After all, he had not featured in ODIs since 2015. But the selectors were impressed with the way he led Sri Lanka to a Test series win against South Africa. A top-order batsman who’s also a part-time seamer, Karunaratne can prove effective in the World Cup and a lot will depend on how he handles the team under pressure. With just 17 ODI appearances, the 31-year-old surely is heading for a tough English summer.
ODIs: 18 Runs: 267 HS: 77 Wickets: 2
Sarfaraz Ahmed (Pakistan)
Sarfaraz Ahmed led from the front when Pakistan clinched the Champions Trophy in 2017. And as the team gears up for the World Cup, the focus will be on the captain. Over the last one year, Pakistan has displayed inconsistent performances, but with the World Cup around, the captain will be hoping to bring about a change in the team’s approach. While the side has enough talent, it is important that Sarfraz strikes form. Two years ago, he became the first Pakistan captain since Imran Khan to win a 50-over world title. Here is his chance to add one more feather to the cap!
ODIs: 106 Runs: 2128 HS: 105 Catches: 99 Stumpings: 23
Aaron Finch (Australia)
Many in the cricketing circuit consider Aaron Finch as the accidental captain because he took charge at a time when Australian cricket was trying to restore normalcy after the ball-tampering scandal, which saw Steven Smith and David Warner facing suspensions. Finch tried his best to put the team together and bring out results. It, however, hasn’t been a bed of roses for the 32-year-old. In the last few months, he has had a form slump, but he has taken things in his stride and has slowly bounced back. With Warner and Smith back, Australia looks quite a settled unit, but a lot will depend on how Finch — the opener — fares.
ODIs: 109 Runs: 4052 HS: 153 (n.o) Wickets: 3
Faf du Plessis (South Africa)
Every time South Africa goes into a World Cup, the ‘choke’ joke starts doing the rounds. Every captain wants to get the monkey off the back. Being a childhood friend of the legendary AB de Villiers — the skipper of the 2015 edition — Faf has borrowed the strength, strategies and all things positive to cause a turnaround. Having found form with the bat in the IPL for Chennai Super Kings, the right-hander will be the key to the Proteas’ batting line-up.
ODIs: 134 Runs: 5120 50s: 32 100s: 11 HS: 185
Virat Kohli (India)
King Kohli is already a World Cup winner (2011). He grew under M. S. Dhoni’s wings. Even now, for every key decision, Kohli consults the former captain. One can say that Team India has two captains decoding opponents. As an ODI skipper, the series wins in South Africa and Australia will provide him ample confidence as he walks into the marquee tournament. As a batsman, he is the No. 1 player in both Tests and one-dayers.
ODIs: 227 Runs: 10843 50s: 49 100s: 41 HS: 183
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