'Captains are many, but leaders few'


  • Published 14.02.15

Adelaide: Kapil Dev, the first captain from Asia to lift cricket's World Cup (1983), spoke to The Telegraph exclusively on captaincy.


Captaincy is...

All about getting the best out of every player. The captain must be committed to working towards that goal.

Captains who have stood out in World Cups...

Arjuna Ranatunga, Clive Lloyd, Imran Khan.

Thoughts on each of them...

In 1996, Ranatunga didn't have an unbeatable team, but he encouraged the players around him to be aggressive. Indeed, to win a World Cup, you need to be aggressive... Lloyd united players from different island nations, instilled pride in wearing the maroon cap. He won the first two World Cups (1975, 1979) and is still called 'Skip'. That's a huge compliment... Imran's case was different, for he had to deal with a very different set of individuals. If you captain Pakistan successfully, as he did in the 1992 World Cup, then there's no bigger cherry on the cake. That he earned so much respect says everything about the leader he was. Captains are many, but leaders few.

Difference between captains and leaders...

Leaders come across differently, are more bold in taking decisions. They're comfortable leading from the front.

Views on the captains, listed alphabetically, who're leading the top-eight teams in the World Cup...

MICHAEL CLARKE (Australia): I fear his fitness issue will be a distraction for Clarke. Returning to the actual World Cup after an injury is not going to be easy, no matter how pedigreed a player may be. He's sharp, so he should be able to read the situation very well. As captain, Clarke doesn't have to prove credentials, though.

MAHENDRA SINGH DHONI (India): Dhoni has an excellent record in ODIs and in T20Is. However, in the recent tri-series, his first assignment after retiring from Test cricket, I didn't see the same sharpness. He's a champion in the shorter formats, but I felt he let things drift, in the tri-series. He doesn't do that in ODIs and in T20Is. I wouldn't like to advise Dhoni, but I hope he realises just how big this World Cup will be. In 2011, he had mature players around him. This time, he's himself more mature.

MISBAH-UL HAQ (Pakistan): It's tough for a Pakistan captain to survive for long, but Misbah has managed that. He has a calming influence and has kept the team together. Some people have talked about Shahid Afridi being a better bet in ODIs, but he's temperamental. If he was the captain, who would control him? With Misbah at the helm, Afridi can be held in check.

JASON HOLDER (West Indies): I haven't seen much of him, so I can neither be critical nor praise him. Obviously, Holder will be under tremendous pressure.

ANGELO MATHEWS (Sri Lanka): It's tough captaining when there are vastly experienced players in the same dressing room. I'm referring to Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. Good, if they're supporting the captain, but if they're going to play more for themselves, then Mathews will have a tough World Cup.

BRENDON McCULLUM (New Zealand): McCullum is sensible and innovative. Plus, he's got a team which could win the World Cup. Any observer would be able to see that he's got the team to bond. That makes his job, as captain, easier. Watch out for McCullum and New Zealand.

EOIN MORGAN (England): Morgan has to be backed by his team. Till they find somebody else to captain, it must be assumed that he's the best available. Back him, then.

AB DE VILLIERS (South Africa): At times, AB gives the impression that he's a one-man army. He's such a dangerous player that he could do anything. He has a good team under him, but he shouldn't take too much pressure on his shoulders. If I was with Cricket South Africa, I would have had somebody else as captain, giving AB the freedom to cause havoc in a manner he knows well. I hope he doesn't choke on the captaincy on the biggest stage.

The one captain he'll be following with much more interest than the rest...


Finally, the best way for captains to handle pressure...

Accepting that pressure is there to stay. Captains must be ready to live with pressure. If you find it too hot, then get out of the seat.