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.
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.
In the fourth and final part of this statistical analysis on Test captains, we take a look at the youngest and oldest captains and also who are the best all-rounders in Test cricket while leading a side.
Youngest Test captains
Oldest Test captains – first Test as captain
Oldest Test captains – last day as captain
Youngest to score a Test century as captain
Note: Graeme Smith had four Test centuries as captain before the age of 23.
Youngest to score a Test fifty as captain
Youngest to score a Test double century as captain
Youngest to score a Test triple century as captain
Oldest to score a Test century as captain
Note: Misbah-ul-Haq had five Test centuries as captain after the age of 40, while Armstrong had three and Simpson two centuries!
Oldest to score a Test fifty as captain
Oldest to score a Test double century as captain
Oldest to score a Test triple century as captain
Oldest to score maiden Test century as captain
Youngest to claim a Test five-wicket haul as captain
Note: Kapil Dev and Shakib Al Hasan took three five-wicket hauls before the age of 25 years, while Waqar Younis and Rashid Khan did it twice!
Oldest to claim a Test five-wicket haul as captain
Note: Rangana Herath took three five-wicket hauls after the age of 37 years, while India’s Anil Kumble did it twice!
Youngest to claim a Test 10-wicket match haul as captain
Oldest to claim a Test 10-wicket match haul as captain
Best all-round performances in a Test match as captain
A century and a 10-wicket haul by a captain in a Test match
Note: Imran Khan claimed two five-wicket hauls in the above match!
A fifty and a 10-wicket haul by a captain in a Test match
Note: Rashid Khan was making his captaincy debut
A century and a five-wicket haul by a captain in a Test match
Notes: Mushtaq Mohammad hit another fifty (56) in the second innings at Port of Spain. Imran Khan claimed another five-wicket haul (5/82) in the second innings at Faisalabad.
Best career all-round performance by a Test captain (1,000 runs and 100 wickets)
Note: South Africa’s Shaun Pollock scored 998 runs and took 103 wickets in 26 matches as captain. Among the current Test captains, the West Indies’ Jason Holder has 1,518 runs and 90 wickets in 32 matches as captain.
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