The leading bowlers among Test captains

The captain is the appointed leader, having several additional roles and responsibilities over and above those of the 10 others in the playing XI.

Former India all-rounder Kapil Dev has the best innings bowling figures (9/83) as captain.   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

The captain of a cricket team, at times also referred to as the skipper, is the appointed leader, having several additional roles and responsibilities over and above those of the 10 others in the playing XI. In cricket, the main role of the captain is to act as a sort of intermediary between the coaching staff and the rest of the team. He becomes part player, part selector or even part coach/mentor, and must be able to successfully balance the various pressures that come with the multiple responsibilities.

As in any other sport, the captain is usually the person who is the most experienced in the squad. However, there have been several instances in Test cricket where the captain has been the least experienced member of the squad.

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The captain also needs to have good communication skills and is most likely to be a certainty in the playing XI, as he is responsible for the team selection. It is his task to go out for the toss before the start of a match and then take a call as to whether his side bats or fields first. During the match, the captain decides the team’s batting order, which bowler will open the bowling, who are his first and second bowling changes, and where each fielder will be positioned. While the captain has the final say, decisions taken on the field or in the dressing rooms are often collaborative. A captain’s knowledge of the complexities of cricket strategy and tactics, and shrewdness in the field may contribute significantly to the team’s success. Excelling as a cricket captain requires the incumbent to have a thorough understanding of how the game is played, the ability to strategise, and at the same time lead his teammates both on and off the field.

Nowadays, with the coaching and support staff as part of the squad, the captain’s decision-making responsibilities are less of a burden. This allows him to fully concentrate on his skills, which are either batting or bowling and at times both. However, despite all that, the captain of a cricket team typically shoulders more responsibility for results than team captains in other sports.

READ| The leading batsmen among Test captains

The third part of this series looks at their bowling performances.

Best innings bowling figures by captains

Bowling figuresCaptainCountryOpponentVenueDateResult
9/83+Kapil DevIndiaWest IndiesAhmedabadNovember 16, 1983Lost
8/60+Imran KhanPakistanIndiaKarachiDecember 27, 1982Won
8/63+Rangana HerathSri LankaZimbabweHarareNovember 10, 2016Won
8/106Kapil DevIndiaAustraliaAdelaideDecember 14, 1985Drawn
7/37Courtney WalshWest IndiesNew ZealandWellingtonFebruary 12, 1995Won

+ Second innings

Best match bowling figures by captains

Bowling figuresCaptainCountryOpponentVenueDateResult
13/55Courtney WalshWest IndiesNew ZealandWellingtonFebruary 13, 1995Won
13/135Waqar YounisPakistanZimbabweKarachi (Defence)December 6, 1993Won
13/152Rangana HerathSri LankaZimbabweHarareNovember 10, 2016Won
12/100Fazal MahmoodPakistanWest IndiesDaccaMarch 8, 1959Won
11/79Imran KhanPakistanIndiaKarachiDecember 27, 1982Won

Note: India’s Kapil Dev (10/135 vs West Indies at Ahmedabad on November 16, 1983) and Bishan Singh Bedi (10/194 vs Australia at Perth on December 21, 1977) are the only captains to lose a Test match after taking a 10-wicket match haul!

Best innings bowling figures by captains – how the record changed hands

Bowling figuresCaptainCountryOpponentVenueDateResult
4/70James LillywhiteEnglandAustraliaMelbourneApril 3, 1877Won
5/19Aubrey SmithEnglandSouth AfricaPort ElizabethMarch 12, 1889Won
6/155George GiffenAustraliaEnglandMelbourneJanuary 1, 1895Lost
7/100Monty NobleAustraliaEnglandSydneyFebruary 27, 1904Lost
7/80Gubby AllenEnglandIndiaThe OvalAugust 18, 1936Won
7/44Ian JohnsonAustraliaWest IndiesGeorgetownApril 28, 1955Won
8/60Imran KhanPakistanIndiaKarachiDecember 27, 1982Won
9/83Kapil DevIndiaWest IndiesAhmedabadNovember 16, 1983Lost

Note: For Smith, it was in his only Test match of his career.

Best match bowling figures by captains – how the record changed hands

Bowling figuresCaptainCountryOpponentVenueDateResult
7/61Aubrey SmithEnglandSouth AfricaPort ElizabethMarch 13, 1889Won
8/40George GiffenAustraliaEnglandSydneyFebruary 4, 1895Won
11/90Arthur GilliganEnglandSouth AfricaBirminghamJune 17, 1924Won
12/100Fazal MahmoodPakistanWest IndiesDaccaMarch 8, 1959Won
13/135Waqar YounisPakistanZimbabweKarachi (Defence)December 6, 1993Won
13/55Courtney WalshWest IndiesNew ZealandWellingtonFebruary 13, 1995Won

Note: For Smith, it was in his only Test match of his career.

