I came across a very interesting blog discussing who the greatest captain has been since the post-packer era. While the author discussed the likes of Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, Mark Taylor, and Steve Waugh, the readers gave their own views and bounced off names like Imran Khan, Allan Border, Saurav Ganguly, Mike Brearly, and Stephen Fleming. The author concluded that Lloyd and Richards ranked ahead of Taylor and Waugh but left it to the readers to decide between the two great West Indians.
The author's basis of ranking the West Indians above the Australians was that they led more invincible sides, i.e. lost a lesser number of test series. Is that the correct criteria? According Mikesiva, it is, but it got me pondering. Do we judge captains on who has a higher win ratio or who lost fewer series? Or do we judge them on intangibles such as who was a good leader of men - Who managed the teams better? Or who converted mediocre players into world beaters? I guess its a combination of all factors.
I think a combination of win ratios, performance of the player as a captain, and his performance in the wins spells out a good criteria to judge who the best captain is. There is no way to measure the intangibles, but as you will see, those regarded as the best leaders of men, have very low win ratios thus counting them out of the race.
If one were to judge based on the highest win ratios then Ricky Ponting (77%) and Steve Waugh (72%) head the table. While Steve Waugh can definitely be counted as one of the best leaders, I don't feel the same way about Ricky Ponting since he inherited a world beating team from the former.
If you look for intangibles such as best motivators, or those who created champion teams, then the likes of Allan Border and Imran Khan come to mind, but their win ratios are very low - 34% and 29% respectively and don't feature in the top 10 win ratios of captains since 1965.
Stephen Fleming and Saurav Ganguly also fit into this category of leaders with intangible qualities. However, neither, with ratios of 35% and 43% respectively, features in the top 10 list. While Fleming converted average individuals into a good team, Ganguly achieved what no other international captain has been able to in the last decade or so - beating Australia in a test series and holding them to a draw in another.
While Mikesiva thinks Lloyd and Richards, I tend towards Waugh because of his higher win ratio coupled with the fact that he converted the Aussies into a ruthless and invincible unit, something Mikesiva says is essential to term one as the 'best captain'. But I still don't have my definite answer - I will though in subsequent parts to this where I will compare the other criterions I mention.
There are a number of names in the list above, who have not been discussed and I intend to do that in Part 2. Stay tuned for that, but in the meantime, do give me your opinion about who you think is the best cricket captain to have played during the period discussed?