Michael Jeh January 3, 2009

The Ex men

More revealing though is the unspoken assumption (tradition) that past captains are unlikely to keep playing under a new leader
35



As great a batsman as he is, Ricky Ponting has recently had to endure some conjecture about whether the blame for Australia’s current problems can be levelled at his captaincy. I don’t think for one moment that this will amount to anything but mere trivial speculation – Ponting’s tenure as captain is not under any serious threat and he will probably remain captain until the day he retires.

It does highlight the cultural differences that exist with the issue of captaincy from country to country. Australia (and perhaps NZ too) seem to embrace an old-fashioned view of the captain and his relationship within the team dynamic. It is almost taken for granted that the job is reserved for a relatively senior player, arguably the best player in the team. More revealing though is the unspoken assumption (tradition) that past captains are unlikely to keep playing under a new leader. It’s something that Australia and NZ are generally uncomfortable about – once your position as captain has been usurped, it’s normally the end of your career too.

I can only think of a couple of recent examples when Greg Chappell played briefly under Kim Hughes’ captaincy and then Hughes himself had a few horror games against the West Indies in 1984/85 under Allan Border. Neither situation was likely to last very long, adding to my theory that it is almost not the done thing to remain in the team once you are no longer the captain.

I’m not that good on my NZ history but the same rationale seems to apply there too. Stephen Fleming had a brief period as a player after he gave up the captaincy but it just didn’t seem right. His legacy as a great leader and elder statesman seemed to choke rather than liberate his successor. Nothing obvious but it just appeared that way from the outside.

Why is it that the other cricketing countries don’t seem to have a major problem with this? Is it a good thing for the skipper to be able to be re-absorbed back into the team or do the Antipodeans have a good reason for rarely embracing former leaders? I would be curious to hear your views from around the world.

Think about it – England have never had an issue with former captains continuing to play in the same team. Most famously, Ian Botham performed his heroics in 1981 immediately after being sacked as captain. Other recent examples include Gooch, Gatting, Stewart, Atherton, Hussain and Vaughan. What is it about the England set-up that allows this to happen with relatively little angst?

Pakistan has had a long history of this. I’d be curious to hear from our Pakistani friends whether this process creates any underlying tension or whether it all happens amicably. Pakistan cricket even goes one step further and sometimes gives a former captain another tilt at the crown. This would certainly never occur in Australian cricket but it never seemed to affect the performance of players like Miandad, Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Inzy. Is it a cultural thing that allows this fluid leadership situation to flourish without any bad blood?

India and Sri Lanka are no strangers to this either. Jaysauriya and Atapattu seemed perfectly comfortable about being foot soldiers after an extended captaincy stint. The Indian team often has up to 4 former captains in the one team and it looks pretty harmonious. Is there more to it than meets the eye or can it be assumed that players like Tendulkar and Dravid, sanguine souls, are more than content to sit in the background?

At the height of the West Indian dynasty when they had incredibly strong captains like Lloyd and Richards in charge, one would never have imagined a situation when players like Lara, Hooper, Chanderpaul and Sarwan would all be playing under each other, having once been captains themselves. The South Africans are probably much more like the Australian model except for the period when Shaun Pollock played out his days under Smith’s orders.

Bangladesh and Zimbabwe too, despite not having enough history to call on, seem comfortable enough with the notion of ex-captains continuing to play in the team. The Zim team of the last ten years had a number of former captains in the same team and it all looked like happy families.

So, is it just coincidence or does the Australian system have a cultural predisposition towards this trend? Is it the former captain who feels uncomfortable about returning to the ranks of the infantry, does the new captain feel awkward in the presence of the old leader or does the team itself feel uncomfortable when a past captain is now one of the boys?

It’s a uniquely Down Under phenomenon but as the cricket calendar gets busier and player burn-out becomes an issue (including captains), I can see it happening more often in Australia but not just yet. Will Ponting ever give up the captaincy voluntarily (and keep playing) if the team keeps losing? I doubt it.

Michael Jeh is an Oxford Blue who played first-class cricket, and a Playing Member of the MCC. He lives in Brisbane

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Muhammad Rehan Ghazi on January 13, 2009, 13:27 GMT

    The captaincy has a lot to do with the culture and the cricket structure. Pakistan used to have atleast 5-6 skippers all the time not primarily to the fact that they were a struggling side but more due to their shambolic cricket structure. Successive cricket regimes always tend to support their favourites in the team. So its not a surprise in the case of Pakistan.

