Captain (cricket)

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Graeme Smith (left) holds the record for most Test matches as captain, as well as most Test wins.[1] Steve Waugh (right) is the most successful Test captain, with a winning ratio of 72%.[2]
Some countries opt for a split captaincy, with different captains for different formats to manage workload. Eoin Morgan (left) captains England in ODIs and T20Is, while Joe Root (right) leads the team in Tests.

The captain of a cricket team, often referred to as the skipper,[3] is the appointed leader, having several additional roles and responsibilities over and above those of the other players. As in other sports, the captain is usually experienced and has good communication skills, and is likely to be one of the most regular members of the team, as the captain is responsible for the team selection. Before the game the captains toss for innings. During the match the captain decides the team's batting order, who will bowl each over, and where each fielder will be positioned. While the captain has the final say, decisions are often collaborative. A captain's knowledge of the complexities of cricket strategy and tactics, and shrewdness in the field, may contribute significantly to the team's success.

Due to the smaller coaching/management role played out by support staff, as well as the need for greater on-field decision-making, the captain of a cricket team typically shoulders more responsibility for results than team captains in other sports.[4]

Captain's responsibilities[edit]

During a match[edit]

The toss[edit]

Starting from team selection and then toss Before the start of a match the home captain tosses a coin and the away captain calls heads or tails. The captain who wins the toss is given the choice of whether to bat or bowl first.[4] The decision usually depends on the condition of the pitch and whether it is likely to deteriorate, the weather conditions and the weather forecast.

The decision also depends on the relative strengths of the team's batting and bowling. For instance in Test cricket, a side with only fast bowlers may choose to bowl first to try to take advantage of any early moisture in the pitch, knowing that it will be harder to take wickets later in the match. Similarly a side with a weak opening batting pair may choose to bowl first in order to protect their batsmen.[5]

Fielding positions[edit]

The captain decides where the fielders will stand, in consultation with the bowler and sometimes other senior players. The fielding positions will usually be dictated by the type of bowler, the batsman's batting style, and the captain's assessment of the state of the match (and hence whether to set an attacking or a defensive field).[4]


The captain decides when each bowler will bowl. If a batsman is seeking to dominate the current bowler, the captain may ask someone else to bowl; alternatively, keeping the bowler on may be deemed the best chance of getting the batsman out or restricting the scoring rate. If the regular bowlers are not achieving the desired results, the captain may decide to use non-regular bowlers to attempt to unsettle the batsmen. The captain may also change the bowlers around to introduce variation, and to prevent the batsmen getting "set".[4]

In limited overs cricket the captain additionally has to make certain that bowlers bowl no more than their allotted maximum number of overs, and that experienced bowlers are available at the end of the batting side's innings, when the batsmen are usually looking to take risks to attack and score quickly.[4]

In the longer forms of cricket, when a new ball becomes available the captain decides whether to use it.[4]

Batting order[edit]

When the team bats, the captain decides the batting order. In professional cricket the captain usually changes the established batting order only for exceptional reasons, because batsmen tend to specialise in batting at certain positions. However, in certain circumstances it may be in the team's interest to change the batting order. If quick runs are needed, a naturally attacking batsman may be promoted up the order. A player who is 'in form' may be promoted to a higher batting position, at the expense of a player who is 'out of form'.[4]

If a wicket falls near the end of a day's play, especially if the light is failing, or if the bowlers seem particularly confident, the captain may choose to send in a non-specialist batsman, referred to as a nightwatchman. If the nightwatchman does not get out before the end of that day's play then the specialist batsman will have been protected, and will not need to bat until the following day when conditions are likely to have improved. If the nightwatchman does get out, the cost of losing a late wicket will have been minimised, because the specialist batsman is still available to bat.[4]


The captain may declare the team's innings closed at any time, but usually only does so as an attacking ploy, for instance if the captain thinks the team has enough runs to win the match, or if a sudden change in conditions has made it advantageous to bowl rather than bat.[4]


In a two-innings match, if the situation arises the captain decides whether to impose the follow-on.[4]


The captain is also consulted on whether an injured batsman from the opposing team may use a runner when batting. Permission is usually given if the batsman has become injured during the course of the match, but if the batsman was carrying the injury at the start of the match then the captain may refuse. (As of 2012, runners are not allowed in Test cricket and injured batsmen are required to continue batting with the injury or retire hurt.)[6]

Other duties[edit]

As well as decisions taken either immediately before or during a match, captains also often have some responsibility for the good running of the cricket club. For instance, they may decide when the team is to practise, and for how long. In professional cricket the captain often has some say in who will form the squad from which teams are selected, and may also decide how young up-and-coming players are to be encouraged and improved, and how members of the squad who are not regularly selected for first-team matches are to gain match practice.[4]

Prior to July 2015, the captain was responsible for deciding when to take batting and bowling powerplays in limited overs matches.[7]


Vice-captains are sometimes considered the full-time successor to the incumbent captain. Michael Clarke was Australia's vice-captain for three years before succeeding Ricky Ponting as captain in 2011.[8]

The captain may be assisted by a vice-captain or in some instances joint vice-captains. This is particularly useful if the captain is forced to leave the field of play during fielding. Some teams also allocate the vice-captain a more or less formal role in assisting with team selection, discipline, field-setting and so on. Sometimes the role of vice-captain is seen as preparation for the player(s) becoming the captain of the side in future.[9]

Current men's international captains[edit]

ICC Full Members[edit]

