January 25, 2012

The ultimate stopgap captains

Players whose captaincy tenures were broken up into the most pieces, like that of Javed Miandad, who was appointed Pakistan's captain on six separate occasions

The ongoing Adelaide Test is Virender Sehwag's fourth as captain of India. It's probably a one-off assignment, because the regular leader, MS Dhoni, is serving a one-match ban for a repeat over-rate offence. Sehwag's three previous appearances as captain were also stand-in roles for solitary Tests - in 2005, 2009 and 2010. The first call to duty was because Rahul Dravid had gastroenteritis, the next two because Dhoni had back problems. India won two of those Tests and drew the other. After the first day in Adelaide, given the form India's batsmen are in, Sehwag will do well to keep his unbeaten record intact.

Four such one-off endeavours for Sehwag is the Test record. England's Alec Stewart is the only other player who has been called on to lead a team in four one-off matches, but he had longer stretches as captain as well. This week's column is about stopgap captains, and those whose leadership tenures had several interruptions.

Javed Miandad led Pakistan in 34 Tests, over six separate captaincy stints, the most for any cricketer. He was appointed captain for the first time in February 1980, when Australia toured Pakistan for three Tests. Asif Iqbal had retired following a series defeat in India and Miandad was his successor. Pakistan went on to win the series 1-0, their first series victory against Australia apart from the victory in the one-off Test in October 1956. It was the start of a 13-Test stint as captain for Miandad, which was his longest. Pakistan won four, lost three and drew six of those games. By the time Pakistan toured England in the summer of 1982, Imran Khan was the captain.

Miandad's second stint comprised the tour of New Zealand and the home series against Sri Lanka in 1985. Zaheer Abbas had been the captain during the home series against New Zealand but arrived in New Zealand only in time for the second and third Tests. In the absence of Imran, who was playing for New South Wales in 1984-85, Miandad was made captain again. Pakistan lost the series 0-2. Miandad resigned the captaincy after the 2-0 victory at home against Sri Lanka, a series during which Zaheer announced his retirement and Imran took over the leadership once again.

Imran retired after the 1987 World Cup, soon after which England toured Pakistan, who were led by Miandad again, in November. The hosts won it 1-0. That series is now remembered for the infamous row between the England captain Mike Gatting and Pakistani umpire Shakoor Rana.

Pakistan had returned from a heroic performance in the West Indies in 1988, where they drew the Tests 1-1 under Imran's captaincy. He had come out of retirement. Imran, however, opted out of the home series against Australia, in protest over the timing of the tour. According to the Wisden Almanack, Imran felt it was too hot to play in Pakistan in September. So Miandad was back again as captain, and Pakistan won 1-0.

