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.

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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



Mahela Jayawardene celebrates hi 374 against South Africa in Colombo in 2006.


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


Highest Test scores by captain at each batting position

Note: Blackham was also wicketkeeper in this match.


Sir Don Bradman.


Leading run-getters in Tests as captain

+ Includes one Test for ICC World XI.

Test run landmarks as captain

+ Includes one Test for ICC World XI.

Fewest innings to aggregate landmark Test runs as captain

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

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


Most runs in a calendar year as captain


Most hundreds in a calendar year as captain


Highest Test score in very first Test match as captain

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

Highest Test match run aggregate in very first Test as captain

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

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

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...