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ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2023 Captain of the year nominees: Rohit, Cummins or Harmanpreet - who led better?

Two Australians and two Indians make it to our shortlist

Rohit Sharma so nearly had the World Cup in his grasp  •  AFP/Getty Images

Rohit Sharma so nearly had the World Cup in his grasp  •  AFP/Getty Images

Pat Cummins
Tests: P11 W5 L4 D2
ODIs: P13 W10 L3

Cummins' second year of full-time captaincy nearly played out like a dream as Australia won the World Test Championship final, retained the Ashes after a hard-fought drawn series in England, and then lifted the ODI World Cup in India. He came under criticism for his own performances, both in the Ashes and the World Cup, but delivered when it mattered - bowling one of the balls of the Ashes to dismiss Harry Brook in England's chase at Lord's, forging a match-winning partnership with Nathan Lyon to seal a dramatic two-wicket win at Edgbaston, contributing (mostly in spirit) in a record stand as Glenn Maxwell smashed a World Cup double-hundred from No. 6, and dismissing a set David Miller in the World Cup semi-final and Virat Kohli in the final. His fielding tactics in that last match kept India's powerhouse batting in check, including the decision to bowl first having been unsure about it right until the toss. He ended the year with a series-clinching ten-wicket haul in the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan. All this, while dealing with the loss of his mother, who passed away in March during the series in India, which Australia lost 2-1.
Rohit Sharma
Tests: P8 W3 L3 D2
ODIs: P27 W21 L5 NR1

At 36, Rohit doesn't have a lot of time left to cement his India legacy, so losing the World Test Championship and World Cup finals when the team got so close to both trophies in 2023 will have hurt, but he can take comfort from the fact that India have become a dominant, often unstoppable, force in Tests and ODIs under his captaincy. He led from the front, particularly in the World Cup, giving them lightning-quick starts and scoring 58% of India's total runs while he was at the crease. Apart from retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with a 2-1 win at home, India also secured one other major title in the year - the Asia Cup, after gutting Sri Lanka for 51 in the final.
Meg Lanning
ODIs: P3 W3
T20Is: P8 W8

Such was Lanning's impact that she makes it to our nominees list despite not having played international cricket for ten months in the year. But whatever she played, she won, including Australia's third successive T20 World Cup title; four out of their six match wins on the way to the title could be described as one-sided. "Winning is a little bit of a habit," she said in March last year. "A lot of it is very simple; it's just being very calm under pressure, playing to your strengths when you're under the pump and also playing with freedom and try and enjoy what you're doing."
Harmanpreet Kaur
Tests: P2 W2
ODIS: P4 W1 L2 T1
T20Is: P16 W9 L6 NR1

Although India fell agonisingly short of reaching their second T20 World Cup final when they lost to Australia by five runs in the semi-final, they got some results going their way when they won the Asian Games cricket gold and two Tests at home. The Asian Games final, against Sri Lanka, was Harmanpreet's 100th T20I as India's captain. More satisfying than that title would have been the massive Test wins against England (by 347 runs) and Australia (by eight wickets), the latter being India's first in the format against England. Harmanpreet made solid contributions with the bat in both innings in that match, and took two crucial wickets against Australia. Another feather in her cap was leading Mumbai Indians to the inaugural WPL title while getting one over her old Australian nemesis, Meg Lanning.
Hashmatullah Shahidi
Tests: P1 L1
ODIs: P20 W7 L13

Shahidi led Afghanistan in their most successful ODI World Cup campaign, where they won four out of nine, including against England, Pakistan and Sri Lanka (and reducing eventual champions Australia to 91 for 7). In contrast to their 2019 World Cup performance, where they lost all nine matches, Afghanistan looked a far more efficient batting side, stitching together partnerships, avoiding collapses, and reducing their dot-ball percentage while maintaining a healthy balls-per-boundary rate. Shahidi also led them to their first bilateral ODI series win over Bangladesh, a 2-1 away victory in July.