Most spells as captain (with a game as non-captain in between) - Tests
Player Span Mat Capt Num List
Javed Miandad (Pak) 1976-1993 124 34 6 1979/80 v Aus to 1981/82 v SL (13), 1984/85 v NZ to 1985/86 v SL (6), 1987/88 v Eng to 1987/88 v Eng (3), 1988/89 v Aus to 1988/89 v Aus (3), 1990/91 v NZ to 1990/91 v NZ (3), 1992 v Eng to 1992/93 v NZ (6)
MC Cowdrey (Eng) 1954-1975 114 27 5 1959 v India to 1959 v India (2), 1959/60 v WI to 1961 v Aus (9), 1962 v Pak (1), 1966 v WI to 1966 v WI (3), 1967/68 v WI to 1968/69 v Pak (12)
SM Gavaskar (India) 1971-1987 125 47 5 1975/76 v NZ (1), 1978/79 v WI to 1978/79 v WI (6), 1979/80 v Aus to 1979/80 v Pak (11), 1980/81 v Aus to 1982/83 v Pak (22), 1984/85 v Pak to 1984/85 v Eng (7)
AJ Stewart (Eng) 1990-2003 133 15 5 1992/93 v India (1), 1992/93 v SL (1), 1998 v SA to 1998/99 v Aus (11), 2000 v WI (1), 2001 v Pak (1)
KJ Hughes (Aus) 1977-1984 70 28 4 1978/79 v Pak to 1979/80 v India (7), 1981 v Eng to 1981 v Eng (6), 1982/83 v Pak to 1982/83 v Pak (3), 1983/84 v Pak to 1984/85 v WI (12)
Wasim Akram (Pak) 1985-2002 104 25 4 1992/93 v WI to 1993/94 v Zim (5), 1995/96 v Aus to 1996/97 v Zim (9), 1997/98 v WI to 1997/98 v WI (3), 1998/99 v India to 1999/00 v Aus (8)
AC Gilchrist (Aus) 1999-2008 96 6 4 2000/01 v WI (1), 2001 v Eng (1), 2004 v SL (1), 2004/05 v India to 2004/05 v India (3)
R Dravid (ICC/India) 1996-2012 163 25 4 2003/04 v NZ (1), 2003/04 v Pak to 2003/04 v Pak (2), 2004/05 v Aus to 2004/05 v Aus (2), 2005/06 v SL to 2007 v Eng (20)
BC Lara (ICC/WI) 1990-2006 131 47 4 1996/97 v India (1), 1997/98 v Eng to 1999/00 v NZ (17), 2003 v Aus to 2004 v Eng (22), 2006 v India to 2006/07 v Pak (7)

Imran was back as captain after that and led Pakistan in Australia in 1989-90. However, according to Wisden, he declined the PCB's invitation to play New Zealand at home in 1990, and appealed to the board to cancel the tour because he felt the visitors were a B team. Richard Hadlee and Martin Snedden had retired, while John Wright, Andrew Jones and John Bracewell were unavailable. So the PCB turned to Miandad again, and Pakistan won 3-0.

After leading Pakistan to victory in the 1992 World Cup, Imran had initially made himself available for the summer's tour to England, but then pulled out, citing a shoulder injury. He never played for Pakistan again. So Miandad once again was captain and he led Pakistan to a 2-1 victory in England. Miandad's final Test as captain was the one-off match against New Zealand in Hamilton in January 1993. Pakistan won it by 33 runs. By the time Pakistan toured the Caribbean that year, the leadership was Wasim Akram's.

During Miandad's stop-start Test captaincy, he also led Pakistan in 62 ODIs, which were broken into 12 stints. The longest stretch was 15 ODIs - between 1980-81 and 1981-82, and also between 1984-85 and 1985-86. Pakistan won 26, lost 33 and tied one ODI under Miandad.

Adam Gilchrist was vice-captain for large parts of his 12-year career and he led Australia in 17 ODIs, divided into 12 stints as well. There was one three-match stretch, against West Indies and Zimbabwe in 2000-01, while eight matches were one-off captaincy requirements, and the others in three batches of two. He was only called upon when either Steve Waugh or Ricky Ponting was unavailable, which wasn't very often.