  • phanto on January 8, 2009, 13:49 GMT

    Now Michael, do your research! Richie Benaud played under Bob Simpson; Simpson played under Bill Lawry; Ian Chappell under his brother Greg, who played under Hughes. Mark Taylor got the job when he wasn't the best (or most senior player) and many thought Shane Warne (the best player at the time) should've been captain instead of Steve Waugh. None of Simpson, Ian Johnson, Ian Craig or Lawry could be counted as the best playr in their respective teams. Australia places absolute authority in the skipper to run the team, which is where other countries miss the boat with the ridiculous hype about coaches. The situation with Pieterson shows just how out of control this nonsense about coaches running Test teams has got. Only one man is in charge, and that man should be (as much as possible) an automatic choice in the team so that he is not diverted by pressure over his own place. It's time cricket woke up to the fact that no amount of over-paid coaches can supplant the authority of the capt.

  • Samson Koletkar on January 6, 2009, 0:58 GMT

    I think the Australians have got it right. They groom their captains and then have the captaincy transition when the current one retires. In India and Pakistan (& Sri Lanka after Ranatunga) captaincy seems more obligatory than meritocratic. Seniority begets captaincy. Cases in point - Dravid & Kumble - both struggled miserably as captains, I am not talking about results, I am talking about leadership. I loved Ganguly & I love Dhoni. They both have a flair that few others had. Tendulkar was shrewed and skilled but not inspiring, rather micro-managing. Captaincy is something that can be groomed, which is what Australia seems to do better than any other team. Someone also mentioned a very valid point. Wins & Losses are not attributed solely to the captain, which makes a big difference. I also loved Mark Taylor, not the best player in the team at the time, but the best tactician. The best/oldest player is the captain theory works for minnows, not for the top 8. Oh and dont forget Hansie!

  • Roscoe on January 5, 2009, 22:50 GMT

    There's no particular pattern anywhere, it depends on both the captain's personal form & the team's overall performance. I'd suggest that captains appointed while young, say 26 or less, are more likely to have ex periods in the national side, unless they are so successful that they hold onto the captaincy long-term. It also depends on temperament & the way someone vacates the captaincy: Tendulkar & Dravid were happy without the burden; Fleming was unnecessarily dumped by the selectors. Ponting never learned the art in a situation where wins were having to be wrestled from unpromising situations with teams that had definite weaknesses. He could just attack & pressure until oppositions cracked. With the boot on the other foot, does he know how to manufacture wins? Has he adjusted to the reality of Australia's new position in world cricket?

  • Roger on January 5, 2009, 21:37 GMT

    Pakistan under Imran Khan was a rare time when they played as a team, otherwise, Pakistan solely relies on individual brilliance to win matches. Their captains seem to be quite abusive & intimidating especially for the junior players. Pakistan, I believe have been quite unlucky in captaincy. They haven't found any good captain really since Imran Khan. According to me, only reason he was respected because he could on his day bat (on his day) & bowl better than anybody in the team. Its always man to man between the Pakistani players. Each plays their own cricket & if one of them plays exceptionally well, their team wins. Wasim, Waqar were exceptional bowlers but not captains. The interaction between them & a fielder who dropped a catch gives us quite an insight. These are my views.

  • Mike Holmans on January 5, 2009, 20:18 GMT

    Flintoff and Collingwood captained England because Vaughan was either away or not selected for the ODI team. Obviously he played under Hussain, his predecessor, but since then he has not played for England except as captain.

  • saurabh on January 5, 2009, 20:00 GMT

    wrote a complete article and no mention about the Indian team and the number of wonderful and successful Ex-Captains in the team? Azhar, Kapil, Sachin, Kumble, Dravid and Dada ( Ganguly )

    Oh what a world we live in :)

    I think that Australian approach may work with if a captain is removed from captaincy then his career is over, but with changing times this theory should change as well. Ex-Captains may have a lot to share to the team and individually as well. Use that experience.

  • Mustufa on January 5, 2009, 19:57 GMT

    In Australia, just like you cannot attribute their success to their captain , you cannot attribute all the failures to the captain either and vice versa.

    You cannot drop Ponting until he retires, that is it. You need more players who are good enough to represent at this level.

