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.

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

Best innings bowling figures by captains

+ Second innings

Best match bowling figures by captains

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

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

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

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

Leading wicket-takers in Tests as captain

Imranjpg

Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan in action.

 

First to landmark Test wickets as captain

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

 

Walshjpg

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

 

Most 10-wicket match hauls as captain

 

Most wickets in a calendar year as captain

 

Most five-wicket hauls in a calendar year as captain

+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

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

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

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...