Ask The Spider #127

In view of Zulqarnain Haider’s recent tribulations, I wondered – how many people have kept wicket for Pakistan in Tests?

There have been 21 so far (the lattermost of whom is still in the process of his Test debut as of this column) – of which 6 have had substantial careers. The first man to keep for Pakistan in Tests was Hanif Mohammed, who went on to become their first great batsman, and arguably remains so even today. The first substantial career as Pakistan wicketkeeper came from Imtiaz Ahmed, a fine all-round cricketer who was also a very capable batsman. Next came Wasim Bari, a batsman of no note but almost universally regarded as the finest gloveman yet produced by Pakistan and still their most-capped wicketkeeper. Saleem Yousuf was next, then Moin Khan and Rashid Latif traded gloves for over a decade. Kamran Akmal, despite his regular capacity for mishaps, has now kept in 53 Tests and appears likely to keep in many more. Remarkably, of the last six wicketkeepers to debut, five have so far kept in a single Test only – Atiq-uz-Zaman in 1999/2000, Humayun Farhat in 2000/01, Sarfaraz Ahmed in 2009/10, Zulqarnain in 2010, and now Adnan Akmal, Kamran’s brother, in the current ongoing Test against South Africa. All of the latter four may, of course, yet add to their tallies, but the question was posed at a remarkably prescient time.

Are Colin and Chris Cowdrey the only father and son to captain England?

Not quite – there is one other such combination. In 1922/23, with England touring South Africa, the captaincy was given to Frank Mann, who led for that series only before Arthur Gilligan took over at home in 1924. And in 1948/49, England again toured South Africa and captain Norman Yardley (who as mentioned last week was an amateur and thus not able to make all tours) had business commitments which prevented him from leading the visit. The man chosen in place of him was Frank Mann’s son George, who like his father led for the full five-match series but never took the armband again.

How many times have England selectors changed the Test captaincy mid-season (either entirely off their own back or because the incumbent has stepped down), in a home summer?

A very interesting question – and one to which more than one answer can possibly be given. The most recent, of course, was the summer of 2008 where Michael Vaughan stepped down for the summer’s final match leaving Kevin Pietersen to take-over (very briefly so it turned-out, of course). In 2003, Vaughan himself ascended to the leadership after the opening match of the summer’s series against South Africa. You have to go back a decade for the previous time – in 1993 Graham Gooch stepped down with The Ashes lost and two games of the summer remaining, allowing Michael Atherton to take-over. Gooch had taken the captaincy on a full-time basis in 1990, but he had of course dipped his toe in 1988 when he was the fourth man to lead that summer, after Mike Gatting, John Emburey and Chris Cowdrey (so three changes that summer). Gatting himself had taken over after the opening game of 1986 when David Gower was removed. In 1981, Mike Brearley was brought back as a stopgap arrangement for the remainder of the summer when Ian Botham stood down after two games (had he not all indications were that he would have been stood down). In 1975, Mike Denness (who as mentioned in the previous column dropped himself once in the away season of 1974/75 – a unique occurrence) stood down after the summer’s opening game and Tony Greig replaced him. From now back, it becomes less common. In 1966 (as again mentioned in the previous column), MJK Smith, Colin Cowdrey and Brian Close all lead the side – the former and latter having a single game to bookend the middle man. In 1950, Freddie Brown replaced Yardley after three of the summer’s four Tests. In 1926, Arthur Carr was appointed for the summer’s Ashes but after the opening four games were all drawn APF (Percy) Chapman was preferred for the final one, led his side to victory and thus begun a captaincy era of his own. In 1921, Johnny Douglas, who had been England’s captain since 1911/12, spanning the First World War, was removed from the post after the opening two games of the disastrous Ashes that summer, Lionel Tennyson taking-over for the last three. WG Grace, aged 50, played the opener of the 1899 Ashes but, after it became plain that he was no longer in a fit state for Test cricket, he was replaced by Archie MacLaren. There are two previous instances of England being captained by different men during a home summer (on the basis of the man of choice being changed rather than the first-choice being absent and a stand-in appearing), but they date from 1888 and 1884. In the former, Allan Steel gave way to WG Grace, who held the captaincy when available until that 1899 closure. In the latter, Lord Harris replaced AN Hornby, who had also led in his absence in the famous 1882 Test after Harris was England’s first true captain in the almost as famous 1880 Test. Before 1899, England teams were not chosen by selectors but invitations were issued by the host club, or a captain was asked to compose a side himself. So there are 13 concrete instances, plus a couple that may or may not fit depending on how you look at it.

