The leading batsmen among Test captains

In cricket, the captain becomes part player, part selector or even part coach/mentor. He must be able to successfully balance the various pressures.

West Indies legend Brian Lara after scoring the unbeaten 400 against England in 2004.   -  FILE PHOTO/ GETTY IMAGES

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.

READ| Who is the best Test cricket captain of them all?

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.

The second part of our series on Test captains looks at their batting performances.

Highest Test scores by captains

ScoreCaptainCountryOpponentVenueDateResult
400*Brian LaraWest IndiesEnglandSt John’sApril 12, 2004Drawn
374Mahela JayawardeneSri LankaSouth AfricaColombo (SSC)July 29, 2006Won
334*Mark TaylorAustraliaPakistanPeshawarOctober 16, 1998Drawn
333Graham GoochEnglandIndiaLord’sJuly 27, 1990Won
329*Michael ClarkeAustraliaIndiaSydneyJanuary 5, 2012Won

 

Mahela Jayawardene celebrates hi 374 against South Africa in Colombo in 2006.   -  FILE PHOTO/ GETTY IMAGES

 

Progressive highest Test scores by captains – how the record changed hands

ScoreCaptainCountryOpponentVenueDateResult
52Lord HarrisEnglandAustraliaThe OvalSeptember 6, 1880Won
153*Billy MurdochAustraliaEnglandThe OvalSeptember 8, 1880Lost
211Billy MurdochAustraliaEnglandThe OvalAugust 12, 1884Drawn
270Don BradmanAustraliaEnglandMelbourneJanuary 6, 1937Won
285*Peter MayEnglandWest IndiesBirminghamJune 4, 1957Drawn
311Bob SimpsonAustraliaEnglandManchesterJuly 25, 1964Drawn
333Graham GoochEnglandIndiaLord’sJuly 27, 1990Won
334*Mark TaylorAustraliaPakistanPeshawarOctober 16, 1998Drawn
400*Brian LaraWest IndiesEnglandSt John’sApril 12, 2004Drawn

 

Highest Test scores by captain at each batting position

PositionScoreCaptainCountryOpponentVenueDateResult
1334*Mark TaylorAustraliaPakistanPeshawarOctober 16, 1998Drawn
2311Bob SimpsonAustraliaEnglandManchesterJuly 25, 1964Drawn
3400*Brian LaraWest IndiesEnglandSt John’sApril 12, 2004Drawn
4374Mahela JayawardeneSri LankaSouth AfricaColombo (SSC)July 29, 2006Won
5329*Michael ClarkeAustraliaIndiaSydneyJanuary 5, 2012Won
6234Don BradmanAustraliaEnglandSydneyDecember 17, 1946Won
7270Don BradmanAustraliaEnglandMelbourneJanuary 6, 1937Won
8257*Wasim AkramPakistanZimbabweSheikhupuraOctober 20, 1996Drawn
9111Shaun PollockSouth AfricaSri LankaCenturionJanuary 20, 2001Won
1074Jack BlackhamAustraliaEnglandSydneyDecember 15, 1894Lost
1128*Bob WillisEnglandPakistanBirminghamJuly 31, 1982Won

Note: Blackham was also wicketkeeper in this match.

Sir Don Bradman.   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

 

Leading run-getters in Tests as captain

RunsCaptainCountryTests as captainInningsAveragePeriod
8,659Graeme SmithSouth Africa+10919347.84April 24, 2003-March 5, 2014
6,623Allan BorderAustralia9315450.95December 7, 1984-March 29, 1994
6,542Ricky PontingAustralia7714051.51March 8, 2004-December 29, 2010
5,233Clive LloydWest Indies7411151.30November 22, 1974-January 2-1985
5,156Stephen FlemingNew Zealand8013540.60February 14, 1997-December 18, 2006
5,142Virat KohliIndia559061.21December 9, 2014-March 2, 2020

+ Includes one Test for ICC World XI.

Test run landmarks as captain

RunsCaptainCaptainAchieved on
1,000Archie MacLarenEnglandJuly 5, 1902
2,000Don BradmanAustraliaNovember 28, 1947
3,000Don BradmanAustraliaJuly 27, 1948
4,000Greg ChappellAustraliaDecember 10, 1982
5,000Clive LloydWest IndiesDecember 7, 1984
6,000Allan BorderAustraliaJuly 23, 1993
7,000Graeme SmithSouth Africa+November 17, 2011
8,000Graeme SmithSouth Africa+January 11, 2-13

+ Includes one Test for ICC World XI.

Fewest innings to aggregate landmark Test runs as captain

RunsInningsTestsCaptainCountryAchieved on
1,000116Don BradmanAustraliaJune 14, 1938
2,0002415Don BradmanAustraliaNovember 28, 1947
3,0003723Don BradmanAustraliaJuly 27, 1948
4,0006539Virat KohliIndiaSeptember 2, 2018
5,0008653Virat KohliIndiaNovember 22, 2019
6,00012167Ricky PontingAustraliaJanuary 17, 2010
7,00015085Graeme SmithSouth Africa+November 17, 2011
8,00017599Graeme SmithSouth Africa+January 11, 2-13

Note: England’s Graham Gooch also took 15 Tests to reach his 2,000th run as captain.

+ Includes one Test for ICC World XI.