Most spells as captain (with a game as non-captain in between) - ODIs
Player Span Mat Capt Num List
Javed Miandad (Pak) 1975-1996 233 62 12 1980/81 v WI to 1981/82 v SL (15), 1983/84 v WI to 1983/84 v WI (3), 1984/85 v NZ to 1985/86 v SL (15), 1985/86 v NZ to 1985/86 v Aus (2), 1986/87 v WI (1), 1986/87 v Aus (1), 1988/89 v Aus to 1988/89 v SL (5), 1989/90 v India (1), 1990/91 v NZ to 1990/91 v NZ (3), 1991/92 v WI (1), 1991/92 v Eng (1), 1992 v Eng to 1992/93 v Aus (14)
AC Gilchrist (Aus/ICC) 1996-2008 287 17 12 2000/01 v WI to 2000/01 v Zim (3), 2002 v Kenya (1), 2002/03 v Eng (1), 2003/04 v India (1), 2003/04 v SL (1), 2004/05 v NZ (1), 2005/06 v SL to 2005/06 v SL (2), 2005/06 v SA to 2005/06 v SA (2), 2005/06 v Ban (1), 2006/07 v Eng (1), 2006/07 v Eng (1), 2007/08 v India to 2007/08 v India (2)
IVA Richards (WI) 1975-1991 187 105 10 1980 v Eng (1), 1981/82 v Aus to 1981/82 v Aus (2), 1983/84 v India (1), 1983/84 v Pak (1), 1983/84 v Pak (1), 1983/84 v Aus (1), 1983/84 v Aus (1), 1984/85 v SL (1), 1984/85 v SL (1), 1984/85 v NZ to 1991 v Eng (95)
AJ Stewart (Eng) 1989-2003 170 41 8 1991/92 v NZ (1), 1991/92 v SA to 1991/92 v NZ (2), 1992 v Pak (1), 1992/93 v SL to 1992/93 v SL (2), 1995/96 v SA (1), 1998 v SL to 2000 v WI (27), 2001 v Pak to 2001 v Aus (6), 2002/03 v Nam (1)
R Dravid (Asia/ICC/India) 1996-2011 344 79 8 2000/01 v Zim (1), 2001 v SL (1), 2002/03 v WI to 2002/03 v WI (2), 2003/04 v NZ to 2003/04 v NZ (4), 2003/04 v Aus (1), 2003/04 v Zim (1), 2004/05 v Pak to 2005 v SL (7), 2005/06 v SL to 2007 v Eng (62)
DPMD Jayawardene (Asia/SL) 1998-2012 359 97 7 2004 v Zim (1), 2004 v UAE (1), 2004 v SA to 2004 v SA (2), 2005 v WI (1), 2005 v Ban (1), 2005/06 v Ban to 2005/06 v Ban (3), 2005/06 v Pak to 2008/09 v India (88)
JG Wright (NZ) 1978-1992 149 31 6 1982/83 v SL (1), 1983/84 v SL (1), 1985/86 v SL to 1985/86 v Pak (2), 1987/88 v SL (1), 1987/88 v SL (1), 1987/88 v Eng to 1990 v Eng (25)
MA Taylor (Aus) 1989-1997 113 67 6 1992/93 v WI to 1992/93 v WI (4), 1992/93 v NZ (1), 1992/93 v NZ (1), 1993 v Eng (1), 1993/94 v SA (1), 1993/94 v SL to 1997 v Eng (59)
A Jadeja (India) 1992-2000 196 13 6 1998 v Kenya to 1998 v Ban (2), 1998/99 v Zim (1), 1998/99 v SL to 1998/99 v Pak (3), 1998/99 v Eng to 1998/99 v Pak (2), 1999 v Aus (1), 1999/00 v SA to 1999/00 v SA (4)
BC Lara (ICC/WI) 1990-2007 299 125 6 1994/95 v India (1), 1994/95 v NZ (1), 1997/98 v Eng to 1999/00 v NZ (42), 2003 v Aus to 2004 v Eng (35), 2004/05 v Aus to 2004/05 v Pak (6), 2006 v Zim to 2006/07 v Eng (40)
MJ Clarke (Aus) 2003-2011 206 35 6 2008 v WI to 2008 v Ban (5), 2008/09 v NZ (1), 2009 v Pak to 2009 v Eng (9), 2010/11 v India to 2010/11 v SL (2), 2010/11 v SL to 2010/11 v Eng (7), 2011 v Ban to 2011/12 v SA (11)
V Sehwag (Asia/ICC/India) 1999-2011 240 11 6 2003 v Ban (1), 2005/06 v SL (1), 2005/06 v Eng (1), 2006/07 v SA to 2006/07 v SA (2), 2009/10 v SL to 2009/10 v SL (2), 2011/12 v WI to 2011/12 v WI (4)

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Bryn on January 27, 2012, 13:40 GMT

    wow didnt realise gilly captained so early in his career. clarke was fulltime skipper in bangla and south africa by the way

  • Bilal on January 27, 2012, 13:29 GMT

    One of the things you said are wrong first of all Imran Khan has retired in 1992 not 1987! When is Tendulker going to retire?

