A captain holds one of the most important roles in the sport of cricket, if not the most important. While he is aided by coaching staff in the dressing room, the skipper is the one who has to make all the tough decisions on the field.
A successful leader makes the most of the resources at his disposal and backs his players to the hilt. He has an even tougher job in Test cricket, where just one bad session of play can change the momentum of the game.
Over the years, we have seen a number of inspired teams who have been led by aggressive skippers, and we take a look at the most successful captain in the longer format of the game.
Graeme Smith (109 Tests – 53 wins, 29 losses, 27 draws)
Asked to become the Test captain of at the age of 22 when he had played just 8 Tests, the appointment of Graeme Smith as skipper of the longer format came as a huge surprise.
However, he went on to write history as the Proteas were a team to beat under his rein. Smith led the side in 109 Tests – the only player in the history of the game to lead in 100+ Tests – with 53 wins (most Test wins as skipper), 29 losses, and 27 draws.
A win percentage of just under 49 gives a hint of how dominant the South Africans were from 2003 to 2014, the period Smith led the side.
The player notched up 8659 runs as a captain with the help of 25 tons – the highest by any captain.
Ricky Ponting (77 Tests – 48 wins, 16 losses, 13 draws)
The Australian team stamped their authority in the late 90s and early 2000s with comprehensive wins around the world. Leading the team of world-beaters was Ricky Ponting, who ensured that the Kangaroos made the era their own.
In Test matches, the Australian captained the side in 77 games, with 48 Test wins, which is the second-highest by any skipper in the longer format.
His win percentage of 62.33 is the second-highest among all Test skippers who have led in at least 25 matches.
Under his leadership, the Australian team also registered the feat of 16 wins in a row (between 2005 and 2008), which was only halted after the Indian side sprung a surprise to get the better of the side in Perth in 2008.
Ponting was also at the forefront with the bat, scoring 6542 runs (the third-highest as skipper) at an impressive average of 51.51.
Steve Waugh (57 Tests – 41 wins, 9 losses, 7 draws)
While Ponting was a beast as captain, it was Steve Waugh who led the foundation and took the Australian team to new heights.
The player took over the reins of Test cricket in Australia in 1999 and led the side to instant success, as they registered 16 wins in a row under him, from October 1999 to February 2001. The streak was once again broken by a determined Indian team in the famous Test match in Kolkata, where the hosts came back brilliantly after following on to register a win for the ages.
Waugh, with a win percentage of 71.92 – the highest in the world by any captain who has led in at least 25 games, was a true legend of Australian cricket.
Clive Lloyd and Virat Kohli (36 wins apiece)
The joint fourth-most successful Test skipper in the world are Clive Lloyd and Virat Kohli, with 36 wins apiece.
Both players have had a huge role to play in their team’s cricketing culture, and it is only a matter of time before the Indian surpasses Lloyd in the list.
Thus far, the Indian captain has led India in 60 games, with 36 wins to his name. He became the most successful Indian skipper at home this February when he led his team to a 10-wicket win against England – his 22nd at home.
He surpassed MS Dhoni, who has 21 Test wins in Asia.
Lloyd, on the other hand, ensured that the West Indies ruled cricket in the 1970s and 1980s, with his aggressive brand of captaincy.
Though he was more successful in One Day Internationals (64 wins from 84 games), Lloyd’s West Indies lost only 12 games in the 74 matches that he captained (36 wins).
His loss percentage of 16.21 is the third-best in the world in Test cricket, behind Waugh and Vivian Richards.