Why are batsmen preferred as captain ahead of bowlers?

Graeme Smith was one of the many batsmen who was made captain of their cricket team. He is the most successful test captain in test history.

Cricket: A batsman’s game

Cricket is a batsman’s game. Generally speaking, fans are much more allured and attracted to the charisma of a batsman rather than a bowler. Furthermore, this preference of batsmen over bowlers as personalities and consequently captain is not limited to just cricket fans.

Cricket selectors in the past have chosen to make batsmen captain ahead of both all-rounders and bowlers in the main. There are several reason for this choice, few of them are as follows:

Greater career potential:

Batsmen tend to have a longer career as compared to all-rounders or more precisely fast bowlers. There are few exceptions to this rule: For example, Imran Khan had a lengthy career, although he was a quick bowler himself. Wasim Akram played a large sample size of games as well. Nevertheless, as a general rule, batsmen tend to have a longer career which makes them a better choice overall.

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Injuries

Bowlers, especially fast, are more prone to injuries as compared to batsmen. Hence, regularly replacing the captain with the vice-captain of the team is likely to affect the overall performance of the side. Hence, batsmen are considered to be more stable prospects for a team. Furthermore, every now and then bowlers need rest. Whereas, a batsman does not need a break as frequently as a bowler.

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 25: Pakistan captain Imran Khan (c) celebrates with team mates as photographer David Munden (r) looks on after the 1992 Cricket World Cup Final victory against England at MCG on March 25, 1992 in Melbourne, England. (Photo Tony Feder/Allsport/Getty Images)

Duty

While fielding, a captain who is a batsman, only has one job to complete i.e to set the field for the bowlers. Whereas, a bowling captain has to perform the exhaustive duty of bowling, along with planning and setting a field for the bowlers. Additionally, in the heat of the moment, a bowling captain may over utilise themselves in a few cases. For example, Andrew Flintoff as a captain started bowling 30 overs a day as compared to 10 overs when he was playing solely as an all-rounder.

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List of test captains in the last 20 years

Below is the list of players who played in last 20 years in Test as a captain and featured in more than 25 matches:

These are some of the best captains in cricket.

Player Span Mat
Graeme Smith (ICC/SA) 2003-2009 71
Ricky Ponting (AUS) 2004-2009 65
SP Fleming (NZ) 2000-2006 56
MP Vaughan (ENG) 2003-2008 51
SC Ganguly (INDIA) 2000-2005 49
SR Waugh (AUS) 2000-2004 44
N Hussain (ENG) 2000-2003 39
ST Jayasuriya (SL) 2000-2002 32
Inzamam-ul-Haq (PAK) 2001-2007 31
BC Lara (WI) 2003-2006 29
DPMD Jayawardene (SL) 2006-2009 28
SM Pollock (SA) 2000-2003 26
R Dravid (INDIA) 2003-2007 25

 

In the list above, Shaun Pollock is the only player who features as a bowling all-rounder. The rest  are all batsmen. Even if one looks at more historic stats, the result is not much different.

Summary:

Cricket is a game of skills and tactics. The strategies are made by captains and coaches. Undoubtedly, there have been great bowler captains in history such as Kapil Dev, Wasim Akram, Heath Streak, Vettori, Imran Khan, Walsh, Kumble etc. However, if we look at the overall numbers then batsmen exceed bowlers as a captaincy choice by a large margin.

We hope you enjoyed our article on why batsmen are predominantly the captain of a cricket team.

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