Most Test centuries as captain

CenturiesCaptainCaptainTests as captainInningsAveragePeriod
25Graeme SmithSouth Africa+10919347.84April 24, 2003-March 5, 2014
20Virat KohliIndia559061.21December 9, 2014-March 2, 2020
19Ricky PontingAustralia7714051.51March 8, 2004-December 29, 2010
15Allan BorderAustralia9315450.95December 7, 1984-March 29, 1994
15Steve WaughAustralia578352.31March 5, 1999-January 6, 2004
15Steve SmithAustralia346070.37December 17, 2014-March 26, 2018

Most 200-plus scores as Test captain: 7 by Virat Kohli, 5 by Brian Lara, and 4 each by Don Bradman, Graeme Smith and Michael Clarke.

Most Test centuries by captains – how the record changed hands

Century No.1CaptainScoreCountryOpponentVenueDateResult
1Billy Murdoch153*AustraliaEnglandThe OvalSeptember 8, 1880Lost
2Billy Murdoch211AustraliaEnglandThe OvalAugust 12, 1884Drawn
3Warwick Armstrong123*AustraliaEnglandMelbourneFebruary 14, 1921Won
4Herbie Taylor102South AfricaEnglandDurbanFebruary 22, 1923Lost
5-14Don Bradman102*AustraliaEnglandLord’sJune 28, 1938Drawn
15Allan Border105AustraliaNew ZealandBrisbaneDecember 5, 1993Won
16-19Ricky Ponting123AustraliaIndiaBangaloreOctober 9, 2008Drawn
20-25Graeme Smith100South AfricaPakistanDubaiNovember 12, 2010Drawn

 

Most runs in a calendar year as captain

RunsCaptainCountryYearTestsInningsAverageHundredsFifties
1,656Graeme SmithSouth Africa2008152572.0066
1,595Michael ClarkeAustralia20121118106.3345
1,544Ricky PontingAustralia2005152867.1366
1,381Bob SimpsonAustralia1964142660.0437
1,364Alastair CookEngland2015142654.5638

 

Most hundreds in a calendar year as captain

HundredsCaptainCountryYearTestsInningsRunsAverageFifties
7Ricky PontingAustralia200610181,33388.874
6Graeme SmithSouth Africa200815251,65672.006
6Steve SmithAustralia201711201,30576.763
6Ricky PontingAustralia200515281,54467.136

 

Highest Test score in very first Test match as captain

ScoreCaptainCountryOpponentVenueDateResult
239Graham DowlingNew ZealandIndiaChristchurchFebruary 23, 1968Won
203*Shivnarine ChanderpaulWest IndiesSouth AfricaGeorgetownApril 1, 2005Drawn
191Clem HillAustraliaSouth AfricaSydneyDecember 9, 2010Won
190Joe RootEnglandSouth AfricaLord’sJuly 7, 2017Won
173Alastair CookEnglandBangladeshChittagong (DS)March 13, 2010Won
163Clive LloydWest IndiesIndiaBangaloreNovember 26, 1974Won

Note: Lloyd’s knock came in the second innings.

Highest Test match run aggregate in very first Test as captain

AggregateScoresCaptainCountryOpponentVenueMonth, yearResult
256115 and 141Virat KohliIndiaAustraliaAdelaideDecember 2014Lost
244239 and 5Graham DowlingNew ZealandIndiaChristchurchFebruary 1968Won
232123 and 109*Greg ChappellAustraliaWest IndiesBrisbaneDecember 1975Won
203203*Shivnarine ChanderpaulWest IndiesSouth AfricaGeorgetownApril 2005Drawn
212173 and 39Alastair CookEnglandBangladeshChittagong (DS)March 2010Won

Note: Chappell and Kohli are the only players to make centuries in each innings in their debut Test as captain.

Captains carrying the bat through an innings as an opener

ScoreCaptainTotalMatch inningsCountryOpponentVenueDateResult
73*Bill Woodfull^193a4AustraliaEnglandAdelaideJanuary 19, 1933Lost
127*Jackie McGlew2921South AfricaNew ZealandDurbanDecember 8, 1961Won
49*Bill Lawry1073AustraliaIndiaDelhiNovember 30, 1969Lost
60*Bill Lawry116a4AustraliaEnglandSydneyJanuary 14, 1971Lost
127*Sunil Gavaskar2863IndiaPakistanFaisalabadJanuary 8, 1983Lost
154*Graham Gooch2523EnglandWest IndiesLeedsJune 9, 1991Won
94*Michael Artherton^2282EnglandNew ZealandChristchurch (LP)February 16, 1997Won
169*Mark Taylor3502AustraliaSouth AfricaAdelaideFebruary 2, 1998Drawn
165*Chris Gayle3173West IndiesAustraliaAdelaideDecember 8, 2009Drawn

Note: Jackie McGlew is the only captain to do it on the opening day of a Test match.

a one batsman did not bat/was injured

^ batted at No. 2

Highest Test scores by captains while following on

ScoreCaptainCountryOpponentVenueDateResult
237Salim MalikPakistanAustraliaRawalpindiOctober 9, 1994Drawn
176Alastair CookEnglandIndiaAhmedabadNovember 19, 2012Lost
164Alec StewartEnglandSouth AfricaManchesterJuly 6, 1998Drawn
153*Billy MurdochAustraliaEnglandThe OvalSeptember 8, 1880Lost
150*Mike GattingEnglandPakistanThe OvalAugust 11, 1987Drawn

Note: In all, 18 centuries have been scored by captains while following on. No one has been able to do it more than once.
 

To be continued...