5 of Australia’s greatest captains



The job of a captain in cricket differs greatly from that of other sports. Unlike football and other major sports, where the coach designs the strategy and the captain is only a presence on the field to supervise things, the captain in cricket is in charge of crucial choices.

The captain makes all of the decisions on the field, including team selection, batting order, fielding placements, and bowling changes.

Great leaders make great teams, and some of them have been truly inspirational. Australia is one squad that has had outstanding leadership. Australia has always had exceptional captains who have led from the front, from Dave Gregory (Australia’s first ever captain) to Bill Lawry (Australia’s first ODI captain), Allan Border, Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, and now Steve Smith.

Here are five of the very best.

1. Ricky Ponting

Ricky Ponting, who made his ODI debut in 1995, became Australia’s ODI captain in 2002 and led the team to three World Cup victories and a 34-match winning streak, 26 of which he led. He was one of his generation’s most uncompromising players.

Ponting is regarded as one of cricket’s most successful captains. He guided Australia to 48 Test victories (second only to Graeme Smith’s 53) and 165 One-Day International victories (highest ever in cricket history). He captained Australia in 324 international games, a record that was only broken by MS Dhoni.

2 Steve Waugh

Following Mark Taylor’s retirement in 1997, Steve Waugh was named ODI captain before taking command in both formats in 1999. He unleashed the Australian juggernaut, which annihilated every nation on the earth save India (where he had a poor record). Australia won 16 consecutive Test matches under his captaincy, including a whitewash of the West Indies (the streak ended in the historic 2001 Kolkata Test).

Both in Tests and one-dayers, he has a stellar record as captain. Waugh has 41 Test wins (out of 57 games) and 67 ODI wins (out of 106 games) as captain, making him one of Australia’s best captains.

3 Allan Border

Allan Border understood what he was getting himself into when he took the captain’s hat from a sobbing Kim Hughes. He was frank about his reservations, but he was mature enough to take the duties.

Border went 15 games without winning a Test match. However, by the time he was done, he had captained Australia in 93 Tests and 178 One-Day Internationals, winning 32 Tests and 107 ODIs. In 1987, he guided Australia to their first World Cup victory, defeating England by 7 runs in the final despite being in the lead for the whole of the game.

4. Michael Clarke

He was an inspiring leader who orchestrated some of Australia’s most historic victories. After taking over as captain, his hitting improved by leaps and bounds. He became the only player to score four Test double hundreds in 2012.

He scored 28 Test hundreds in total, one less than Sir Don Bradman, and half of them came while captaining the team.

Clarke took over as captain when Australia was in deep sorrow after losing the Ashes at home in 2010-11. In 2013/14, he was in charge as they won the Ashes with a 5-0 whitewash. He also became the fourth Australian captain to win a 50-over World Cup after inspiring Australia to victory in 2015.

5. Mark Taylor

Two people are responsible for Australia’s rise to global dominance. Allan Border is one, while Mark Taylor is the other. Taylor stepped into Border’s shoes well when he took over as coach, ensuring Australia became a vicious team that steam-rolled practically every opponent.

Taylor’s approach to leadership was straightforward: let the players play however they wished. His permission to Michael Slater, one of the most underappreciated batters of his period, is a classic example. Slater’s aggressive approach proved pivotal in several bouts after Taylor gave him confidence. In fact, Taylor was responsible for nine of Slater’s Test hundreds.