Oh this one’s tough. Is it Chris Cowdrey, the Honourable Lionel Tennyson, or John Emburey? There have been so many fantastic skippers over the years – not to mention some best forgotten short lived experiments – that it’s almost impossible to choose. Thankfully however, we don’t cower in the face of impossibility here at TFT. If you want to know who the best England cricket captain of recent times was then you’ve come to the right place.
First of all let’s set out the scope of this debate. I didn’t start watching cricket until the mid to late 1980s. Therefore there’s no point in anyone bleating “but what about Gubby Allen?” in the comments below. I wasn’t even a glint in my grandfather’s eye back in the 1930s so I’m afraid I’m simply not qualified to judge. Therefore this ‘analysis’ will begin with David ‘Lubo’ Gower.
Personally I loved Lubo. However, for all his considerable talents – winding up Graham Gooch probably being the best of them – Gower was probably too laid back to be considered a great England cricket captain. He couldn’t half read a match, and generally kept his sense of humour throughout, but a great Ashes win at home aside, an overall record of won 5, lost 18, and drawn 9 doesn’t really cut the mustard.
Next up was Mike ‘chuck us a pie’ Gatting. When I first started watching cricket, Gatt’s skippering skills were apparently legendary. He’d led England to a famous 2-1 victory away from home in the 1986-87 Ashes – a feat that wasn’t repeated for another 24 years – and that seemed enough for some to consider him the second coming of Mike Brearley.
Sadly, however, what not a lot of people know is that those two wins down under were the only two Tests (out of 23) that Fat Gatt actually won. He finished with a curious record of won 2, lost 5, and drawn 16 (yes, sixteen). Perhaps his team couldn’t bat, couldn’t bowl, and couldn’t field after all. No wonder he got the hump with Pakistani umpire Shakoor Rana. He couldn’t buy a win.
Next up was John Emburey (played two, lost two), the legendary Chris Cowdrey (played one, lost one), and then Graham Gooch. The less said about the first two the better. England desperately needed a couple of punchbags to absorb the blows delivered by the rampant 1988 West Indians, and these two just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Things slowly started improving, however, when Graham ‘Zappa’ Gooch came on the scene. The moustached Goochie, which sounded to me like a rival fashion brand to Gucci, briefly managed to turn a sinking ship around. We beat Sri Lanka, we beat New Zealand, and we also beat India in between getting hammered by the Aussies away, and then hammered again by the Aussies at home. The latter defeat spelled the end for the ageing skipper with his iconic mo.
Gooch was a strange specimen as England cricket captain. The positives were that he restored some pride and he instilled some discipline. What’s more, he was outstanding as a batsman – he averaged a whopping 59 when ‘burdened’ by the captaincy. The problem, of course, is that he was about as flexible as a plaster cast. It was his way or the highway. And for some very talented cricketers, including my beloved Lubo, it ended up being the highway. Had he been more accommodating then he might have finished with a better record than won 10, lost 12, drawn 12.
Old Zap’s replacement was briefly Allan Lamb. He won nowt and lost three. This led to the temporary reign of Alec Stewart, who managed to add another two Tests to England’s runs of consecutive losses. At this point, however, the selectors decided to invest all their shares in a fresh faced Lancastrian called FEC Atherton. FEC, of course, were initials his county teammates attached to his dressing room peg – Future. England. Captain.
In 1993, at the age of just 25, FEC suddenly because CEC. He managed one-off wins against the Aussies and the Windies (England still lost the series though) before the current England captain eventually stamped his personality and authority on the side.
For a while it looked like things might be improving. Team Athers beat New Zealand, drew with South Africa, drew with the Windies, beat India but continued to lose to Australia (although there was the odd outstanding and unexpected performance like Edgbaston in 1997). We only lost that series 2-3 by the way.
Unfortunately, however, a problem called Ray Illingworth soon began to undermine Atherton’s regime. The Yorkie and the Lancy clashed like cat and dog – who’d have thunk it? – and it wasn’t long before Athers was sunk. There was also an incident with dirt in a pocket but we won’t go there.
