May 20, 2009

Who are the most successful captains?

How does Vivian Richards match up to Ricky Ponting as a skipper? We look at captains with the best and worst win-loss records in Tests

So Chris Gayle doesn't want to captain West Indies forever. Surrendering the Wisden Trophy after a 2-0 thrashing will hardly have increased his love for the job either. West Indies' report card under Gayle reads: two drawn series, three lost, and one won. This week we've looked at captains who have the best and worst win-loss records in Test series. Never mind if they loved leading or not.

He had a more pronounced swagger than Gayle, and shared a penchant for bruising bowlers, but Viv Richards captained West Indies for a decade and did it with success. Richards stood in for the injured Clive Lloyd in his first two Tests as captain, at Headingley in 1980 and in Trinidad against Australia in 1984, and West Indies won both those series. He eventually took over permanently and West Indies won nine out 14 series under his watch and drew the other five.

Among current captains, MS Dhoni has yet to lead India in a series they've lost. In his first match as captain, Dhoni led India to victory and drew the home series against South Africa in 2008. Thereafter he's led India to wins against Australia, England and New Zealand.

Australia won all four series in which Adam Gilchrist captained in at least one Test. His first assignment - the Adelaide Test in 2000 - helped secure the Frank Worrell Trophy. His greatest achievement, however, was leading Australia to a series win in India in 2003-04 in the absence of an injured Ricky Ponting. Gilchrist captained the team in the first three Tests and won the four-Test rubber 2-0 before Ponting returned.

Ponting, however, has the highest percentage of series wins as captain, among those who have led in even one Test in a minimum of five series. The recent 2-1 series win in South Africa was Ponting's 17th win in 20 series as captain. The three defeats he's suffered were in the 2005 Ashes, the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in 2008, and the home series against South Africa in 2008-09.

Highest percentage of series won as captain (qualification: five series played)
Player Span Mat Won Draw Lost Series Won Draw Lost % won
RT Ponting (Aus) 2004-2009 56 38 9 9 20 17 0 3 85.00
DR Jardine (Eng) 1931-1934 15 9 5 1 6 5 1 0 83.33
SM Pollock (SA) 2000-2003 26 14 7 5 10 8 1 1 80.00
J Darling (Aus) 1899-1905 21 7 10 4 5 4 0 1 80.00
WM Woodfull (Aus) 1930-1934 25 14 4 7 5 4 0 1 80.00
DG Bradman (Aus) 1936-1948 24 15 6 3 5 4 1 0 80.00
Saleem Malik (Pak) 1994-1995 12 7 2 3 5 4 0 1 80.00
MA Taylor (Aus) 1994-1999 50 26 11 13 14 11 0 3 78.57
CH Lloyd (WI) 1974-1985 74 36 26 12 18 14 2 2 77.77
JM Brearley (Eng) 1977-1981 31 18 9 4 9 7 1 1 77.77
Javed Miandad (Pak) 1980-1993 34 14 14 6 11 8 0 3 72.72
SR Waugh (Aus) 1999-2004 57 41 7 9 18 13 3 2 72.22
R Benaud (Aus) 1958-1963 28 12 11 4 7 5 2 0 71.42
PBH May (Eng) 1955-1961 41 20 11 10 10 7 1 2 70.00
WJ Cronje (SA) 1994-2000 53 27 15 11 19 13 2 4 68.42
R Illingworth (Eng) 1969-1973 31 12 14 5 9 6 1 2 66.66
WG Grace (Eng) 1888-1899 13 8 2 3 6 4 0 2 66.66
JDC Goddard (WI) 1948-1957 22 8 7 7 6 4 0 2 66.66
L Hutton (Eng) 1952-1955 23 11 8 4 6 4 2 0 66.66
IVA Richards (WI) 1980-1991 50 27 15 8 14 9 5 0 64.28
MP Vaughan (Eng) 2003-2008 51 26 14 11 16 10 1 5 62.50
IM Chappell (Aus) 1971-1975 30 15 10 5 8 5 2 1 62.50
CA Walsh (WI) 1994-1997 22 6 9 7 8 5 1 2 62.50
GP Howarth (NZ) 1980-1985 30 11 12 7 10 6 1 3 60.00
Wasim Akram (Pak) 1993-1999 25 12 5 8 10 6 1 3 60.00
JWHT Douglas (Eng) 1911-1924 18 8 2 8 5 3 0 2 60.00
APF Chapman (Eng) 1926-1931 17 9 6 2 5 3 0 2 60.00
AL Hassett (Aus) 1949-1953 24 14 6 4 5 3 1 1 60.00
JV Coney (NZ) 1984-1987 15 5 6 4 5 3 1 1 60.00

Geoffrey Boycott captained England in four Tests across two series, both of which were drawn. He stood in for Mike Brearley, who had broken his arm, in Karachi in 1978 during a three-Test series that ended 0-0. Boycott led England in the three-Test tour of New Zealand immediately after, a series which was drawn 1-1.

The table of captains who've never led their teams to a series win is dominated by New Zealanders - there are four in the top five. John Reid heads the list, having led his country in 10 series between 1956 and 1965 of which New Zealand drew three and lost the other seven. Ken Rutherford is a close second, with nine series as captain without a win. He nearly had a 100% defeat record, but the one-off Hamilton Test against India in 1994 was drawn, leaving Rutherford with eight series defeats out of nine as captain. Two Bangladesh captains, Khaled Mashud and Mohammad Ashraful, have lost all their six series while leading the side.

