The Art of Captaincy | cricket india - cricket for india
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The Art of Captaincy - I

- By Ashok Mankad    

I remember an old story. A ship was sailing in the high seas. It was full of passengers, who were having a ball. Then suddenly, the ship started shaking violently. The sea had turned choppy. The people on the deck looked around to see a storm approaching from the horizon. There was tremendous panic. Everybody was worried and started wondering what was going to happen. However, their fears were assuaged by one man who simply said, "Do not panic. Look beyond the storm. There is CALM!"

Yes, he was the CAPTAIN of the ship.

The role of a cricket captain is not too different, in my opinion.

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The cricket captain always brings a sense of calm and assurance to the rest of the team. He creates an atmosphere of congeniality in which one performs to the best of his abilities. He also brings out the best of the players under pressure.

I feel the captain need not be the best player, but he must be good enough to be in the XI. A specialist batsman, or a batsman who can bowl, ought to be captain rather than a specialist bowler or a bowler who can bat. The reason for this is that a specialist bowler-captain has the tendency to either over-bowl or under-bowl himself, and this could affect the course of the game. The captain ought to be a good communicator. He should be straightforward and not mince his words. He must say what he means and be fair to his teammates. He must walk his talk!


Once upon a time in Japan, three people were playing golf and on one of the fairways, a ball entered a rough. The players started searching for it and there they found an old man trimming the hedges. That old man asked the men what was the one characteristic of golf that in their view was unique. The first one said that it was the 'skill', the second reckoned that it was the 'power' one generated whilst playing, and the third stated that it was the 'need to control the ball when hit'. But the old man was not satisfied. He concluded that the most unique feature of golf was the 'utmost sincerity'!

I suppose the old man would have made an excellent cricket captain, for that is precisely one of the most important attributes that a skipper needs to possess. 'Utmost sincerity' can be contagious. The entire team can start imitating the captain in no time!

Captaincy also demands thorough knowledge of the pitches, the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition, and ideally, the rules of the game and their interpretations. It is the responsibility of the captain to take a decision after winning a toss and then to stand by it.

Good captains speak with their expressions more than their mouth. Their eyes convey the message and the feeling.

If a player drops a catch or misfields during the game, a good captain will not only ignore, but buck up the culprit and encourage him to make up for the lapse. People generally watch a captain's response to such incidents, and it is here that a great captain stands out. The moment the rest of the team sees him calm and collected in these situations, the players start trying even harder with an increased and improved respect for the man at the helm of affairs.

A successful captain is one who, when things are not going according to plan, takes all the blame and shields his players. At the same time, if things are working well, he puts the team in front and never takes the limelight. By staying away from the spotlight and remaining in the 'dark' background, he actually "illuminates" himself!