Overall I think Atherton was a thoroughly decent England cricket captain. He was super bright, knew what he wanted, and he generally batted heroically. In fact, there were times when Athers seemed to be holding the side together singlehandedly. The main problem, of course, was that his team was generally pretty crap. Not even Lionel Tennyson could’ve got more out of that motley crew. His team managed 13 wins, 21 losses, and 20 draws.
Next up was Alec Stewart. Obviously opening the batting and keeping wicket wasn’t enough for this glutton for punishment. The masochist wanted the captaincy too. So how did he do? Not bad to be honest.
Like Athers, Sir Alec didn’t have the advantage of great players. However, he did have Darren Gough (when fit) and a certain Dean Headley (when fit). The result was that famous win at the MCG in 1998.
Although England lost that Ashes series 1-3 it could’ve been 2-2 had Simon Awful not been wearing canary yellow tinted glasses at the SCG. Michael Slater was clearly run out but third umpire Awful apparently decided not to look at the many camera angles that proved it. Instead he chose one single angle where the crease was obscured by a fielder; therefore he decided there was enough doubt to save the batsman’s bacon. Slater obviously went on to score a century – despite walking back towards the pavilion himself when he saw the replay on the big screen. His runs proved to be the difference between the sides.
Stewart was one of the better England captains of the inconsistent 1990s. He beat South Africa and the Windies at home, but lost to Sri Lanka and Pakistan away. Was he the best skipper we’ve ever had? No. But we do remember him fondly as an able leader? Of course. His won 4, lost 8, drawn 3 record wasn’t great but he was totally devoted to the cause.
When Sir Alec stepped down the next man up was Beaky Hussain. When Nasser’s team initially lost to New Zealand at home we literally reached rock bottom – we were dead last in the world rankings. However, Naz was a stubborn sod desperate to turn the team around. And somehow he managed to do so.
Nasser’s partnership with wily old Duncan Fletcher was arguably the best captain / coach combination we’ve ever had. They forged a disciplined team that showed tremendous fight and pulled off some of England’s most famous wins of the modern era – the double success in Sri Lanka and Pakistan will long live in the memory.
Yes there was the odd disaster – who can forget his decision to bowl first at Brisbane in 2002 and his fateful decision to call Graeme Smith ‘what’s his name’? – but England really started to compete during Nasser’s time in charge. They won 5 series in a row between 2000 to 2001, and I cannot stress this enough, Nasser was the first England cricket captain to finish with a winning record since Bob Willis in 1984. He won 17, lost 15, and drew 13. Quite tidy really.
Nasser’s exit brought about another successful era under Michael Vaughan. The series wins soon began to pile up, and they did so by huge margins too. ‘Virgil’ only lost two of his first ten series – single Test reverses against Sri Lanka and Pakistan away – but his team swept everyone else before them including, most famously, the 2005 Australians. The greatest Ashes series in history? Yes it probably was.
This period of success seemed unprecedented to a twenty-something supporter like me. I’d been brought up on 0-3 and 0-4 defeats not brilliant wins against the Aussies and South Africa. I could hardly believe it. Having been reduced to a cynical shell of a man – a man who’d grown used to metaphorical kicks in the nadgers every time he checked the cricket score – the psychological wounds slowly began to heal. Maybe life wasn’t so cruel after all?
Or was it? The 5-man attack that served Vaughan so well soon hit the treatment tables harder than a drunk hits a bottle of JD at the end of a bad night. Simon Jones got crocked. Flintoff too got crocked. Harmison lost his mojo. Hoggard was inexplicably axed. And even his spinner Ashley Giles managed to irrevocably damage his hip.
The batting also fell away. Trescothick’s mental demons finally got the better of him, Vaughan himself couldn’t quite recover from a bad knee injury, and Geraint Jones went from useful keeper-batsman to useless keeper-keeper. The 0-5 reverse in Australia summed up how bad things had got (although Vaughan was personally absent).