Last week’s questions about England captaincy prompt me to ask – could you give a timeline of the England captaincy, including all of those who have held it on a permanent basis?

Yes – but kick back and prepare for a lengthy lecture! As mentioned above, the first man to lead a side which could truly be said to be fairly representative of the best England had to offer was the patriarch of the day, Lord Harris. Officially, England’s first captain was of course James Lilywhite Jnr. – but the matches were part of a private tour and have only been recognised as Test matches retrospectively, and Lilywhite was certainly not taking his side with any thought of them being the best England had on offer. Several similar cases date from a little later in the 19th-century – a few involving Australia and everything where South Africa were concerned. Lord Harris, as mentioned, led his side to victory in 1880 but missed the 1882 Test and the game was lost, disastrously, under the captaincy of AN Hornby. Ivo Bligh’s tour to Australia in 1882/83 had already been arranged before the 1882 Test was lost, but despite the fact that he was once more taking a side which could not be said to be representative of the best England could offer, the fact that the defeat in 1882 was seen as having to be avenged meant, for the first time, a side went on tour which could be said to be genuinely representing their country. Bligh’s team, hypothetically speaking, won The Ashes. Nonetheless, with Harris again unavailable for the opening game of the 1884 Australians’ visit (where The Ashes were said to be at stake once again), it was Hornby who was picked to lead. The Australians had the better of a draw, and Harris returned to lead his side to victory once again in the next match (and a draw in the final one), retaining The Ashes. By 1886, Harris was no longer in the picture and it was Allan Steel who led instead. He led for the duration of that summer, but as mentioned WG Grace took over and from mid-1888 to that 1899 opener led whenever available, a total of 13 Tests (AE Stoddart stood-in when he was not, in a total of 8 games; he himself missed 3 and MacLaren stood-in). MacLaren’s reign, which as mentioned last week was often interrupted by ill-health and business commitments (Pelham Warner, Stanley Jackson, RE “Tip” Foster and Arthur Jones [plus Fred Fane in his place] all held the captaincy during MacLaren’s time – in 1905, Jackson was picked as a matter of preference as MacLaren slipped back into the ranks), lasted in total from that second 1899 match to the end of the 1909 Ashes, a total of 19 Tests (he missed 18 in this time and played four of the five in 1905 as a rank player). His successor, Douglas, as mentioned above led mostly from 1911/12 to the start of 1921 (he was mostly unavailable for the triangular tournament in 1912, so CB Fry was chosen to captain instead), sacked midway through after which Tennyson took-over for the last three. Frank Mann led the 1922/23 tour, and Arthur Gilligan as mentioned was chosen in 1924 and 1924/25 – he played nine of the ten Tests, Douglas returning to lead once when he was absent. Carr led for the opening four of 1926, then Chapman was the man of choice between the last of that summer and the end of the 1930/31 South African tour (as many as 5 men led in his place due to his various absences). Chapman’s successor was one of the most famous men of them all, Douglas Jardine, who captained until the end of the 1933/34 winter. In 1934, English diplomacy over the infamous Bodyline series led them to turn instead to the man who had been vice-captain under Jardine and Chapman, Bob Wyatt. Wyatt led that summer, the 1934/35 winter and the 1935 summer. Gubby Allen, who again had been a part of the Bodyline series (in his case, he refused to bowl it), led in 1936 and the 1936/37 Ashes tour. Walter Hammond, who had been a professional, turned amateur so that he could captain England, and he would almost undoubtedly have led many more times than he did but for the Second World War. Hammond’s leadership lasted until the tail-end of the 1946/47 Ashes, where like Grace he was clearly no longer fit for Tests at the end, and though injury was officially given as the reason for handing over to Yardley it is likely that, like Denness, he actually dropped himself. Yardley led between that last Ashes Test and the aforementioned replacement by Brown at the end of 1950 (Allen, as mentioned last