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The captaincy of Harry Trott

1896-98

Few of cricket's many textbooks touch on captaincy, except in passing and other than in the most general terms. Richie Benaud called it 90% luck, 9% hard work, and 1% skill - but warned against tackling it without the final per cent.

If a pioneer be sought for that demanding hundredth, it might be Harry Trott, who led Australia in the second half of the 1890s: Ranjitsinjhi thought him "probably the best captain Australia ever had". Previous skippers had tended to rigid field settings and pre-determined bowling changes; Trott moved fieldsmen and shuffled bowlers ceaselessly, sometimes involving his own legspin. "Trott had almost an uncanny knowledge of batsmen who were likely to succumb to his wiles," said Warwick Armstrong.

Trott was also among the first to deliberately rest bowlers in order that they might come back fresh. "They felt he understood the gruelling nature of their work," said JC Davis, Australian cricket's leading critic of the day, "and that they had his sympathy in the grimmest of battles". Not a great player himself, Trott perceived that much of the game was played above the shoulders. Wisden thought him "blessed with a temper that nothing could ruffle" - the quality was contagious.