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Crowe: If you’ll just sit back, you won’t go anywhere
- A TELEGRAPH SPECIAL
- FORMER NEW ZEALAND SKIPPER ON THE ART OF CAPTAINCY
Martin Crowe

Calcutta: Sixteen years after the 1992 World Cup, Martin Crowe is still saluted for getting offie Dipak Patel to open the bowling and for encouraging Mark Greatbatch to smash the bowlers in the early overs.

Clearly among the more cerebral to have led a national team, Martin (younger brother of another New Zealand captain, Jeff) is the Bangalore Royal Challengers’ chief cricket officer.

“I got a call from (captain) Rahul Dravid and decided to be a part of Twenty20 cricket in India, a form which is definitely here to stay… It’s exciting,” Martin remarked.

Now 45, Martin was a very accomplished bat as well and scored over 10,000 runs in Tests and ODIs. The other day, he spoke to The Telegraph exclusively on captaincy.

The following are excerpts

Qualities essential for good captaincy

First, you’ve got to lead from the front… Indeed, you’ve got to be outstanding in at least one area of skill… Then, you need to be a thinker and have the ability to articulate your thoughts and ideas… Also, man management is critical… I probably wasn’t the best at that but my strengths revolved around tactics and I had a good coach in Warren Lees, who looked after the boys very well.

His take on the current Test captains (alphabetically) of the major teams

CHRIS GAYLE (West Indies): Can’t say I’ve seen too much of him… However, he’s the type to try and lead from the front… I guess the captaincy will, at some stage, force him to structure his game a little bit better. That should help the West Indies.

MAHELA JAYAWARDENE (Sri Lanka): He’s a different type of captain and there’s a bit of rebuilding going on in Sri Lanka… (Muttiah) Muralidharan isn’t the same bowler after the last injury he suffered… Chaminda Vaas isn’t getting any younger… Jayawardene’s leadership, though, allows Sri Lanka to always pretty much be in contention (for honours). He gets runs too.

ANIL KUMBLE (India): I watched the recent India versus Australia series from a distance and Kumble was a stand-out captain… There was pressure, there were stresses and strains… There were controversies… Kumble, I thought, showed great integrity and dignity… As captain, he was a bit unlucky early on in that series but came through as a class act… I always find it interesting to watch a bowler-captain… That’s not the norm, but Kumble has been around for 18 years.

SHOAIB MALIK (Pakistan): Again, haven’t seen too much of him but I get the impression he’s a good all-round cricketer… Captains sometimes need to look at different ways to win but I’m not sure whether Malik is capable of doing that… Captains need to come up with things that will leave the opposition guessing… Malik may not quite be in the leading-from-the-front category.

RICKY PONTING (Australia): He has all the resources that any captain would want… Even after losing Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath (through retirement), he’s got the men — though not quite as good — to do the job… He got embroiled in controversies during the tour by India and that possibly affected his batting… Ricky learnt a lot from playing under Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh… Personally, I’d like him to soften not necessarily the competitive spirit but the aggressive in-the-face style of the Australians… They get carried away at times and it’s not a pretty sight.

GRAEME SMITH (South Africa): The job was thrust on him quite early (at 22), a bit like Stephen Fleming… He’s had to learn in the role… It’s an advantage that Graeme’s an outstanding opening batsman… He’s got a good team, one which respects him… The quota system, though, must always be preying on his mind… He’s probably come of age as captain and should prosper in the next couple of years.

MICHAEL VAUGHAN (England): Today, he’s probably a bit like what I was towards the end of my career… He’s struggling with his knees… His footwork isn’t exactly there… Having said that, Vaughan’s a very astute leader.

DANIEL VETTORI (New Zealand): Being a bowler, he has a lot on his plate… Vettori, of course, is a good all-round cricketer… I’d say he’s handled things pretty well but in a Test match environment, I can’t visualise him not having Fleming batting… Fleming’s retirement, I feel, will cost us in England… At this point in time, we’ve got the most inexperienced top five since the late 1930s… Vettori has good players around him in one-day cricket and he himself leads from the front… It’s going to be very different in Test cricket… We aren’t in the top pack in the rankings and don’t seem to be going anywhere in a hurry. We don’t have the resources and the pinch is going to be felt by Vettori… We’ve been getting exposed ever since John Bracewell became the coach.

Having different captains for Tests and ODIs

The Indian selectors, in particular, have made a smart move by appointing (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni as the one-day captain… This will allow him to grow into the full job step by step… Dhoni has charisma and has a manner… He’s learning from the Sachin Tendulkars… New Zealand Cricket should’ve done the same thing as India instead of rushing and giving Vettori everything all too soon. Fleming could’ve been the Test captain for a couple of years more. Definitely one year, if not a couple… (After a pause) England have Paul Collingwood in the ODIs… He’s a fighting cricketer, yes, but is tactically inept… Tactically, I haven’t seen a worse captain but he’ll try and make up for that by fighting performances.

The one captain he looked up to

Ian Chappell… He could mould the team, led from the front and was good tactically… I also read Mike Brearley’s Art of Captaincy and learnt from it… Besides, I picked up things from the captains I played under.

Captain who impressed him the most

Fleming… What stood out was his temperament and the ability to manage men… A good communicator too… He was a brilliant tactician for some years from 2000, till Bracewell became the coach… He was the one in charge on and off the field, till Bracewell came on the scene in late 2003 and completely swamped Fleming… He wasn’t the same captain after that… He came across as a resigned captain… Bracewell’s style is abrasive and he’s had such a negative influence… Somehow, he continues.

Finally, his message for rookie captains or those wanting to grow into leaders

(Grins) Make decisions, whether they’re right or wrong… Be decisive… Go with your hunch or gut feeling… If you make decisions, then the game will move forward at the right pace and you’ll be on track. If you’ll just sit back, you won’t go anywhere… Obviously, you should go with common sense… When I was the captain, I’d set out to make 15 bowling changes in a one-day International… That was part of my strategy and kept the batsmen on their toes… Didn’t allow the opposition any kind of momentum… I wish I had a (Sir Richard) Hadlee or a (Wasim) Akram, though.

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