Cricket or any team game for that matter requires a huge role that is to be played by the leader. Good players make for a good side but it is only when a team is blessed with a good skipper that it is able to get the best out of those good players. Cricket is no different in this regard. Over the years, the game has seen many players who as captains led their sides to do miracles on the field, even when they weren’t the favorites. These captains have proved that a leader need not be the best player in the team; rather he is the one who identifies the best in each player of the team. It is the list of such marvelous captains that we present to you in this article.
10. Arjun Ranatunga
A left-hand batsman was given the charge of Sri Lankan team in 1988. At that time, the side had a bunch of players who were yet to earn a name in international cricket, forget about winning a cup. It is from here that Ranatunga built a side fit enough to challenge the top teams in the world and eventually achieve the dream of winning the World Cup in 1996. A remarkable personality in himself, Ranatunga is credited with blessing the Sri Lankan side with many great cricketers like Jayasuriya and Muralitharan.
9. Brendon McCullum
One of the most underrated teams in both test and ODI cricket, New Zealand side has often surprised people on a number of occasions with their performance. The side has had some amazing skippers over the years but the one who stands out is the latest one i.e. Brendon McCullum. With a staggering winning percentage of more than 80% in world tournaments, he is pretty much everything a captain should be. A fine batsman, a splendid keeper and an intelligent player and that is why he figures in our list of best cricket captains.
8. Graeme Smith
Proteas have been one of the most consistent sides in the history of cricket. Known to be one of most hard working side, they have also been consistently unlucky! That is precisely why they have earned the tag of being the “chokers”. But the South African team has over the years produced some brilliant captains who have led the side to attain number 1 ranking in both test and ODI on many occasions. One of such and probably the finest of them all is Graeme Smith. One of the best left handed batsmen of his times, Smith also led his side to chase record total of 434 against the Australian side.
7. Steve Waugh
Australians have long dominated cricket and one of the reasons for this is the captains they have been blessed with in the past. Among many greats that have led the Australian side so far, Steve Waugh definitely acquires the topmost slot. Although he was not among the greatest of batsmen in his times, he sure made a hell of a captain. With a scientific and strategic outlook towards the game, he led his side to win the World Cup in 1999 and an invincible record of 16 consecutive test victories in 1999-2000.
6. Sourav Ganguly
Famously known as “Dada”, Sourav Ganguly may just be the most badass cricketer Indian cricket has ever seen. Be it the Natwest Final of 2005 or the World Cup Final of 2003, Ganguly never felt short of emotions. When he took over the Indian team, it had literally gone to the dogs. He then built it with his hard work, brought players like Sehwag, Yuvraj and Harbhajan who later on took Indian cricket to new heights. He came very close to his magic moment in 2003 when India reached the World Cup Final but lost to Australia. However, that doesn’t take away even an ounce of praise that he is worthy of. For some, he is the best captain Indian side has ever had.
5. M S Dhoni
In the past decade or perhaps since India has been playing cricket, if there was one cricketer who could come close to the glory of the little master Sachin Tendulkar, it would definitely be Mahendra Singh Dhoni. A sensation not just in the field but off it as well, Dhoni has now been a part of the Indian side for more than a decade and has captained it for more than half of it. A cool headed man, leading comes almost naturally to him as he is able to keep his nerves calm even in most troubled waters. As a result of this, he has been able to bring home two World Cups, one T-20 and one ODI. Apart from this, Dhoni also holds a number of captaincy records such as most wins by an Indian captain in Tests and ODIs, and most back-to-back wins by any Indian captain in ODIs.
4. Ricky Ponting
Easily among top 5 batsmen to have played this game ever, Ricky Ponting can be best described as a captain who always led his team from the front. Be it the World Cup Final of 2003 against India or the Ashes of 2007, Ponting never let his side down. Under his captaincy i.e. 2004-2011, Australian cricket saw its ‘golden era’ where it won two World Cups and remained at number one spot for most of the time. Ponting also holds the record for being the only player in the history to be a part of 100 test match wins.
3. Clive Llyod
West Indian captain was responsible for taking the team to the glory of winning the World Cup twice, in 1975 and 1979. What is even more remarkable is the fact that these were the first two World Cups ever held and the West Indian team won both of them consequently. Although he was blessed with a team full of stars at that time, Clive lead the side from the front. One of the best batsmen of his time, Clive Llyod was also named Wisden Cricketer of the year in 1971.
2. Imran Khan
Cricketer turned politician Imran Khan ranks second in our list because of his contribution to a team which very few thought worthy of a winning a World Cup, until they actually won it. When asked about what team members thought about Imran Khan, one of the players said that he was the most respected as well as most feared guy in the squad. Now, that is a true mark of a captain! The side Imran Khan led to victory in 1992 World Cup did not have any superstar. In fact, none of the players in his side ranked in top 5 at that time, but it is sheer determination and skills of the captain they were blessed with that inspired them to defeat all the others and carry the World Cup for the first and last time since. Probably what Pakistani side needs today the most is another leader like Imran Khan.
1. Kapil Dev
After winning two World Cups in 1975 and 1979, it was almost obvious that West Indies were easily going to complete the triad in 1983. However, as the West Indian marched their way to the final, they were defeated to not just theirs but everyone’s surprise by the underdogs, Indians who were led by one of the best cricketer ever to have played this game, Kapil Dev. The Indian all-rounder held the record for most number of test wickets till 2000. He is also the only player in the history of cricket to have taken more than 400 wickets and scored more than 5,000 runs in Test match cricket. Because of his splendid contribution to the game, Kapil Dev was inducted in ICC’s Cricket Hall of fame in 2010.