  • Umar on January 5, 2009, 18:57 GMT

    (Continued)

    As for former captains on the field at the same time, I can think of one instance where there were four regular ex-captains and one stand-in ex-captain playing under the captain at that time... during the tour to South Africa in 1998, Rashid Latif was captain, and Saeed Anwar, Aamer Sohail, Wasim Akram, Moin Khan (all full-time ex-skippers, with Moin playing as a specialist batsman) and Waqar Younis (stand-in captain, future full-time captain) were in the side. If you add Inzamam and Yousaf to the mix, you have eight players who were or would go on to captain the side...

    Two players who weren't in the above list are Salim Malik (retired in 1999 but wasn't on the tour, captain from 1993 to 1995) and Ramiz Raja (captain in 1995 and 1997, retired in 1997)... there may well be other instances with a different set of players where the number of captains equals or exceeds the above...

    But give me their unpredictable brilliance over our current predictable mediocrity any day!!

  • Umar on January 5, 2009, 18:33 GMT

    As a Pakistani, I knew Pakistan would come up for discussion the moment I saw the topic... just as well, given how we are off the map for all intents and purposes these days!

    Michael wrote about the likelihood of a "fluid leadership situation to flourish without any bad blood"... I wouldn't quite put it that way... there was plenty of bad blood, and numerous cliques within the dressing room... a few of them weren't on talking terms, and there were more than a few reported instances of the rancor getting physical... the captaincy didn't always change hands based on performance alone... there was at least one outright player revolt (against Wasim Akram in 1993, led by Waqar Younis) and Rashid Latif and Aamer Sohail, two upright and scrupulous men in a team tainted with the match fixing scandal, were also reportedly removed due to the so-called "player power"... new players coming into the side often had to throw in their lot with one clique or the other...

    (running out of characters..)

  • Muhammad Rehan Ghazi on January 13, 2009, 13:27 GMT

    The captaincy has a lot to do with the culture and the cricket structure. Pakistan used to have atleast 5-6 skippers all the time not primarily to the fact that they were a struggling side but more due to their shambolic cricket structure. Successive cricket regimes always tend to support their favourites in the team. So its not a surprise in the case of Pakistan.

  • phanto on January 8, 2009, 13:49 GMT

    Now Michael, do your research! Richie Benaud played under Bob Simpson; Simpson played under Bill Lawry; Ian Chappell under his brother Greg, who played under Hughes. Mark Taylor got the job when he wasn't the best (or most senior player) and many thought Shane Warne (the best player at the time) should've been captain instead of Steve Waugh. None of Simpson, Ian Johnson, Ian Craig or Lawry could be counted as the best playr in their respective teams. Australia places absolute authority in the skipper to run the team, which is where other countries miss the boat with the ridiculous hype about coaches. The situation with Pieterson shows just how out of control this nonsense about coaches running Test teams has got. Only one man is in charge, and that man should be (as much as possible) an automatic choice in the team so that he is not diverted by pressure over his own place. It's time cricket woke up to the fact that no amount of over-paid coaches can supplant the authority of the capt.

  • Samson Koletkar on January 6, 2009, 0:58 GMT

    I think the Australians have got it right. They groom their captains and then have the captaincy transition when the current one retires. In India and Pakistan (& Sri Lanka after Ranatunga) captaincy seems more obligatory than meritocratic. Seniority begets captaincy. Cases in point - Dravid & Kumble - both struggled miserably as captains, I am not talking about results, I am talking about leadership. I loved Ganguly & I love Dhoni. They both have a flair that few others had. Tendulkar was shrewed and skilled but not inspiring, rather micro-managing. Captaincy is something that can be groomed, which is what Australia seems to do better than any other team. Someone also mentioned a very valid point. Wins & Losses are not attributed solely to the captain, which makes a big difference. I also loved Mark Taylor, not the best player in the team at the time, but the best tactician. The best/oldest player is the captain theory works for minnows, not for the top 8. Oh and dont forget Hansie!

  • Roscoe on January 5, 2009, 22:50 GMT

    There's no particular pattern anywhere, it depends on both the captain's personal form & the team's overall performance. I'd suggest that captains appointed while young, say 26 or less, are more likely to have ex periods in the national side, unless they are so successful that they hold onto the captaincy long-term. It also depends on temperament & the way someone vacates the captaincy: Tendulkar & Dravid were happy without the burden; Fleming was unnecessarily dumped by the selectors. Ponting never learned the art in a situation where wins were having to be wrestled from unpromising situations with teams that had definite weaknesses. He could just attack & pressure until oppositions cracked. With the boot on the other foot, does he know how to manufacture wins? Has he adjusted to the reality of Australia's new position in world cricket?