Having said that, although it all went pear shaped in the end, Vaughan’s team was (in my humble opinion) the best England side I’ve seen. They played positive cricket without trying (this was no artificial approach encouraged by the board) and Vaughan himself turned out to be a natural captain – an excellent leader whose positivity rubbed off on his players, and a fine tactician who seemed to make the right calls at the right time. Basically Vaughan was a very good England cricket captain indeed. He won 26, lost just 11, and drew 14.
After a brief experiment with Freddie, a pedalo, and an Ashes whitewash, and then another short-lived experiment with KP and a man called Moores, England finally turned to the bloke who should’ve got the job in the first place – a certain Sir Andrew Strauss esq. Another era of success ensured. Indeed, Strauss’s troops finally managed to top the world rankings before it inevitably fell apart again.
The Strauss / Flower axis was a goodun. They were two men of similar mind. They valued discipline, hard work, and unfortunately for Pietersen had an almost zealous preoccupation with that nebulous concept ‘team culture’.
This formula worked well for quite some time. We won the series we were expected to win efficiently. We narrowly won the Ashes back at home, and then beat Australia away for the first time since Gatting’s lot triumphed in 1986. The only disappointment was that Strauss never managed to beat the Cricket Boks.
Although Strauss’s time as England cricket captain finished with a series of underwhelming performances, including a horrible 0-3 loss in the UAE and a shocker against South Africa when the opposition amassed 637-2 at The Oval, Sir Andrew left with his head held high. He didn’t quite win as many games as the Thunderbirds puppet but a record of won 24, lost 11, drawn 15 was a record to be proud of.
It was no surprise when Strauss clone Alastair Cook succeeded one of his mentors. In fact, a partnership of Cook and Flower promised more continuity than a Darth Sidious’s clone army. The famous culture hardly missed a beat. The result was a historic triumph in India in 2012-13 in which Cook batted absolutely superbly.
There was just one problem, however. Cook ultimately couldn’t lead like Strauss. And by the time his team arrived in Australia to defend the Ashes in 2013, change not continuity was required.
Our second Ashes whitewash down under in 2013 shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Thankfully for Cook, however, the ECB decided to make Pietersen the scapegoat and also moved Flower into a lower profile role. I can’t remember the exact reasons why Alastair himself survived but I recall the words ‘right sort of family’ ringing in everyone’s ears.
When Flower departed the ECB replaced him with that useless Moores chap again. Why? Because Paul Downton had less of a clue than the average contestant on Give Us A Clue. Cook was pretty much doomed from this point. Yes England were still good enough to beat the weaker teams but the real challenges proved far too tough.
Although he could ‘lead from the front’ i.e. not actually say anything useful and simply score runs (well, at least he scored runs when he wasn’t going through one of his lengthy slumps) Cook proved to be a likeable but ultimately ineffectual England cricket captain. There were morale boosting wins against Australia at home in 2015, South Africa in 2015-16, and India in 2014, but there was always the feeling that England were flattering to deceive against other sides in transition.
There were also some terrible defeats. The 0-1 home reverse against Sri Lanka felt a bit like the defeat to New Zealand at the start of Nasser’s tenure, and a disastrous 0-4 thrashing in India in 2016-17 finished Chef off.
Because Cook had more media supporters than any skipper I can remember, some pundits pretended he was England’s greatest ever captain because he led the team for a record 59 games. This is obviously nonsense though. His overall record was mixed – 24 wins, 22 losses, and 13 draws. It wasn’t bad, don’t get me wrong, but after the successful Vaughan and Strauss years it very much felt like a regression.
The problem for Alastair was that he inherited a team somewhat in decline. Meanwhile, the so called ECB ‘player pathway’ (yuk!) couldn’t find adequate replacements for the like of Bell, Pietersen, Trott, and Swann. However, what Chef did have was Anderson, Broad, Root and himself – that’s not a bad quartet to build a team around.
Consequently Cook underwhelmed as a leader. He often seemed to skipper the side by numbers and he never had the tactical flair of a Vaughan or even the ability to galvanise players like Hussain.
So there are your runners and riders ladies and gents. Who was the best England cricket captain? We could have a conversation about Joe Root too but his chapter in England’s history isn’t yet complete. And, to be honest, it doesn’t exactly promise a happy ending as yet.
