How much influence does the captain have and how much of a difference do they make.
New Zealand in the 80s started with the very astute captain Geoff Howarth and then moved on to the likes of Jeff Crowe and Jeremy Coney
Geoff Howarth - 11 wins 7 loss 12 draws
Coney 5 4 and 6
Jeff Crowe 0 1 5
John Wright 3 3 8
From this you could argue that the most astute captain Howarth had the best record. But the sample sizes are small so you have to use caution. What I find more interesting is that the following three captains Coney Crowe and Wright had similar records with similar quality teams. But again small sample sizes.
By memory Hadlee played the same for all of these captains and didn't require much motivation. In fact he continued to perform when he wasn't even speaking to Coney. You can taste the disrepect Hadlee had for Coney in one of Hadlee's books.
I am not going to talk about the importance of tactics and plans - and field settings as I am sure that others will make these points.
I do think that a captain needs to contribute and needs to lead the team through his own performace. I think that Ricky Ponting can contribute more to his team through scoring a century than he can through clever tactics. The disclaimer to this is that he could hurt the team through appalling tactics and undo the impact of his century if he was inept with tactics.
Perhaps there is a difference between a very good captain and a regular captain. In Botham's book I am reading he speaks highly of Mike Brearly. Botham credits victories to the impact of him.
In terms of getting off the fence and having a position. I think that an astute captain can make a big difference. But I think most players have average captaincy skills and therefore whether you pick one player or another to be captain doesn't matter too much PROVIDED that player performs with the bat and ball themselves and PROVIDED that the new captain is indeed solid/average tactically. IE is not a boob.