  • Roger on January 5, 2009, 21:37 GMT

    Pakistan under Imran Khan was a rare time when they played as a team, otherwise, Pakistan solely relies on individual brilliance to win matches. Their captains seem to be quite abusive & intimidating especially for the junior players. Pakistan, I believe have been quite unlucky in captaincy. They haven't found any good captain really since Imran Khan. According to me, only reason he was respected because he could on his day bat (on his day) & bowl better than anybody in the team. Its always man to man between the Pakistani players. Each plays their own cricket & if one of them plays exceptionally well, their team wins. Wasim, Waqar were exceptional bowlers but not captains. The interaction between them & a fielder who dropped a catch gives us quite an insight. These are my views.

  • Mike Holmans on January 5, 2009, 20:18 GMT

    Flintoff and Collingwood captained England because Vaughan was either away or not selected for the ODI team. Obviously he played under Hussain, his predecessor, but since then he has not played for England except as captain.

  • saurabh on January 5, 2009, 20:00 GMT

    wrote a complete article and no mention about the Indian team and the number of wonderful and successful Ex-Captains in the team? Azhar, Kapil, Sachin, Kumble, Dravid and Dada ( Ganguly )

    Oh what a world we live in :)

    I think that Australian approach may work with if a captain is removed from captaincy then his career is over, but with changing times this theory should change as well. Ex-Captains may have a lot to share to the team and individually as well. Use that experience.

  • Mustufa on January 5, 2009, 19:57 GMT

    In Australia, just like you cannot attribute their success to their captain , you cannot attribute all the failures to the captain either and vice versa.

    You cannot drop Ponting until he retires, that is it. You need more players who are good enough to represent at this level.

  • Umar on January 5, 2009, 18:57 GMT

    (Continued)

    As for former captains on the field at the same time, I can think of one instance where there were four regular ex-captains and one stand-in ex-captain playing under the captain at that time... during the tour to South Africa in 1998, Rashid Latif was captain, and Saeed Anwar, Aamer Sohail, Wasim Akram, Moin Khan (all full-time ex-skippers, with Moin playing as a specialist batsman) and Waqar Younis (stand-in captain, future full-time captain) were in the side. If you add Inzamam and Yousaf to the mix, you have eight players who were or would go on to captain the side...

    Two players who weren't in the above list are Salim Malik (retired in 1999 but wasn't on the tour, captain from 1993 to 1995) and Ramiz Raja (captain in 1995 and 1997, retired in 1997)... there may well be other instances with a different set of players where the number of captains equals or exceeds the above...

    But give me their unpredictable brilliance over our current predictable mediocrity any day!!

  • Umar on January 5, 2009, 18:33 GMT

    As a Pakistani, I knew Pakistan would come up for discussion the moment I saw the topic... just as well, given how we are off the map for all intents and purposes these days!

    Michael wrote about the likelihood of a "fluid leadership situation to flourish without any bad blood"... I wouldn't quite put it that way... there was plenty of bad blood, and numerous cliques within the dressing room... a few of them weren't on talking terms, and there were more than a few reported instances of the rancor getting physical... the captaincy didn't always change hands based on performance alone... there was at least one outright player revolt (against Wasim Akram in 1993, led by Waqar Younis) and Rashid Latif and Aamer Sohail, two upright and scrupulous men in a team tainted with the match fixing scandal, were also reportedly removed due to the so-called "player power"... new players coming into the side often had to throw in their lot with one clique or the other...

    (running out of characters..)

  • Imran Ali on January 5, 2009, 13:53 GMT

    It is not entirely accurate to say that former Australian captains do not play under other captains. If my memory serves me right, Ian Chappell played under Greg Chappell as did Yallop under Hughes (who took over from Yallop during the Packer era) and Hughes under Greg Chappel. As far as New Zealand is concerned, I think that both Turner and Congdon ended their careers as ordinary players.

  • hylian lynk on January 5, 2009, 13:46 GMT

    The teams you mentioned as being the ones that tolerate former captains in the side have been unstable ones. England, Pakistan and you can put the West Indies in there too. I think when you have struggling sides you tend to chop and change more and since you most likely don't have the resources to replace people then former captains stay on for a while. You can use India as an example too with Dravid, Ganguly and Tendulkar playing under Kumble. India could not afford to lose those players period. Right now India cannot afford to lose Sachin and Dravid they will struggle badly without them so no alternative. In Australia's situation they cannot afford to lose Ponting as a batsman so I guess whether he does a good job or not they will keep him as captain until he retires since he is already in the position and I don't think Australians place great emphasis on captaincy which I think is correct. After all the great Reilly once said that a dog could set fields and pick batting orders.