Overall we’re basically left with a shootout between Hussain, Vaughan, and Strauss. Which one wins the TFT prize? My personal feeling is that we should eliminate Strauss first. Why? Because despite being a man of intelligence and integrity he never showed the flexibility or creativity of Vaughan or even Hussain.
Strauss’s success was essentially built on attrition. England bowled dry to take wickets. There was no real tactical invention. Yes England were very good under Strauss, but they were sometimes difficult to love. They were like a machine and ultimately lacked a bit of charisma as a unit. They were also unable to adapt when the overall methodology started to go south – the whitewash in the UAE being the prime example. They could only play one way.
But what about Hussain and Hussain’s England? Was Nasser better than Vaughan? He did take a failing team with a shortage of talent and turn them into a respectable unit after all. Indeed, one could argue that Virgil’s success would’ve been impossible without the foundation that Hussain built.
There’s just one factor that gives the edge to the adopted Yorkshireman though – his personality. Nasser was very intense. Some would say too intense. He also doubted himself at times and could be incredibly stubborn. Naz was exactly what England needed at that time, of course, but I doubt he’d have captained a more talented team as well. Indeed, he might even have been as divisive as Gooch had his star player been someone like Gower – or even, dare I say it, Pietersen.
Vaughan, on the other hand, got the best out of everyone he captained. Whilst Hussain insisted stubbornly on making Giles bowl outside Tendulkar’s leg stump, Vaughan always seemed to have a more eye-catching plan up his sleeve. He also filled everyone with confidence with his relaxed but confident demeanour.
Duncan Fletcher once said of Vaughan “he is quite outgoing and laid-back, but there is a toughness in him, which any good captain needs. He is pro-active and, while he has had good bowlers, he has managed them well.” This tells me that he was a better England cricket captain than Hussain. If Hussain’s best attribute was toughness, then this is a clearly a quality that Vaughan had in spades too.
The problem for Nasser is that this doesn’t apply in reverse. Did Nasser share Vaughan’s best attributes too? Sadly not. Nasser was an excellent leader and talisman but he didn’t have Vaughan’s infectious positivity, tactical acumen, nor his innate ability to make a shrewd move at exactly the right time.
But that’s just my view. What’s yours? And I’m not taking Gubby Allen for an answer.
Not sure you have the correct acronym for the graffiti on Atherton’s locker. Rumour has it the E stood for “educated”…. I’m more inclined to go for this version, I’m not sure dressing rooms are known for erudite thoughts..
Totally agree. Being a bit older, I definitely feel that Vaughan and Brearley were the best two captains I have seen.
I go back a bit further than you, and would mention Ray Illingworth and Mike Brearley – both interesting as they deserved their places as captains rather than as players.
Vaughan would be my pick of recent ones, though for his sheer tactical grasp and innovation, it’s a pity that Morgan never had a go.
Illingworth’s record as a player isn’t too shabby.
Another great blog. I agree with Vaughan as the best England captain of the modern era but hope that Joe Root might develop to reach those heights.
If we are talking ability to devise winning tactics coupled with ruthlessness, then clearly D R Jardine …
In terms of authority amongst peers WG comes first, except he’d filch all the gate money and sponsorship cash.
I nominate Nas for being the most significant captain post war because he was the one who stopped what was frankly a losing culture. He never beat Australia but then he didn’t have four pacemen who complimented each other very well along with an explosive newcoming batsman who had zero fear of the Ockers. He might have struggled to gel with late career Pietersen, but on the other hand given Nas’s commitment to win I suspect he’d have kept him in the side.
Stewart left out Caddick in 1998, Gooch ended Gower’s career and Strauss couldn’t cope with KP so they all fall from consideration: any decent captain should be able to accommodate the maverick genius. Brearley, for example, dealt with a young Botham much better. (Special nod in the ‘handling difficult players goes to Boycott – whose team despised him to the point where ITB was sent in to run the crashing bore out, thus proving that the one player Boycott couldn’t manage was himself).
The principal mark against Vaughan is that his batting was never the same once he became captain – he had been phenomenal right up to the point where he became captain.
Athers presided over a pretty lame period in England’s history when they couldn’t overcome a fading Windies side and got mullered by Australia. He was an intelligent sort but was an idiot over the dirt in pocket incident. (Hell we can all make fools of ourselves, but how much the English supporters must have wanted to remove that buffoon …).
It makes for an interesting question for choosing the England XI of my time (post 1982), since neither Vaughan (as captain as opposed to 2002 vintage) nor Nas would be selected on merit as a batsman. (Gooch/Trescothick/Gower/KP/Root/ITB/Flintoff/Prior/Swann/Willis/Anderson). Brearley wasn’t either, I suppose, so it depends on whether you take the Australian approach of picking a side and then making someone captain, or choosing a captain and then the rest of the team. Viv Richards never lost a series as captain but was one of the least inspiring I saw, he just turned up and expected his bowlers to do the rest (which they invariably did) while he made the odd surley gesture to the opposition.
I started watching test cricket when Hutton was skipper but began to really understand the job from the May/Cowdrey days. As you said “ever seen” it is Brearley by far for me.
My Top 10
8. Cowdrey (Colin)
I think Vaughan shades it over the others. The culmination of his triumphs, the 2005 Ashes, did it is true need some assistance from Lady Luck – a certain Mr McGrath was crocked for both of the games that England won in that series, but it also showed real character from both captain and players to rebound from the disastrous first match at Lord’s. A key moment in that series was at the close of the Old Trafford game, when Australia celebrated escaping with a draw.
McGrath did miss both the losses – and was a crucial omission in the 2nd test – but then again he did play the 3rd test, which is the only one Australia never had a chance of winning.
Vaughan has to be in the top two or three for the Ashes win in 2005 – though he was fortunate to have at his disposal our the best pace attack in a generation. That team’s disintegration doesn’t count against him as he also missed much of that period with injury.
Strauss deserves much credit for an away Ashes series win, though Cook’s victory in India arguably ranks even higher than that.
But my vote goes to Nasser, given that he inherited the captaincy when we were at rock bottom and gave us back our respectability. I agree with you that, had Nass not done all that hard work, Vaughan wouldn’t have been able to take the team to greater heights.
By the way, you’ve mistakenly given Stewart credit for being the Windies at home – it was actually Nass in 2000 who finally managed to captain an England to a series win against them.
Considering captains who’ve led in more than 10 Tests since Gower, here’s my list:
I go back to 1975 so would nominate Tony Greig who invented “horses for courses” (David Steele picked against Lillee/Holding then dropped for the tour of India and the opposite for Amiss and Fletcher) long before it was even a glint in Ed Smith’s eye. He also invented ‘assisted’ swing before jellybeans and got up the Establishment’s nose which is probably more important than anything. Brearley on the other hand was massively overrated and went AWOL when any tough opposition was on the horizon.
BTW, some of the media are mentioning that they were told categorically that the SL tour was about to be called off.
Oh, and it has been….
I was fortunate enough to be able to spend some time with members of the England Test side in the immediate post-Brearley era. When discussing the best captain they had played under, to my surprise, they mostly opted for Greig. He was no on field tactical genius but he was a great man manager. One who had toured with him said that if he and one of the ‘stars’ was invited to anything – a restaurant visit for example – Greig accepted whenever he could but stipulated that the entire squad should attend. It made for a very cohesive touring party.
Brearley by a mile. Brilliant tactician and great insight to getting the best from his team, especially Botham and Willis. But I agree with James that out of his excellent piece above, Vaughan followed closely by Hussain. Both these men won fantastic series against Australia and the Windies.
Brearley – no doubt, for the reasons Doug gives.
Don’t think there’s any doubt Brearley was the best man manager, but was he the beat tactician. That is more debatable. Illingworth was the most astute I can remember. As the first who made any impact on me as ‘the man in charge’ he I said still clear in my memory. You always felt whatever he did as captain in the field was thought out and not reactive. His only acknowledged major flaw was not bowling himself enough and he was a better off spinner than anything we have at present.
To me the most effective captain short term was Hussein. I seem to remember if we had a bad day under him you could almost guarantee the next day would see a positive reaction. I can’t think of another captain in the modern era who hated under performing as much. Vaughan was pretty good in those circumstances too and he certainly had a similar presence about him. Of the rest Gatting always seemed a pretty sound all rounder and had the problem of being captain over a number of very strong personalities in the ’80’s. Strauss, although he didn’t have that problem always seemed the behave like the man in charge. The rest I see as pretty ordinary make weights who didn’t have that presence.
You need a strong personality and a decent level of natural intelligence, a thinker not a reactor.
The other thing I forgot to mention was the common factor betweenness the above, that of being experienced county captains. That has to be a major influence on all aspects of the job.
A good summary that seems to mirror my list, above! I agree re Brearley but excluded him to be consistent with the article (the ’81 Ashes was the first series I saw, incidentally). Illingworth was before my time but by all accounts was an exceptional captain. Someone who often gets forgotten is Bob Willis, who wasn’t a bad captain at all – better than Gooch and Gower in my view. I thought Vaughan was an exceptional man-manager, which is why I’ve always felt post-retirement that he should have a role in the England dressing room rather than largely wasting his talents spouting claptrap in the media.
Warwickshire won the 1981 John Player league with Willis as captain and very few other quality players. He seemed to be able to get the best out of his less talented colleagues on a consistent basis, everyone making useful regular contributions and Willis playing, despite his test calls, in almost all 16 matches, bowling his 8 overs off a short run. Having faced him off a short run in the nets myself I can vouch for his pace doing this.
That must have been “fun”. I faced Cameron White bowling medium pace leg cutters when he was a teenager playing in the Somerset League and that was too fast for me! Played and missed 3 times before he put me out of my misery with a straight one. At Uni in the early 90s I faced a guy in the nets called Nick Preston who never quite made it for Kent. He was as wild as hell but genuinely quick – over 85 – and I was so scared I quit after 2 balls. No helmet for teenagers in those days of course!
‘Fun’ can only be used in retrospect. A mix of awe and blind panic would better describe it at the time. When I went to bat in that net I didn’t know Willis was even on the ground let alone in the nets. No one asked me if it was OK for him to bowl at me, he just took his turn with the rest.
All I remember was saying to myself ‘get in line and look like you know what you’re doing’. Fortunately he pitched the ball up each time, so it wasn’t really dangerous. He didn’t bowl me and after a few deliveries I started to adjust to the extra pace and even remember middling a couple of drives. Even now it’s still all rather a blur.
I agree both with your analysis and your conclusion. In that period I would definitely go for Vaughan, although things might have been different had Atherton had at his disposal some the players – especially that attack – that Vaughan had. So many of Vaughan’s less than obvious on field selections – bowling changes and field placings – came off, that it couldn’t just have been luck, and he was the best motivator since Greig. He also had his fair share of big personalities to handle which he managed with aplomb – a measure of that achievement was what happened after him !
The great thing about that Nasser and Fletcher combination was that they took England from being anybody’s rabbits, to a side that was first of all difficult to beat, and then one which got used to winning.
If you are going to go further back, don’t, unlike the selectors, ignore Brian Close !
Mention of Brian Close takes me back to the very first school 1st XI game I played. The school hadn’t won a game of cricket for about 5 years. We had them 9 down, way off the required runs, but little time left. I was bowling – everyone else around the bat. Their last man hit a lofted drive which hit our captain at silly mid-off on the forehead and rebounded to slip, where it was caught. The captain ran around the field, blood pouring down his face, shouting “We won!”
I can’t remember who it was who coined that line that you could tell the cricket season had started when you heard the sound of leather on Brian Close ! He was a hard man in all senses. He even managed to control Botham when he was at Somerset !
Eric Morecambe in “The Thoughts of Trueman Now”, a book written by Trueman with Morecambe and Wise.
Great book that. Still have it from over 40 years ago.
Remember Fred fronting a pub tournament on TV called the ‘Indoor League’, replete with pipe and pint every episode as contestants battled away at skittles, darts, pool, table footie and shove halfpenny against the background of Fred’s portentous commentary. It was great. Wheeltappers and shunters for sports fans.
Great story about Close when he was fielding typically close at short leg in a county game and the batsman hit him on the head (no helmets then) with a cut and before he hit the ground all the crowd could hear was his appeal to ‘catch it!’ as it ballooned up in the air.
Another iconic Close moment was when he and Edrich, both 40+ were recalled by England to open the innings and try to blunt the Windies pace attack. I’m a huge fan of Clive Lloyd but he did himself no favours as captain that evening by letting Holding and co loose to bowl almost bodyline at them. They survived somehow for that session, Close chesting deliveries away with no body armour and staggering about in the crease as he was repeatedly hit. I do t think anyone who saw that passage of play will ever forget the unmatched naked courage of the man.
Gubby Allen; Only 11 tests as captain and lost more than he won. Can’t believe you chose him as England’s best ever captain best captain, you must have been to school with his Dad.
On the more recent captains, I always admired Hussain. Took over at a low point, always had an eye to the future which perhaps contributed to Vaughan being his successor. Others such as Vaughan himself and Strauss had some good times but both jumped ship with the team in a mess.
Second Ashes whitewash in the period under discussion – third overall. Hard to go past Vaughan in that period
The other thing that you need to be successful as a captain are the bowlers to bowl to the set fields and the fielders to take the catches. Illingworth, Brearley, Gatting and Vaughan certainly had this. You can’t do much about the batting as a captain, but your tactics, however astute, fall by the wayside if you don’t have the players with the necessary skills to implement them.
Several replies referring to Brian Close seem to have been deleted. Why is that?
Comments temporarily disappear if someone reports them. This is because I don’t have time to moderate everything and I need a mechanism to stop TFT getting into hot water. I’ve had calls from players’ lawyers before about things people have said in the comments!
If a comment gets flagged / reported then I know to moderate it. Couldn’t see a problem with the Brian Close ones so I assume someone pressed ‘report’ by mistake. It happens quite a lot. I’ve now reinstated them.
Has to be Hussain in your timescale. Vaughan inherited a side with several world class players entering their best period. Hussain made do with dross and players starting their test careers who would go on to be good. And Vaughan even managed to screw up some of the talent he had (such as Bell).
I agree with others that Brearley must stand apart from the earlier period. Like James I enjoyed Gower. But even Gower looked intense compared with Mike Smith (who was known to thrust a toddler into teammates arms before going out to bat in a test). But the great captain that never was must be Dermot Reeve. What he did at Warwickshire had to be seen to be believed. He may have been a loose cannon but I have never seen a captain better at getting the best out of his players.
I would choose Hussain. As he was captain when the culture changed and we became much harder to beat. Players make captains though!
Also an honourable mention for the unheralded Cook – he won in India with some unusual tactics eg. opening bowling with Monty. Again players make captains though as KP, Cook, Swann and Monty were very good.
Sky whore gets a platform in The Cricketer to start the softening-up process:
“Rob Key: The Hundred could be prioritised if coronavirus disrupts domestic cricket season”.
It’s hard to see how other competitions could be further marginalised given how pushed to the margins they alreay are (unless he means holding the CC in November or a 50 over tournament in February) so this must mean they’ll be scrapped. The article makes it very clear that Key is all in favour of the 16.66 comeing first (“There’s been so much excitement around The Hundred anyway, you just want to make sure it has a fair crack”. So much excitement = millions spent on laughable hype while other competitions get zero advertising).
As for the news WI and the USA are making a joint bid for the T20 WC, I thought the ICC were against joint bids? At least they were when it came to India sharing a tournament with SL or Australia with NZ (without ever giving any good reason that I could ever find). It’s all about greed and cracking the US TV market again. It’s also not the only sign WI have been completely taken over bu outside interests with money – at least two coaches have been forced on their T20 franchise by Indian owners. WI cricket is a shell masking global corporate interests, like Starbucks trying to pose as your high street coffee shop.