week, was recalled to stand-in for him in 1948 in the Caribbean and George Mann in 1948/49). Brown led until the end of 1951, and Nigel Howard was chosen in an interim capacity for the winter of 1951/52. By the summer of 1952, the selectors finally decided to take the plunge, and appoint a professional as captain. Leonard Hutton led with great distinction until he retired, exhausted, at the end of the famous 1954/55 Ashes. His successor, Peter May, was in many respects a return to the previous norm, and he too led with much success up to the end of the summer of 1961, though he had two separate spells (the latter lengthy) where Colin Cowdrey had to stand-in. May was succeeded by Ted Dexter, a batsman cut from a similar cloth, who led up to the end of the 1964 Ashes. Cowdrey too stood-in for him, though later on the vice-captaincy was given to MJK Smith (who had to take-on the captaincy once), and he was the next man to lead, between 1964/65 and the aforementioned opener of 1966. Cowdrey did the middle three, then Close the lattermost and the whole of the following 1967 summer, before Cowdrey again came back and led between the spring of 1968 and winter of 1968/69 (he missed one game, and Tom Graveney stood-in). Raymond Illingworth, one of England’s most successful and excellent captains, then led between 1969 and 1973 (he missed the 1972/73 winter with injury, Tony Lewis standing-in). Illingworth’s successor was Denness, perhaps against the better judgement of the selectors – many believed he was not a good enough batsman to be in the side, and the self-axing for one game in 1974/75 (John Edrich led in that match) was symptomatic of the troubles. Greig led between the second game of 1975 and his sacking at the start of 1977 after he betrayed the English game by signing for Kerry Packer and taking several others with him. Brearley, already 36 years old by that time, took-over and between 1977 and 1979/80 led with such distinction that he won plaudits over and above even Illingworth (he missed four games in 1977/78, Geoff Boycott standing-in). Again, the choice of Botham in 1980 has to be considered a questionable one, and it became untenable before long as his own form deteriorated. Brearley’s return for the latter part of 1981 was followed by another interim arrangement, the recall of Keith Fletcher as captain in 1981/82, before Bob Willis (who, with Allen, are the only specialist bowlers ever to be handed the England captaincy) was appointed, and led until the end of 1983/84. Before that winter was out he had been injured, and his vice-captain David Gower took-over initially temporarily, then permanently in the summer of 1984. Gower’s leadership, as mentioned, was terminated after the opener of 1986, and Gatting led until his stint, too, was terminated after the opener of 1988. Then came the chaos – two games for Emburey, one for Chris Cowdrey and a couple for Gooch. Gooch had been chosen to lead in 1988/89 in India, but the tour was cancelled because the Indian government refused to accept Gooch and several others who had made Rebel tours to South Africa. Consequently, Gower came back for a second spell in 1989, but that was even more unsuccessful than much of his first had been, and Gooch was appointed on a full-time basis for the Caribbean tour in the spring of 1990. He led with some success, and not without some merit, until he decided to stand down with a couple of games of the 1993 Ashes remaining. Atherton’s reign lasted until he, too, stood down, in his case at the end of the 1998 Caribbean tour. Alec Stewart led in the 1998 summer and 1998/99 winter, and had been scheduled to lead in 1999, but his leadership was terminated after the 1999 ODI World Cup. Consequently, Nasser Hussain led instead, and did so with great distinction until he, like Gooch before him, sensed a change of feeling and stood down after the 2003 series’ opener. Vaughan took over, and like Hussain led with great distinction before a very similar departure. Pietersen’s reign, of course, lasted a whole 3 games, before his falling-out with coach Peter Moores necessitated Andrew Strauss taking over. Strauss appears to have no little time left in him yet, and may reasonably hope that his reign, which begun in 2009, could at worst come close to the length of some of his immediate predecessors.

Leave a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they have been approved

More articles by Richard Dickinson