Highest percentage of series lost as captain (qualification: five series played)
Player Span Mat Won Draw Lost Series Won Draw Lost % lost
Khaled Mashud (Ban) 2001-2004 12 0 0 12 6 0 0 6 100.00
Mohammad Ashraful (Ban) 2007-2009 13 0 1 12 6 0 0 6 100.00
AC MacLaren (Eng) 1897-1909 22 4 7 11 5 0 0 5 100.00
T Taibu (Zim) 2004-2005 10 0 1 9 5 0 0 5 100.00
KR Rutherford (NZ) 1993-1995 18 2 5 11 9 0 1 8 88.88
Habibul Bashar (Ban) 2004-2007 18 1 4 13 9 1 0 8 88.88
S Chanderpaul (WI) 2005-2006 14 1 3 10 5 0 1 4 80.00
A Flower (Zim) 1993-2000 20 1 9 10 9 0 2 7 77.77
KJ Hughes (Aus) 1979-1984 28 4 11 13 7 1 1 5 71.42
CL Hooper (WI) 2001-2002 22 4 7 11 7 2 0 5 71.42
JR Reid (NZ) 1956-1965 34 3 13 18 10 0 3 7 70.00
ADR Campbell (Zim) 1996-2002 21 2 7 12 12 2 2 8 66.66
RES Wyatt (Eng) 1930-1935 16 3 8 5 6 1 1 4 66.66
BE Congdon (NZ) 1972-1975 17 1 9 7 6 0 2 4 66.66
BS Bedi (India) 1976-1978 22 6 5 11 6 1 1 4 66.66
LK Germon (NZ) 1995-1997 12 1 6 5 6 0 2 4 66.66
Moin Khan (Pak) 1998-2001 13 4 7 2 6 1 1 4 66.66
HH Streak (Zim) 2000-2004 21 4 6 11 11 2 2 7 63.63
WL Murdoch (Aus) 1880-1890 16 5 4 7 8 3 0 5 62.50
MW Gatting (Eng) 1986-1988 23 2 16 5 8 1 2 5 62.50
DL Vettori (NZ) 2007-2009 19 4 6 9 8 2 1 5 62.50
IWG Johnson (Aus) 1954-1956 17 7 5 5 5 2 0 3 60.00
DJ McGlew (SA) 1955-1962 14 4 4 6 5 0 2 3 60.00
HP Tillakaratne (SL) 1999-2004 11 1 6 4 5 1 1 3 60.00

Hanif Mohammad drew three out of his five series as Pakistan captain; his draw percentage of 60 is the highest among captains who have led in five or more series. Hanif led Pakistan in 11 Tests and drew a home series against Australia before drawing away series in Australia and New Zealand in 1964-65.

Highest percentage of series drawn as captain (qualification: five series played)
Player Span Mat Won Draw Lost Series Won Draw Lost % drawn
Hanif Mohammad (Pak) 1964-1967 11 2 7 2 5 1 3 1 60.00
KC Wessels (SA) 1992-1994 16 5 8 3 6 2 3 1 50.00
RB Simpson (Aus) 1964-1978 39 12 15 12 11 3 5 3 45.45
Imran Khan (Pak) 1982-1992 48 14 26 8 14 5 6 3 42.85
MJK Smith (Eng) 1964-1966 25 5 17 3 7 2 3 2 42.85
GT Dowling (NZ) 1968-1972 19 4 8 7 7 1 3 3 42.85
JG Wright (NZ) 1988-1990 14 3 8 3 7 2 3 2 42.85
DJ McGlew (SA) 1955-1962 14 4 4 6 5 0 2 3 40.00
Zaheer Abbas (Pak) 1983-1984 14 3 10 1 5 2 2 1 40.00
IVA Richards (WI) 1980-1991 50 27 15 8 14 9 5 0 35.71
SM Gavaskar (India) 1976-1985 47 9 30 8 12 4 4 4 33.33
DPMD Jayawardene (SL) 2006-2009 28 15 6 7 12 6 4 2 33.33
LRD Mendis (SL) 1982-1987 19 2 9 8 9 1 3 5 33.33
N Kapil Dev (India) 1983-1987 34 4 22 7 9 2 3 4 33.33
WR Hammond (Eng) 1938-1947 20 4 13 3 6 3 2 1 33.33
L Hutton (Eng) 1952-1955 23 11 8 4 6 4 2 0 33.33
AH Kardar (Pak) 1952-1958 23 6 11 6 6 2 2 2 33.33
Intikhab Alam (Pak) 1969-1975 17 1 11 5 6 1 2 3 33.33
BE Congdon (NZ) 1972-1975 17 1 9 7 6 0 2 4 33.33
MH Denness (Eng) 1974-1975 19 6 8 5 6 2 2 2 33.33
Mushtaq Mohammad (Pak) 1976-1979 19 8 7 4 6 3 2 1 33.33
LK Germon (NZ) 1995-1997 12 1 6 5 6 0 2 4 33.33
CH Gayle (WI) 2007-2009 14 3 6 5 6 1 2 3 33.33

Click here for the full tables.

If there's a particular List that you would like to see, email us with your comments and suggestions.

George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo

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