Leading wicket-takers in Tests as captain

WicketsCaptainCountryTests as captainAverageStrike ratePeriod
187Imran KhanPakistan4820.2749.26July 29, 1982-January 7, 1992
138Richie BenaudAustralia2825.7977.68December 5, 1958-December 11, 1963
117Gary SobersWest Indies3934.0092.82March 3, 1965-Aprl 26, 1972
116Daniel VettoriNew Zealand3233.3979.96November 8, 2007-January 19, 2011
111Kapil DevIndia3426.3560.52February 23, 1983-March 17, 1987
107Wasim AkramPakistan2523.3650.88April 16, 1993-November 28, 1999
106Bishan Singh BediIndia2224.8268.67February 5, 1976-November 19, 1978
103Shaun PollockSouth Africa2621.3756.63July 20, 2000-January 5, 2003

Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan in action.   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

 

First to landmark Test wickets as captain

WicketsCaptainCountryAchieved onOpponentVenue
50Richie BenaudAustraliaDecember 12, 1959IndiaDelhi
100Richie BenaudAustraliaFebruary 10, 1961West IndiesMelbourne
150Imran KhanPakistanApril 14, 1988WellingtonPort of Spain

Note: Imran Khan became the leading wicket-taker as a Test captain when he crossed Richie Benaud’s tally of 138 wickets at Georgetown on April 2, 1988.

Most five-wicket hauls as captain

Five-wicket haulsCaptainCountryTests as captainWicketsAveragePeriod
12Imran KhanPakistan4818720.27July 29, 1982-January 7, 1992
9Richie BenaudAustralia2813825.79December 5, 1958-December 11, 1963
8Bishan Singh BediIndia2210624.82February 5, 1976-November 19, 1978
7Courtney WalshWest Indies228525.72April 16, 1994-December 9, 1997
6Daniel VettoriNew Zealand3211633.39November 8, 2007-January 19, 2011
6Jason HolderWest Indies329024.78October 14, 2015-November 29, 2019

 

Former West Indies speedster Courtney Walsh has seven five-wicket hauls in 22 Tests as captain.   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

 

Most 10-wicket match hauls as captain

10-wicket haulsCaptainCountryTests as captainWicketsAveragePeriod
4Imran KhanPakistan4818720.27July 29, 1982-January 7, 1992
2Intikhab AlamPakistan175431.74October 24, 1969-March 6, 1975

 

Most wickets in a calendar year as captain

WicketsCaptainCountryYearTestsAverageStrike rateFive-wicket hauls
58Kapil DevIndia19831420.4546.413
55Shaun PollockSouth Africa20011321.3856.844
54Richie BenaudAustralia1959818.6558.964
54Daniel VettoriNew Zealand20081426.1365.615
48Bishan Singh BediIndia19761020.0067.883
48Imran KhanPakistan1982814.7542.603

 

Most five-wicket hauls in a calendar year as captain

Five-wicket haulsCaptainCountryYearTestsWicketsAverageStrike rate
5Bishan Singh BediIndia19777+3822.9761.67
5Daniel VettoriNew Zealand2008145426.1365.61
4Gubby AllenEngland193653216.1630.47
4Fazal MahmoodPakistan195953217.0644.97
4Richie BenaudAustralia195985418.6558.96
4Shaun PollockSouth Africa2001135521.3856.84
4Jason HolderWest Indies201863312.3927.30

+In the 1977-78 Melbourne Test, Bedi's first innings came in 1977 while the second came in 1978. The bowling figures above have been adjusted accordingly.

Note: No captain has been able to claim more than one 10-wicket haul in a single calendar year!

Best innings bowling figures in very first Test match as captain

Bowling figuresCaptainCountryOpponentVenueDateResult
7/52Imran KhanPakistanEnglandBirminghamJuly 29, 1982Lost
7/91Waqar YounisPakistanZimbabweKarachi (Defence)December 5, 1993Won
6/7Arthur GilliganEnglandSouth AfricaBirminghamJune 16, 1924Won
6/132Naimur RahmanBangladeshIndiaDhakaNovember 13, 2000Lost
6/155George GiffenAustraliaEnglandMelbourneJanuary 1, 1895Lost

Notes:

- Naimur Rahman was on Test debut and it was also Bangladesh’s inaugural Test match!

- The only other captain on Test debut to take a five-wicket haul other than Naimur was England’s Aubrey Smith in his only Test match vs South Africa at Port Elizabeth on March 12, 1889.

- George Giffen's six-wicket haul came in the second innings - he did not bowl in the first!

Best match bowling figures in very first Test match as captain

Bowling figuresCaptainCountryOpponentVenueDateResult
13/135Waqar YounisPakistanZimbabweKarachi (Defence)December 6, 1993Won
11/90Arthur GilliganEnglandSouth AfricaBirminghamJune 17, 1924Won
11/104Rashid KhanAfghanistanBangladeshChittagong (Divisional)September 9, 2019Won
11/150Buster NupenSouth AfricaEnglandJohannesburg (Old)December 27, 1930Won
10/78Gubby AllenEnglandIndiaLord’sJune 30, 1936Won

Note: The best match bowling figures by a captain on Test debut is 7/61 by England’s Aubrey Smith in his only match vs South Africa at Port Elizabeth on March 13, 1889.

Bowling hat-tricks by captain

Bowling figuresCaptainCountryOpponentVenueDateResult
4/30Wasim AkramPakistanSri LankaLahoreMarch 6, 1999Drawn
3/33Wasim AkramPakistanSri LankaDhakaMarch 14, 1999Won

Note: These two hat-tricks came in successive Tests, just a week apart in the Asian Test Championship, of which the Dhaka Test was the final match.

To be continued...

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