  • Sumit Sahai on January 5, 2009, 11:57 GMT

    Here's a number based theory to explain the Asian policy. Consider:

    1.All captains have a shelf life, even the best stop @ 5 yrs.

    2.Most skippers are batsmen.

    3.Batsmen tend to have longer careers, playing upto 36+ yrs.

    4.Asians debut at a much younger age. The better they are the faster they rise in a idolatory culture.

    5. Asians reward brilliance with captaincy, even if leadership potential is doubtful.

    Add these facts and you can plot the career of a stereotypical genius Asian batsman: debut @ 17-18, captain by 26-27, 4-5 years in the hot seat, less if not successful. If he chooses to retire he'd be only 32 but most successful batsmen can play very well up to 36 years so he's got 4 good yrs left at the least.

    Explains why most Asian teams have ex-captains playing out their last few years under a younger guy.

    In OZ/NZ/Eng, debut ages are higher and careers often shorter (due to tough selectors?), clipping away the last few years of an ex-skip's career.

  • raj on January 5, 2009, 10:39 GMT

    Actually, someone got close with the Kumble, Dravid, Ganguly, Sehwag, Tendulkar example. I would like that person to look at the game next to the one he pointed where Kumble actually led on the field a contingent comprising of Dravid, Ganguly, Sachin (all 3 genuine former long-term captains) and Dhoni(stand-in captain in previous match) and Sehwag(stand-in captain in one match few years back). That's 5 former captains(even though 2 of them are former stand-in ones) ON the field at the same time! If you count Laxman, who probably led in a ODI if I am not wrong, that count swells! Only the bowlers in the match for India didnt have captaining experience!

    I wonder if even Pakistan has ever beaten that

  • Michael Jeh on January 5, 2009, 10:18 GMT

    Mike Holmans, thanks for pointing out the Vaughan mistake. I didn't realise that he hadn't played for England since he resigned the captaincy. Did he ever play under Flintoff or Collingwood? Still interested in hearing from our Pakistani friends to see what they think from their perspective. Was the dressing room environment reasonably civil or were there undercurrents of tension? Imran seemed to have the force of personality to bring all parties together but I suspect (without knowing for sure) that there might have been tension with guys like Wasim, Waqar, Aamir Sohail and maybe Inzy too. It didn't seem to affect their cricket though - their brilliance was breathtaking at times, even with alleged factions and fractures. I suppose if you're a genius like Wasim, it doesn't really matter. On his day, his talent outshone anything that might have been going on with dressing room politics.

  • Sadique on January 5, 2009, 8:07 GMT

    how will you rank them as captain Ponting, vettori, Smith, KP, Gayle, Dhoni, Malik, Mahela, (to spice up)--- Flemng, Waugh, Ganguly?

  • Sadique Salimn on January 5, 2009, 8:03 GMT

    RP is not a great captain. He had Mcgrath and warne,then he had te best batting line up. Look at the averages of Heyden, Gili, Ponting, Langer, Clarck, katich, Hussy, It tells u the story. However Ponting is not good when developing young players. As a captain, you need to control ego of seniors while developing temperment and ability of juniors and young players. Ponting playes with a team who were already successful with Steve Waugh and Taylor. Once those payers started retiring, some league veterans (hussy, katich, symonds) took the places. Buh when comes to young player, I dun find anyone being selected and when selected shining under ponting (we can aruge abt clark and MJ, buh MJ has experience). So now with Mcgrath, Warne, Gili, mcgill gone, Heyden closing to retirement, ponting isfinding it difficult. Now look at GS. he has only Kallis and Ntini (may be steyn) with exp. Buh He is grooming DeVi, Amla, Prince, Dumminy for successions. In bowling now they have morkels with harris.

  • David Barry on January 5, 2009, 1:03 GMT

    Kutch, just the current one, under Katich. :) Ponting deserved to lose the captaincy after the Nagpur farce, but any time someone mentions this in a debate, it gets shot down with a "Ponting wouldn't play on if he wasn't captain".

  • Hamish on January 4, 2009, 22:46 GMT

    have to say, I do wish Fleming had played on. That said, if he was indeed stifling Vettori's captaincy, then I'm glad he went. My gut feeling says he wasn't, however, and his experience as a batsman is being missed so sorely right now.

