The Art of Captaincy - I
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.
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
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
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
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!