  • Pelham on January 26, 2012, 14:02 GMT

    @zsn: Venkat was indeed left out of the side for the third Test against the West Indies in 1974-75 after standing in for Pataudi as captain in the second Test. However, he only captained India in four other Tests, all on the 1979 tour of England. Thus he only had two separate spells as a Test captain. He captained India in seven ODIs in three spells - the first two World Cups and in between them one match in New Zealand as deputy for Bishan Bedi.

  • sachit on January 26, 2012, 10:50 GMT

    mahela who is in the list above will again function as the skipper in Aus. for how long is a different matter altogether.

  • PALLAB on January 26, 2012, 4:11 GMT

    Stand-in captain Ganguly at the DMC ODI Cup in Toronto in 1999 immediately showed his captaincy skills and leadership value by leading a non-star studded team to victory. Ganguly took to captaincy like a duck takes to water. I see a lot of Venkatraghavan in Ashwin-same erudite approach to cricket and superb enunciation of his cricketing thought processes. Could be a long-shot captain for India (by throwing him in the deep end like S Africa did with G Smith in 2003) and hopefully becomes more potent as an offie than Venkat ever was (always 2nd choice to Prasanna) to justify his place. Or maybe Ash could do a Shastri and become a batsman with part-time off spin as a bonus (even like WV Raman, his state mate). @Mitcher, yes fans have almost forgotten that Gilly was captain in that 2004 series before Ponting returned and immediately lost the Mumbai Test on a raging turner...hehe.

  • PALLAB on January 26, 2012, 4:08 GMT

    LOL, Imran used to lord it over PCB like SOMETHING never seen before in the history of international cricket captaincy- captaincy by leisure, choice and demand. Towards the end of his Test and even ODI career, Imran was a deadweight in bowling and barely eking out runs from memory; his fielding was always atrocious and he just regally led the team superbly from mid-on -onto World Cup victory. For about 2 years, he was the Brearley of Pakistan. Street-smart and gut-feel captain Akram could have had a longer run but for the factional and endemic divisive team politics of Team Pakistan. During the phase in late-90s when captain Akram treated Waqar quite badly, Akram would never have imagined that Waqar would one day captain him and the tensions were evident right thru. Just for the record (correct me if I have missed a name LOL) :Imran,Javed,Akram,S.Malik, Latif,Rameez,Sohail, Anwar,Moin,Waqar,Inzy,Shoaib M. ,Butt,Younis,Yousuf,Afridi,Misbah-17 Test captains for Pakistan in 20 years.

  • Terry on January 25, 2012, 23:13 GMT

    Kim Hughes is different from most on the list. He wasnt just the vice captain whom was taking over when the captain was sick. He was the captain whom had to reliquish command when a part-time player in Greg Chappell decided that he wanted to play another series and expected the captancy. Whilst I was less then 10 at the time, I have read a lot about what occurred during that period and I think what the board did to Kim was terrible ... no wonder Australia lost so many series during that period. No consistency in captancy, no consistency in playing!

  • Mick on January 25, 2012, 22:43 GMT

    Another interesting part of Gilchrist's turns as captain is that he played the lead role as skipper during Australia's 'final frontier' Test series win in India. From memory I think Ponting only returned for the final test once the series was wrapped up. I wonder, do they both get credit for leading such a historic series win?

  • Dummy4 on January 25, 2012, 19:53 GMT

    @Sundar Devadiga - Meh. Arguably it also is the sport with the most meaningful stats.

  • Sriram on January 25, 2012, 19:12 GMT

    You have to include Venkat in this discussion: who else has suffered the indignity of going out with the drinks, as 12th man, the match after he went out for the toss, as captain? He was the the poster-child for one-off captaincy, and did it time and again. My recollection is that he was on-again-off-again captain at least four times.

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