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The Great Captains

listento_me

U19 Captain
I've been working on this series for a while now, probably a year and I have finally put together a list the five greatest cricketing captains in the history of this sport. I have tried to be as objective as possible and considering the limit of only five names, the true upper echelon of the game, there are many names that will be excluded. This list is not to say that the likes of Ponting, Richards, Dhoni, Tayor, Miandad, Fleming and co were not great captains. It is essentially an exercise in sorting the wheat...from the other wheat.

The criteria used looks into how successful said captain, how they defined their team and team culture, their influence and ultimately their legacy, i.e. did they leave their national cricket team in a better position than they found it.

We start off with number 5:

Douglas Jardine

Douglas_Jardine.jpg

“To me and every member of the 1932-33 MCC side in Australia, Douglas Jardine was the greatest captain England ever had. A great fighter, a grand friend and an unforgiving enemy.”
W.E. Bowes​

The last three words, from the above tribute by Bowes, a terrific first class cricketer in his own right, describe Jardine and his captaincy to a tee. Body line is what Jardine is defined by and his tour to Australia in 1932-33 is quite possibly the most iconic Ashes tour in history. Over a period of four months, Jardine showed he was more than just a regular captain; he was an “unforgiving enemy”.

However, before we get to Australia it is important to consider Jardine’s first series as captain. Against a mediocre yet challenging New Zealand side, Jardine went about instilling a hard, gritty mentality into his batsmen. They would score runs and they would get them ugly if need be. The English were not a team of flashy cavaliers; they were a team of technically astute batsmen. Jardine was one such man. His team would be built in his image, long before he utilised pace and fire.

After beating the Kiwis, Jardine would turn his attention to India and with the help of Voce (who would become key against Australia) he would rout the Indian batsmen for less than two hundred in both innings. Larwood was absent but once he joined Voce down under, all hell would break loose but these series of matches were already helping Jardine formulate his famous plan.

Once in Australia, Sydney to be exact, Jardine would turn the screw. Voce and of course Larwood, would become his weapons of choice. What follows is history and a 4-1 drubbing of a genuinely good, genuinely adept Australian side. The fall out would change cricket, new restrictions on the bouncer and catchers would follow and the game would be forever changed but it was Jardine who was unforgiving enough to do whatever it took to win the series. The one that always mattered most. He would follow it up with two successes against India. By then, he had solidified himself as one of the most important captains in the history of the game and certainly England’s fiercest tactical operator.

It would not be inaccurate to say that the employment of fast bowling by Jardine would influence generations of West Indian and Australian fast bowlers. Like any great, Jardine was an innovator and as a captain could be a shrewd skillful leader of men. Unlike any other captain on this list, his single tactical decision decided the fate of an entire series.

Captained 15 tests
Won 9
Lost 1
Draw 5​
 

Burgey

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Plainly number one will be Allan Border. If it isn't you're kidding yourself and should go home now.
 
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Gnske

Hall of Fame Member
How is Jardine not no.1? Loved his body of work and the body count especially.
 

Burgey

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It'll be hilarious when Ganguly, Imran or Kapil Dev get named number one in this thread. I mean, Dev flukes a WC in a sea of mediocrity, Imran supposedly made Pakistan a force but really they were the best side inthe world for three weeks of his five plus year reign, and that only in ODIs, and Ganguly was King of Spuds. Wouldn't have held a spot in a decent side for more than four months.

Still, let's indulge it.
 

Burgey

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Lloyd, Worrell, G Smith. All good candidates. Kohli already > any subcontinent contender except Misbah who is massively in the discussion IMO
 

indiaholic

International Captain
Is winning a long series of games the best way to decide who is 'better'? Isn't that mostly a function of the quality of players you have? Imo it should be the more nebulous things like tactical nous and man management skills which are very difficult to judge watching on television.
 

Burgey

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Is winning a long series of games the best way to decide who is 'better'? Isn't that mostly a function of the quality of players you have? Imo it should be the more nebulous things like tactical nous and man management skills which are very difficult to judge watching on television.
I agree, but they're going to be so individual that it's nigh impossible to choose between a lot of excellent skippers.
 

Burgey

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I could but I'm hammered . And in any event it's all about TOTAB. Look up his record and how he rebuilt that side. How many tests as skipper, how the team got better and better under him. Legend.
 

Bijed

International Regular
Regardless of whether Jardine should be No. 5, No. 1 or whatever, I again enjoyed reading this. Good work
 
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Spikey

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Remember when Jardine got voted into cricketwebs top 100 players or whatever list
 

listento_me

U19 Captain
Is winning a long series of games the best way to decide who is 'better'? Isn't that mostly a function of the quality of players you have? Imo it should be the more nebulous things like tactical nous and man management skills which are very difficult to judge watching on television.
You obviously haven't looked at my criteria. It would help to read the opening post :)

He's referring to bodyline and the fact Woodfull and Oldfield in particular got nailed. Fmd man, come on
body count is body line now? And if you actually read my piece a large part of it is about bodyline.

Then again, I shouldn't be surprised that a Border fan can't read :laugh:

A glorious day.
It continues to get better lol
 

Adders

Cricketer Of The Year
Is winning a long series of games the best way to decide who is 'better'? Isn't that mostly a function of the quality of players you have? Imo it should be the more nebulous things like tactical nous and man management skills which are very difficult to judge watching on television.
Absolutely. Pretty sure Ponting is the most successful captain ever in terms of stats, yet he would (or should) be absolutely nowhere near this list.......not even in the discussion IMO.

I like that Jardine is in, for me I think I'd be going Clive Lloyd, Allan Border, Mike Brearly and possibly Stephen Fleming (I actually did not see too much of him though so not sure if his captaincy really was as good as his rep)

Admitted bias to modern era with the exception of Douglas.
 

fredfertang

Cricket Web: All-Time Legend
For me Jardine is the greatest by a distance - what I admire him for above all else is his determination to succeed and his refusal to bow to his detractors in any way - the loyalty he inspired amongst his team is remarkable, particularly those with whom he had very little in common.

I don't think it can be said he was necessarily the best though - there was only really the Bodyline series when he was tested, and while it was a tremendous achievement to win back the Ashes after what happened in 1930 he did have an outstanding team

Not sure who I think is the best, but one bloke who seldom gets a mention but who most certainly should is Arjuna Ranatunga
 

Burgey

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Yeah Arjuna oversaw SL becoming a serious contender on the world stage, then a WC win. Belongs in the discussion for sure.

I would think Frank Worrall belongs in the discussion too, but we wait and see. It's an interesting discussion because there's a lot of intangibles, and what someone hunks is most important in a skipper wont be as high on the list for others.
 
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