  • aaa123 on January 4, 2009, 18:04 GMT

    i think ricky ponting is not as a good captain as his captaincy record shows. he was so successful because he had such a brilliant team.but since most of the top aussie players have retired and since hayden,hussey and lee are not in good form his real captaincy skills(or lack of it) are truely displayed since he cant ride on the luck of having a great team.he seems to crumble under pressure as far as captaincy is concerned.i think Dhoni,Smith and Mahela Jayawardana are the best captains in the game at the moment. Even KP is a bit over rated(doesnt seem captaincy material).the media just makes a big hype about his captaincy. thanks.

  • Andrew McLean on January 4, 2009, 17:22 GMT

    In NZ it has not been a huge issue. For instance, John Wright played very well for three seasons under Martin Crowe after his stint as captain. Crowe too played under Ken Rutherford and Lee Germon, albeit not without the odd issue. The case of Fleming is quite different - he led the NZ team for 10 years and held iconic status in that respect. His mistake was not retiring from ODIs completely when he resigned from the one-day captaincy. That would have left Vettori to lead the ODI side without Fleming around and for Fleming to carry on as Test captain. Instead Fleming was stripped of the Test captaincy by the NZ selectors and, understandably, he was far from happy and it showed in his on-field demeanour last season. Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh and Michael Vaughan are all examples of Test-playing-only captains. Fleming should have been the same and, had he done so, he could well still be playing Test cricket now.

  • Noman on January 4, 2009, 16:03 GMT

    Entirely coincidental. Australia have been widely successful, and therefore have never had the need to change captains.

    To me the pattern is obvious. When the teams are winning, the captains aren't being shuffled around. You pointed this out yourself, when you compared the Windies of old with the Windies of today.

    And Ponting won't be sacked as skipper because he has an excellent record, and it was would be counterproductive to remove him after two tough losses.

    As for New Zealand, they've always done the best possible with the limited talent they've had available from there sparsely populated nation. For them Stephen Fleming's captaincy was part of their assets, and it would have been foolish to remove him.

    New Zealand were preforming beyond their talents because of their captain. Their selectors would have seen far worse results without Fleming. It is all about what performing beyond your abilities.

  • Mike Holmans on January 4, 2009, 15:01 GMT

    Where do you get the idea that Vaughan has played under Pietersen, Fox? It hasn't happened yet, even if KP wants it to.

    But if it doesn't, Vaughan will be the first captain (other than Chris Cowdrey, whose stint was hardly long enough to count) not to have played under his successor since Brearley - and Brearley pre-empted it by retiring anyway.

    Playing for one's successor is of course routine in county cricket, as it is in club cricket.

    NZ captains have been unlikely to play for their successors more because they tend to be in office so long that they have no career left anyway than because there's some major objection, which leaves Australia as the sore thumb, because playing for one's successor if still fit has been the norm in the majority of cricket countries.

  • Ramakrishna on January 4, 2009, 14:55 GMT

    I guss it jst hapens wid ausies. coz of their consistency ovr years, thy found no need to change captains n so he invariably stepped down when he retired. playing formr captns in the side has its own package of issues-you wd hav grps within the team whch is nevr gud for the team-dynamics. in india, with due respect to all involvd, it shd be pointedout that this was evident when azhar was leading the side with 4-formr captns, when azhar and sachin were on-and-off as captns, n even in our legacy when kapil and sunil were playng. but i thnk the concept of playing-for-the team has been more evident in this genration of players-which is so importnt for cricket- Flintoff offering complete support to KP, KP pitching in his best efforts to have Vaughan in the side; Sachin, Zak, Viru and Bhajj supporting and appreciating MS and MS backing some of his teammates; Jayawardane getting support from seniors like Jayasuriya, Murali; C'paul playing his best under Gayle; Pollock at his best undr smith

  • Anon Payn on January 4, 2009, 14:50 GMT

    It's a queer fact, but i can't remember any Indian cricketer retiring as a Captain until Kumble at Delhi. Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Azhar, Ganguly. Bishan Singh Bedi is another example. In complete contrast to Waugh, Taylor, Border. In a way i suppose this thing helps in keep the continuity in flow within the team.

  • Sitanshu Shekhar on January 4, 2009, 12:48 GMT

    The attitude should should be, select the best XI for the team (Yes, Even if that includes an ex-captain), and then chose a captain amongst them.

