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Six before Paine: surprise captains

From New Zealand's Lee Germon, who debuted as New Zealand captain, to Floyd Reifer, who took charge of West Indies while they were in the middle of a contracts crisis

Australia's stand-in captain Tim Paine fronts the media after the defeat at Newlands, South Africa v Australia, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 4th day, March 25, 2018

Australia's stand-in captain Tim Paine fronts the media  •  AFP

Tests before captaincy debut: 12
In 2017, Tim Paine had all but given up hopes of making an international comeback and was seriously contemplating a post-cricket career with sports equipment manufacturer Kookaburra. Then, the selectors picked him for the 2017 Ashes against England. He had not played a Test for seven years, after a serious finger injury in an ACA All-Stars game put his future in doubt.
In the aftermath of the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town, Steven Smith and David Warner were stood down, and Paine found himself taking temporary charge in the middle of the Test match. Following Smith and Warner's one-year bans, Paine was announced as permanent captain, capping one of the most dramatic career turnarounds in recent times.
Tests before captaincy debut: 19
Misbah was 36 and had played just 19 Test matches over eight years since debut when he took the reins for Pakistan. Funnily enough, a few months before his captaincy debut, he was contemplating retirement from all forms of cricket. In 2010, Pakistan cricket fell into crisis after three cricketers, including captain Salman Butt, were charged with spot-fixing. Butt had already been the third captain Pakistan had tried that year; Shahid Afridi had retired from Tests, and Mohammad Yousuf had lost seven straight games in Australia. Meanwhile, the senior-most member of the team, Younis Khan, was feuding with the board chairman, Ijaz Butt. So, Misbah not only returned to the Pakistan team, but was named captain.
It was a decision that came without the selectors' nod, and Mohsin Khan, Pakistan's chief selector at that time, said, "The selection committee has nothing to do with the appointment of the captain." As things turned out, Misbah went on to become Pakistan's most successful Test captain and led the side for seven years before retiring in 2017, at the age of 43.
Tests before captaincy debut: 4
After debuting against Sri Lanka in 1997, Reifer went on to play just two more Tests and one more one-day international after that tour before finding himself out of the West Indies squad. He then moved to Scotland and earned a place in the Scottish Saltires squad in 2004. Three years later, following some decent domestic performances, he announced he was still ready to be chosen for West Indies. And he was, in the most unexpected circumstances. In 2009, the West Indies squad picked to face Bangladesh in Kingstown decided to boycott the Test a day before its start. The players had been embroiled in a long-standing argument with the board over contracts. The board scrambled to organise a replacement side and named Reifer, the oldest player, its captain. He led West Indies in two Tests, six ODIs and a T20I in 2009 before being dropped from the team.
Tests before captaincy debut: 8
It was Darren Sammy, who took over from Reifer. The first international cricketer from St.Lucia, Sammy struggled to hold down a place in the Test side after a memorable 7 for 66 on debut at Old Trafford in 2007. But he got an opportunity to shine as part of the Reifer-led weakened side and picked up 12 wickets in the two-Test series against Bangladesh. Chris Gayle returned as captain for one Test in 2009, but when he and Dwayne Bravo, the vice-captain, refused to sign central contracts in 2010, Sammy was appointed captain.
While he did lead West Indies to their first Test win in two years, the overall results were disappointing. After winning six Tests in a row, losses against India and New Zealand, along with his middling form with both bat and ball, saw him being replaced as captain by Denesh Ramdin in May 2014.
Tests before captaincy debut: 8
Smith was just 22 when he became South Africa's youngest captain in 2003. The team was still trying to rebuild their reputation after former captain Hansie Cronje admitted to match-fixing in 2000. Shaun Pollock had initially been the man charged with that project but was removed after South Africa failed to get past the first round of the 2003 World Cup. Despite there being more experienced players in the team, Smith was deemed to have enough leadership skills to replace Pollock.
If there were any doubts about how captaincy would affect him, he instantly showed that he was up for it, smashing double-centuries in his third and fourth Tests as captain. His greatest moments came years later, as he led South Africa to their firstTest series win in Australia during the 2008-09 tour. By the time he retired, he had led the side in 109 Tests, more than anyone else in the game's history, raking up a record 53 wins and taking South Africa to No. 1 in the ICC Test rankings.
Tests before captaincy debut: 0
During New Zealand's 1994-95 tour of South Africa, three young cricketers admitted to smoking marijuana at an informal function in Paarl. That and the team's poor form in the following home season caused a shake-up in management. Glenn Turner was brought in as coach and he wanted to appoint a captain with proven leadership skills, who had the respect of the players, and could maintain discipline both on and off the field by his own example. Lee Germon had not played Test cricket, but was renowned as a leader after molding Canterbury into the best provincial team in the country. So, he was named Test captain on debut in 1995 and, in his first-ever Test , led a side featuring a number of senior players, including Martin Crowe, Mark Greatbatch and Danny Morrison.
Tests before captaincy debut: 3
Aged 21, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi was chosen to lead India in grim circumstances, after incumbent Nari Contractor was struck by a Charlie Griffith bouncer in the middle of India's 1962 tour to West Indies. It was a relatively left-field choice, with the likes of Polly Umrigar and Chandu Borde in the squad. India were 2-0 down in the series, and Pataudi, who had lost sight in his right eye in an accident only months before, led them for the three remaining Tests; they slid to a 5-0 whitewash.
Things would improve, and under Pataudi's leadership, India would go on to win 9 of their 40 Tests, with a memorable maiden overseas Test series win in New Zealand the crowning highlight. He is famous for having instilled belief in the Indian team, who were previously resigned to losing to more experienced oppositions.