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O captains, my captains

England have used six captains in 2011, the most in a year. We look at other teams that passed the leader's hat around

Travis Basevi and George Binoy

October 19, 2011

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Graeme Swann squats on the turf, England v West Indies, 2nd Twenty20, The Oval, September 25, 2011
Graeme Swann was the sixth captain England had in 2011 in all formats © Getty Images
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Which team has used the most captains in a year across formats - Tests, ODIs and Twenty20 internationals? If you were thinking Pakistan, because of the constant churn in their cricket, you'd be wrong. The record belongs to England, who have had six captains so far in 2011, and Zimbabwe, who used six in 2001.

England began 2011 in Australia, wrapping up an innings victory at the SCG to take the Ashes 3-1 under the leadership of Andrew Strauss. Paul Collingwood then took over the captaincy for two T20s in Adelaide and Melbourne, which Strauss did not play. After the one-day series in Australia and the World Cup campaign in the subcontinent, Strauss gave up the ODI leadership to focus on his Test career. With an eye on the future, England axed Collingwood as T20 captain and made the maverick move of appointing a different leader for each format: Strauss for Tests, Alastair Cook for ODIs and Stuart Broad for T20s.

Cook led England in the one-dayers against Sri Lanka and India at home, and Broad during the T20s. England also had an ODI against Ireland in the summer, for which they rested Cook and were led by Eoin Morgan, taking the number of captains for the year to five. Their sixth captain in 2011 was Graeme Swann, who stepped in because injuries ruled out Broad and Morgan from the two T20s against West Indies at the end of the English season.

Most captains for an international team in a year
Team Year Num Mat Tests ODIs T20Is List
Zimbabwe 2001 6 48 11 37 0 HH Streak 27, GW Flower 1, GJ Whittall 4, ADR Campbell 2, BA Murphy 5, SV Carlisle 9
England 2011 6 41 8 27 6 AJ Strauss 22, PD Collingwood 2, SCJ Broad 2, AN Cook 12, EJG Morgan 1, GP Swann 2
West Indies 1930 5 5 5 0 0 ELG Hoad 1, N Betancourt 1, MP Fernandes 1, RK Nunes 1, GC Grant 1
India 1959 5 9 9 0 0 MH Mankad 1, HR Adhikari 1, DK Gaekwad 4, P Roy 1, GS Ramchand 2
Pakistan 1995 5 30 11 19 0 Saleem Malik 9, Moin Khan 2, Saeed Anwar 1, Rameez Raja 10, Wasim Akram 8
England 2001 5 27 13 14 0 N Hussain 14, GP Thorpe 3, AJ Stewart 7, MA Atherton 2, ME Trescothick 1
West Indies 2007 5 33 5 23 5 BC Lara 12, CH Gayle 12, RR Sarwan 4, D Ganga 2, DJ Bravo 3
Pakistan 2009 5 40 9 20 11 Shoaib Malik 3, Younis Khan 28, Misbah-ul-Haq 1, Shahid Afridi 4, Mohammad Yousuf 4
Pakistan 2010 5 46 10 18 18 Mohammad Yousuf 6, Shahid Afridi 30, Shoaib Malik 3, Salman Butt 5, Misbah-ul-Haq 2
England 1930 4 14 14 0 0 AHH Gilligan 4, Hon.FSG Calthorpe 4, APF Chapman 5, RES Wyatt 1
England 1948 4 11 11 0 0 K Cranston 1, GOB Allen 3, NWD Yardley 5, FG Mann 2
Pakistan 1984 4 29 9 20 0 Imran Khan 8, Javed Miandad 3, Zaheer Abbas 17, Sarfraz Nawaz 1
England 1988 4 19 10 9 0 MW Gatting 13, JE Emburey 2, CS Cowdrey 1, GA Gooch 3
Pakistan 1992 4 34 6 28 0 Imran Khan 14, Javed Miandad 18, Saleem Malik 1, Rameez Raja 1
England 1999 4 29 8 21 0 AJ Stewart 21, AJ Hollioake 1, N Hussain 6, MA Butcher 1
India 1999 4 53 10 43 0 M Azharuddin 23, A Jadeja 10, SR Tendulkar 16, SC Ganguly 4
Sri Lanka 1999 4 43 9 34 0 A Ranatunga 20, HP Tillakaratne 1, PA de Silva 1, ST Jayasuriya 21
Pakistan 2000 4 53 12 41 0 Wasim Akram 10, Saeed Anwar 5, Moin Khan 35, Waqar Younis 3
England 2003 4 38 13 25 0 N Hussain 14, AJ Stewart 1, MP Vaughan 22, ME Trescothick 1
Pakistan 2003 4 41 8 33 0 Waqar Younis 7, Rashid Latif 15, Inzamam-ul-Haq 15, Mohammad Yousuf 4
Australia 2007 4 47 4 34 9 RT Ponting 37, AC Gilchrist 6, MEK Hussey 3, MJ Clarke 1
England 2007 4 53 11 34 8 A Flintoff 8, MP Vaughan 22, AJ Strauss 1, PD Collingwood 22
Canada 2008 4 13 0 6 7 ZE Surkari 1, Qaiser Ali 2, S Thuraisingam 3, S Dhaniram 7
India 2010 4 48 14 27 7 MS Dhoni 36, V Sehwag 1, SK Raina 6, G Gambhir 5
West Indies 2010 4 33 6 17 10 CH Gayle 26, D Ramdin 1, DJG Sammy 5, DJ Bravo 1