    Given your logic of ex-captains not playing in the side, what would happen if Australia go on to lose the series against SA in SA, the ashes this summer, and also the ODI series against Australia, but Ricky Ponting is the best batsman of the lot, raking up more runs than anybody in international cricket? Would you dispense Ponting with the duties of a captain, or get rid of him altogether. Getting rid of him seems suicidal, and keeping him as a captain would be illogical.

    Luckily, for the Australians they haven't had to face a situation like this in the last decade.

    Also, going by the Aussie formula, India would have had to get rid of Sachin Tendulkar altogether when he was 28 after he surrendered the captaincy in early 2000. Similarily, that would have meant getting rid of Ganguly, Dravid, Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev.

  • The B on January 4, 2009, 12:04 GMT

    Being an Australian, no offence to any, but I think it is cultural. At school, all sports, both sexes, I remember the best being captain. Maybe sometimes a popular kid, but most always the "best player". I also think it is a stability and sort of "tough it out" attitude. I don't know why countries don't back their captains. I think that is what England should have done, for example with "Gooch, Gatting, Stewart, Atherton, Hussain and Vaughan" or Pakistan's history. Thick or thin, stick with one guy to get you through and support him. We don't have the "cast" systems like other countries, but then we have our own thing with being "the right bloke" as in Warne. His off field activities probably robed him and I don't doubt for a moment he would have been a very successfull captain.

    Thanks all.

  • Kutch on January 4, 2009, 10:27 GMT

    DB, which ex-captains of the past 30 years did you wish played on?

  • Aaron on January 4, 2009, 10:01 GMT

    Could be a mental thing. Once a player loses the captaincy in Australia, I'd suggest that the respect also goes for one reason or another. The reasons that one might lose the captaincy such as poor form, poor captaincy, poor attitude are also reasons for a player losing respect.

  • Vatsa on January 4, 2009, 9:37 GMT

    Interesting comparison. Recently Dhoni was leading the team in a test with Kumble (current captain injured), Ganguly, Tendulkar, Dravid and Sehwag and India won. The last decade in Indian cricket has been exceptional that way in terms of team spirit. We once had Azhar leading with Kapil Dev, Vengsarkar, Ravi Shastri and Krish Srikanth. Azhar was a junior in the team and the results were disastrous (captaincy just being one point of failure). Like the article itself brings out, this is possible when there is a good system in place (like the Aussies) or a bunch of supremely talented individuals with a tad narcissim(Windies). Otherwise these merry-go-rounds will tend to happen in teams looking for stability.

  • Vijay on January 4, 2009, 9:30 GMT

    I think Australia have always played consistently good cricket(atleast for the past 2 decades) and hence there havent been too many instances of a captain being sacked.Most of them retired on their own. In case of other teams like India and Pakistan,more captains have been sacked due to their inconsistent performances as a team.

  • David Barry on January 4, 2009, 8:36 GMT

    The Australian attitude of ex-captains not playing drives me nuts. My only guess as to why it's so ingrained in the culture is that to change would be tantamount to (shock horror!) approaching the game with an English attitude.

    Ex-captains play regularly enough in state cricket.

  • Kutch on January 4, 2009, 8:16 GMT

    Mark Taylor was never close to be Australia's best player, sometimes not even close to being one of the two best openers in the country. This would suggest that, toward the end of his career at least, he was picked for his captaincy.

    I think when you mentioned the WI heydays you hit the nail on the head. A successful team with strong captains sees no need to change them. Until Australia are unsuccessful in the manner of Kim Hughes, you wont see Australian captains willing to stand down but play on.

  • Iain on January 4, 2009, 8:14 GMT

    NZ had a pretty bad period when Lee Germon - A fine first class player and captain - was bought into the NZ team as the captain. Went down like a lead balloon. Miandad was the best player in the Pakistani team, but was from the 'lower' orders of society so wasn't respected by his players. When Imran Khan took over you could see that Miandad would go over to IK and say something, a few ball later he would make a field change. Captaincy in absentia!

  • Aditya on January 4, 2009, 8:04 GMT

    No, I think in Australia they have a system where the team picks itself first on the basis of performance, and then the best player becomes captain (irrespective of his tactical nous or whatever). So now if Ponting was to fail badly and have a really poor year or two, they might think about dropping him from the team, not just relieving him of the captaincy.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Aditya on January 4, 2009, 8:04 GMT

    No, I think in Australia they have a system where the team picks itself first on the basis of performance, and then the best player becomes captain (irrespective of his tactical nous or whatever). So now if Ponting was to fail badly and have a really poor year or two, they might think about dropping him from the team, not just relieving him of the captaincy.

