Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Greatest Cricket Captain of the last 4 decades - Part 2

In part 1 of the same post I had mentioned a criteria covering 3 factors to decide on the best cricket captain of the last 40 years. Part 1 ranked the captains according to win ratio, and here I move on to the 2nd factor - performance of the ranked cricketers as captains.

Before I go on to comparing the performances of the top 10 captains, I want to take some of them off the list due to a number of reasons, with Hansie Cronje being the first. Undoubtedly he was a good captain but with the match fixing scandal lingering over his head, I believe it is a huge blemish on the man's career and doubts will always remain whether or not South Africa were paid to be "chokers" under him.

I will also remove the man who tops the list - Ricky Ponting. He is arguably the best batsman in the world and will definitely go on to break all batting records in tests, but I don't rank him as one of the best captains because he inherited the team from Steve Waugh. His test as a captain begins now after Warne and McGrath have moved on and it will be interesting to see how he fares as captain hereon and especially after the likes of Hayden and Gilchrist hang up their boots. Plus another factor against Ponting is the same reason I went against Alan Border, i.e. the Cricket Australia structure.

I also leave out Micheal Vaughan as he has been in and out of the team lately due to injury and he hasn't been captain long enough to be judged along side the greats in my list. Shaun Pollock also misses out as he is the only bowler in a list dominated by batsmen and to judge a bowler's performance against that of batsmen is a difficult task.

This leaves us with 6 captains to decide from and here are their performances in tests in which they captained.

It is interesting to note here that Viv Richards, who was rated as one of the best captains by the blog from where I got the idea of doing such an analysis, was a much better batsman when he wasn't captaining the side. His batting average as captain fell by more than 5 runs per innings as compared to his career average. Sir Richards averaged 53.64 in the 71 test matches he played while he wasn't captain, 8 runs higher than his average as captain. Moreover, in those 71 matches he managed 18 centuries, while in the next 50 as captain, he managed only 6. Finally, his case is similar to that of Pontings - he continued from where Lloyd left.

Brearley can easily be discarded from the list as his performance as captain or otherwise isn't much to speak of. I would also leave Mark Taylor out based on the numbers above.

This leaves us with Steve Waugh, Clive Lloyd, and Ian Chappell, the last of whom improves on his career batting performance the most when playing as a captain. Steve Waugh and Clive Lloyd have very similar records as captains, although Lloyd's improvement from his career average is much more than Waugh's. At this time, I still think Waugh has his nose slightly in front as he ranked #2 in part 1 and #1 here.

Watch this space for the final part where I analyze the 3rd criterion and reach a decision on who has been the best cricket captain in the last 40 years.

Make your pitch on this post...

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11 Pitched:

  1. obaid said...

    Interesting, in depth analysis. Will you also be factoring in bowling performances? For example Imran and Kapil's performances with the ball when they were captain?

  2. Soulberry said...

    The bowlers have to be brought in somehow. I think Imran did much better as a captain with both bat and ball. (I have to check that up but I remember there being a discussion on this at 606 and I think the figures are in his favor when a captain)

    Steve Waugh begins with the same advantage Ponting has. Mark Taylor gave him a team and McGrath and Warne were reasonably settled in by that time.

    In these transitions, there is one another things...good captaincy will include those who have been able to mainatin and carry forward from where they began. Many times, a captain may have worked but the successor undoes the previous legacy.

    Cricket Australia is a superstructure that will be available to all Oz captains since Border.

    Indidvidual performance has to be a criterion too as you have rightly observed Q.

  3. Q said...

    Thank u for your comments guys. You see the reason Imran Khan is not on the list, is cause of the reason i mentioned in Part 1 of the series - his win ratio (29.16%) is too less for him to be considered one of the best captains.

    I'm sure his performance as captain would have been better than as a player, but the fact that he won only 29% of the matches as captain goes against him. The intangibles are definitely there - he built a team, got the players he wanted, and so on but that didnt translate into wins.

    My criteria takes into account the top 10 captains in terms of win ratio and then assess their performance.

    Kapil Dev similarly loses out as his win ratio is only 11.76%.

    I don't agree that Waughs case is similar to Pontings. Mark Taylor had a win ratio of 52% and Waugh improved that to 72%, while ponting has maintained that at 77%.

    Moreover players like hayden, langer, martyn all made their returns to the team under waugh who pushed for their inclusion. And Waugh took the Australian team to greater heights than Taylor ever managed. If u recall under Taylor, after winning a series, Australia would usually end up losing the dead game in the rubber. That changed under Waugh as Australia becamse a ruthless unit which led them to their dream run of 16 consecutive test wins.

    While Taylor made the Australians into a winning unit, Waugh coverted them into an invincible and ruthless one. Ponting has continued on from there.

  4. obaid said...

    q, how can we factor in the fact that in the 80s and before there was no tradition for trying to win a test match as aggressively. For example if Imran's win rate is 29%, how does it compare to his loss and draw rate?

    Im just wondering how accurate win rate is as a measure of success over the ages. These days very few test matches are drawn and the game is much more result oriented.

  5. NAzhar said...

    great analysis, Q....i agree with Obaid it would be interesting to factor in the era in which the captain was the captain....also it would be nice to factor in the averages of the players as a dependant factor is how good the players are that one is captaining....i wonder if the Aussie captains would be as good captaining another site?

  6. Q said...

    Your assessment is right Obaid, Imran Khan lost only 16% of the games as captain. A high 54% of the matches were drawn.

    Thus maybe the loss ratio should be taken into account as well.

    I'll think about that and include it on Part 3, which may not be the final part as thought...

    Nazhar, you also make a valid point of assessing the players under each captain. Would Waugh be as good a captain of the New Zealand side? Or the Pakistan side? I think thats tough to answer.

  7. Obaid said...
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  8. Obaid said...

    Thanks Q. Another hard to measure metric is the number of players discovered and groomed by the captain. I think no one did this more than Imran for Pakistan. Wasim, Waqar, Inzi, Mushtaq etc were all players who were groomed, if not discovered by Inzi as well. I know in other countries there are working systems and institutions, but in Pakistan things are more ad hoc.

  9. Andrew Mosey said...

    I'm suprised that Flemming doesn't get a look in.. though he is a kiwi so fair enuf.

  10. Q said...

    Andrey Mosey - I've mentioned Stephen Fleming in Part 1 of this series (

    As I have explained in Part 1, Fleming falls into the same category as captains like Allan Border, Imran Khan, and Saurav Ganguly who have those intangible qualities that a leader should possess, but they haven't been translated into wins.

  11. mikesiva said...

    As you know, Q, I value the success of a captain by how invincible he was as a leader. The aura created by Clive Lloyd was one of a captain who never lost a series after the 1981 tour of New Zealand. That was an aura continued by Viv Richards.

    that is something even Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting have not been able to achieve....

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