The most captains Pakistan had in a year were five. It happened three times, though - in 1995, 2009 and 2010.

Pakistan began 2009 with Shoaib Malik as captain for three home ODIs against Sri Lanka, the last of which they lost by 234 runs. Malik was sacked soon after and Younis Khan took over in all formats. Younis withdrew late from the T20 against Australia, in the UAE in May, because of a fever, but his stand-in, Misbah-ul-Haq, said the withdrawal was to give Fawad Alam a chance. It was the only match Misbah captained in the year. Younis then retired from T20s after the World Twenty20 victory in England, and Pakistan named Shahid Afridi his successor. Following the one-day series defeat against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi in October, Younis also resigned from the ODI and Test captaincy and took a break from international cricket. The PCB gave the captaincy to Mohammad Yousuf, who had recently returned to the fold from ICL exile. Pakistan ended 2009 with Yousuf, their fifth captain of the year, leading in Tests in New Zealand and Australia.

The year 2010 began with Pakistan by getting thrashed in all formats in Australia. Yousuf, after leading in the first four ODIs, did not play the fifth at the WACA, and so Afridi was named captain. During that game Afridi was caught biting the ball on camera and handed a two-T20 ban for tampering. As a result, Malik had to lead Pakistan in the T20 against Australia and the two T20s against England in Dubai in February. In the aftermath of that winless tour of Australia, the PCB banned Yousuf and Younis indefinitely and axed Malik for a year. Yousuf, angry at the way he had been treated, retired in March. He came back in August.

Pakistan named Afridi the captain for the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean and then appointed him in all formats ahead of the series in England. Afridi, however, retired from Tests minutes after Pakistan were beaten by Australia at Lord's, prompting a scramble to name a successor ahead of the second Test. Salman Butt was the chosen one and soon he was allegedly involved in the spot-fixing scandal and suspended from all cricket. Pakistan then handed the Test captaincy to Misbah while Afridi remained the limited-overs leader. That arrangement didn't last long either.

Following a publicised spat between Afridi and coach Waqar Younis in the Caribbean, the PCB sacked Afridi as limited-overs captain in May 2011. Afridi retired and said he wouldn't play as long as the existing administration was in place. Misbah was given the reins in all formats and it has remained so ever since. The Pakistan coach and PCB chairman have changed since, though, and Afridi has promptly made himself available for selection.

In 1930, West Indies had five different captains in five Tests because of the prevailing policy of the host country choosing the captain. So during the home series against England, Teddy Hoad led in Barbados, Nelson Betancourt in Trinidad in his only Test, Maurice Fernandes in Guyana and Karl Nunes in Jamaica. When West Indies toured Australia in December that year, their captain for the timeless Test in Adelaide was Jackie Grant, their fifth captain in five matches.

Travis Basevi is a cricket statistician and UK Senior Programmer for Cricinfo and other ESPN sports websites. George Binoy is an Assistant Editor at ESPNcricinfo

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George Binoy Assistant Editor After a major in Economics and nine months in a financial research firm, George realised that equity, capital and the like were not for him. He decided that he wanted to be one of those lucky few who did what they love at work. Alas, his prodigious talent was never spotted and he had to reconcile himself to the fact that he would never earn his money playing cricket for his country, state or even district. He jumped at the opportunity to work for ESPNcricinfo and is now confident of mastering the art of office cricket

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