  • Iain on January 4, 2009, 8:14 GMT

    NZ had a pretty bad period when Lee Germon - A fine first class player and captain - was bought into the NZ team as the captain. Went down like a lead balloon. Miandad was the best player in the Pakistani team, but was from the 'lower' orders of society so wasn't respected by his players. When Imran Khan took over you could see that Miandad would go over to IK and say something, a few ball later he would make a field change. Captaincy in absentia!

  • Kutch on January 4, 2009, 8:16 GMT

    Mark Taylor was never close to be Australia's best player, sometimes not even close to being one of the two best openers in the country. This would suggest that, toward the end of his career at least, he was picked for his captaincy.

    I think when you mentioned the WI heydays you hit the nail on the head. A successful team with strong captains sees no need to change them. Until Australia are unsuccessful in the manner of Kim Hughes, you wont see Australian captains willing to stand down but play on.

  • David Barry on January 4, 2009, 8:36 GMT

    The Australian attitude of ex-captains not playing drives me nuts. My only guess as to why it's so ingrained in the culture is that to change would be tantamount to (shock horror!) approaching the game with an English attitude.

    Ex-captains play regularly enough in state cricket.

  • Vijay on January 4, 2009, 9:30 GMT

    I think Australia have always played consistently good cricket(atleast for the past 2 decades) and hence there havent been too many instances of a captain being sacked.Most of them retired on their own. In case of other teams like India and Pakistan,more captains have been sacked due to their inconsistent performances as a team.

  • Vatsa on January 4, 2009, 9:37 GMT

    Interesting comparison. Recently Dhoni was leading the team in a test with Kumble (current captain injured), Ganguly, Tendulkar, Dravid and Sehwag and India won. The last decade in Indian cricket has been exceptional that way in terms of team spirit. We once had Azhar leading with Kapil Dev, Vengsarkar, Ravi Shastri and Krish Srikanth. Azhar was a junior in the team and the results were disastrous (captaincy just being one point of failure). Like the article itself brings out, this is possible when there is a good system in place (like the Aussies) or a bunch of supremely talented individuals with a tad narcissim(Windies). Otherwise these merry-go-rounds will tend to happen in teams looking for stability.

  • Aaron on January 4, 2009, 10:01 GMT

    Could be a mental thing. Once a player loses the captaincy in Australia, I'd suggest that the respect also goes for one reason or another. The reasons that one might lose the captaincy such as poor form, poor captaincy, poor attitude are also reasons for a player losing respect.

  • Kutch on January 4, 2009, 10:27 GMT

    DB, which ex-captains of the past 30 years did you wish played on?

  • The B on January 4, 2009, 12:04 GMT

    Being an Australian, no offence to any, but I think it is cultural. At school, all sports, both sexes, I remember the best being captain. Maybe sometimes a popular kid, but most always the "best player". I also think it is a stability and sort of "tough it out" attitude. I don't know why countries don't back their captains. I think that is what England should have done, for example with "Gooch, Gatting, Stewart, Atherton, Hussain and Vaughan" or Pakistan's history. Thick or thin, stick with one guy to get you through and support him. We don't have the "cast" systems like other countries, but then we have our own thing with being "the right bloke" as in Warne. His off field activities probably robed him and I don't doubt for a moment he would have been a very successfull captain.

    Thanks all.

  • Sitanshu Shekhar on January 4, 2009, 12:48 GMT

    The attitude should should be, select the best XI for the team (Yes, Even if that includes an ex-captain), and then chose a captain amongst them.

    Given your logic of ex-captains not playing in the side, what would happen if Australia go on to lose the series against SA in SA, the ashes this summer, and also the ODI series against Australia, but Ricky Ponting is the best batsman of the lot, raking up more runs than anybody in international cricket? Would you dispense Ponting with the duties of a captain, or get rid of him altogether. Getting rid of him seems suicidal, and keeping him as a captain would be illogical.

    Luckily, for the Australians they haven't had to face a situation like this in the last decade.

    Also, going by the Aussie formula, India would have had to get rid of Sachin Tendulkar altogether when he was 28 after he surrendered the captaincy in early 2000. Similarily, that would have meant getting rid of Ganguly, Dravid, Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev.