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The 10 Greatest Test Captains

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Vijay Raman

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Jun 23, 2024

The 10 Greatest Test Captains

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Test cricket is the oldest format of the game, and despite the evolution of the sport, the traditionality of the format remains intact. The sport excels only because of the teams that play it and the players who partake.

And the role of a captain in Tests is enormous, as they need to be in the game for the entirety of five gruelling days. Their role goes beyond tactical decisions; it also extends to being able to lead from the front and inspire the team in all situations.

This article talks about the 10 Test captains who stood out from the pack because of their longevity, successes, and their own match-winning performances.

 

Graeme Smith (South Africa)

Test cricket’s most capped captain, Graeme Smith, is widely regarded as one of the best captains of all time in the longest format of the game. He led South Africa to dominant Test wins not just at home but also won bilateral series in England and Australia against the most potent sides in his period.

Made the skipper of South Africa when he just about turned 21, Smith led them in a whopping 109 Tests out of the total 117 times he represented his nation. The left-hander was quite prolific with the bat, as he scored 8659 runs at a stupendous average of 47.84 with 25 tons.

Graeme Smith’s Test Captaincy Record: Matches (109), Won (53), Lost (29), Draw (27)

 

Ricky Ponting (Australia)

The former Aussie legend, Ricky Ponting, had an astute mind in the field, and it reflected in the success he had as a skipper. Backed by a strong team, Ponting made them even more menacing, irrespective of the conditions in which they played. Under his captaincy, Australia achieved away series wins in South Africa and England, apart from being dominant at home.

Leading from the front, the batter scored 6542 runs, which is the third highest in the format, while captaining the side, and he amassed 20 Test tons in those 77 games. His batting average of 51.51 is also among the best in the world as a captain.

Ricky Ponting’s Test Captaincy Record: Matches (77), Won (48), Lost (16), Draw (13)

 

Steve Waugh (Australia)

If Ricky Ponting’s tenure as captain was great, then his predecessor Steve Waugh’s stint was legendary. In a captaincy stint that lasted 57 Tests, the elder of the Waugh brothers lost just nine, and this includes a record 16-match winning streak only equalled by Ponting’s team a few years later.

He led Australia to their first-ever Test series win in the West Indies in 1995, and under his tenure, Australians almost played like invincibles. Steve Waugh was also prolific with the bat and largely coming in the middle-order, the iconic batter amassed 3714 runs at an average of 52.23 with 15 centuries.

Steve Waugh’s Test Captaincy Record: Matches (57), Won (41), Lost (9), Draw (7)

 

Clive Lloyd (West Indies)

In an era that was dominated by the West Indies, Clive Lloyd had a major role to play in the team’s dominance, both as a leader and batter. Apart from being dominant at home, Lloyd inspired the Windies team to find success in countries like Australia, England, and India.

He is one of the seven batters to have scored over 5000 runs as Test skipper (5233) and he has an astounding average of 51.30 even after playing 111 innings while leading the team.

Clive Lloyd’s Test Captaincy Record: Matches (74), Won (36), Lost (12), Draw (26)

 

Allan Border (Australia)

The former Aussie great is the second-most-capped Test skipper in history, having led his team in a whopping 93 Test matches. The left-hander can be credited for creating the foundation of building a strong Australian team which would dominate in the decades to come after his retirement.

With 6623 runs at an average of just under 51, Border is the second-highest run-scorer as a Test match skipper.

Allan Border’s Test Captaincy Record: Matches (93), Won (32), Lost (22), Draw (28)

 

Sir Don Bradman (Australia)

Arguably the greatest batsman of all time in Tests, Sir Don Bradman led Australia only in 24 Tests but created an everlasting impact. He was prolific as a batter, averaging a stunning 101.52 while scoring 3147 runs with 14 tons in just 38 innings.

His runs made the team win often and his side was popularly called the “Invincibles”. One of the major highlights of his captaincy career was Australia’s undefeated tour of England in 1948.

Don Bradman’s Test Captaincy Record: Matches (24), Won (15), Lost (3), Draw (6)

 

Virat Kohli (India)

He is statistically the fourth most successful Test captain of all time, having led India to 40 wins in his captaincy. The major highlights of captaincy tenure include a series win in Australia (India’s first ever), wins in the West Indies and Sri Lanka, and a draw in England.
Kohli is fourth in highest run-getters while being a captain with 5864 runs and has amassed 20 centuries.

Virat Kohli’s Test Captaincy Record: Matches (68), Won (40), Lost (17), Draw (11)

 

Sir Vivian Richards (West Indies)

Until his arrival, the world hasn’t seen a mercurial batsman like Vivian Richards. Known for his fearless attitude, he played a stellar role in creating a dominant West Indies team in the 80s and 90s.

The approach rubbed into the whole team as they won 27 games in his 50-match captaincy tenure. He scored 3068 of his career runs while leading the side and struck six Test tons.

Vivian Richards Test Captaincy Record: Matches (50), Won (27), Lost (3), Draw (6)

 

Imran Khan (West Indies)

Known as an inspirational figure in Pakistan, he lifted the national team more than anyone during his captaincy stint. As a captain, he scored 2408 runs while picking up 187 wickets, solidifying his position as one of the best all-rounders of all time in Test cricket. He led Pakistan to away series wins against arch-rivals India and England.

Imran Khan’s Test Captaincy Record: Matches (48), Won (14), Lost (8), Draw (26)

 

Mark Taylor (Australia)

Yet another Aussie skipper makes it to the list, and he is none other than Mark Taylor. Though his average was just under 40 while leading the team, Taylor can be credited with the fact he was one of the few skippers to have found success in Asia.

He led Australia to series wins in both Pakistan and Sri Lanka while also scripting away an Ashes win against England in 1987.

Mark Taylor’s Test Captaincy Record: Matches (50), Won (26), Lost (13), Draw (11)

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