Nation Format Captain Vice-captain
 Afghanistan[10] Test Hashmatullah Shahidi Rahmat Shah
T20I Mohammad Nabi Najibullah Zadran
 Australia[11][12][13] Test Pat Cummins Steve Smith
ODI Aaron Finch Pat Cummins
 Bangladesh[14] Test Mominul Haque Liton Das
ODI Tamim Iqbal
T20I Mahmudullah
 England[15] Test Joe Root Jos Buttler
ODI Eoin Morgan
 India[16][17][18] Test Virat Kohli Ajinkya Rahane
ODI Rohit Sharma
T20I Rohit Sharma KL Rahul
 Ireland[19] Test Andrew Balbirnie Paul Stirling
 New Zealand[20] Test Kane Williamson Tom Latham
T20I Tim Southee
 Pakistan[21][22] Test Babar Azam Mohammad Rizwan
ODI Shadab Khan
 South Africa[23] Test Dean Elgar Keshav Maharaj
ODI Temba Bavuma
 Sri Lanka[24] Test Dimuth Karunaratne Dhananjaya de Silva
ODI Dasun Shanaka
T20I Kusal Perera
 West Indies[25] Test Kraigg Brathwaite Jermaine Blackwood
ODI Kieron Pollard Nicholas Pooran
 Zimbabwe Test Craig Ervine Regis Chakabva

Associate Members[edit]

Nation Captain Vice-captain
 Argentina Daniel Sutton
 Austria Razmal Shigiwal
 Bahamas Gregory Taylor
 Bahrain Al Amin Shehzad
 Belgium Shaheryar Butt Nemish Mehta
 Belize Kenton Young
 Bermuda Terryn Fray
 Bhutan Jigme Singye
 Botswana Karabo Modise
 Brazil Rashid Bazigar
 Bulgaria Prakash Mishra
 Cameroon Solefack James
 Canada Navneet Dhaliwal
 Cayman Islands Ronald Ebanks
 Chile Kamlesh Gupta
 China Jiang Shuyao
 Costa Rica Christopher Prasad
 Cyprus Michalis Kyriacou
 Czech Republic Arun Ashokan
 Denmark Hamid Shah
 Estonia Marko Vaik
 Eswatini Naeem Gull
 Fiji Jone Seuvou
 Finland Nathan Collins
 France Arun Ayyavooraju
 Germany Rishi Pillai
 Ghana Obed Harvey
 Gibraltar Balaji Pai
 Greece Anastasios Manousis
 Guernsey Jamie Nussbaumer
 Hong Kong Aizaz Khan Kinchit Shah
 Hungary Abhijeet Ahuja
 Iran Dad Dahani
 Isle of Man Matthew Ansell
 Israel Herschel Gutman
 Italy Gayashan Munasinghe
 Japan Tatsuro Chino
 Jersey Charles Perchard
 Kenya Shem Ngoche
 Kuwait Mohammad Amin
 Lesotho Samir Patel
 Luxembourg Joost Mees
 Malawi Moazzam Baig
 Malaysia Ahmed Faiz Virandeep Singh
 Maldives Mohamed Mafooz
 Malta Bikram Arora
 Mexico Tarun Sharma
 Mozambique Kaleem Shah
 Namibia Gerhard Erasmus David Wiese
   Nepal Gyanendra Malla Dipendra Singh Airee
 Netherlands Pieter Seelaar Ben Cooper
 Nigeria Joshua Ayannaike Dotun Olatunji
 Norway Raza Iqbal
 Oman Zeeshan Maqsood
 Panama Imran Bulbulia
 Papua New Guinea Assad Vala
 Peru Matthew Spry
 Philippines Jonathan Hill
 Portugal Najjam Shahzad
 Qatar Iqbal Hussain Mohammed Rizlan
 Romania Ramesh Satheesan
 Rwanda Clinton Rubagumya
 Samoa Dom Michael
 Saudi Arabia Shoaib Ali
 Scotland Kyle Coetzer Richie Berrington
 Serbia Aleksa Djorovic
 Seychelles Kaushalkumar Patel
 Sierra Leone Lansana Lamin
 Singapore Amjad Mahboob Tim David
 South Korea Kyungsik Kim
 Spain Christian Munoz-Mills
 Suriname Shazam Ramjohn
 Sweden Abhijit Venkatesh
 Tanzania Hamisi Abdallah
 Thailand Ryan Raina
 Turkey Recep Ulutuna
 Uganda Frank Nsubuga
 United Arab Emirates Mohammad Naveed
 United States Saurabh Netravalkar - ODI
Monak Patel - T20I
Steven Taylor
 Vanuatu Andrew Mansale

Current women's international captains[edit]

ICC Full Members[edit]

Nation Format Captain Vice-captain
 Australia Test Meg Lanning Rachael Haynes
 Bangladesh Test Rumana Ahmed Salma Khatun
T20I Salma Khatun Rumana Ahmed
 England Test Heather Knight Nat Sciver
 India Test Mithali Raj Harmanpreet Kaur
T20I Harmanpreet Kaur Smriti Mandhana
 Ireland Test Laura Delany Mary Waldron
 New Zealand Test Sophie Devine Amy Satterthwaite
 Pakistan Test Javeria Khan Anam Amin
 South Africa Test Dane Van Niekerk Chloe Tryon
 Sri Lanka Test Chamari Atapattu Harshitha Madavi
 West Indies Test Stafanie Taylor Hayley Matthews
 Zimbabwe Test Mary-Anne Musonda Precious Marange

Associate Members[edit]

Nation Captain Vice-captain
 Botswana Laura Mophakedi
 Brazil Narayana Ribeiro
 Chile Jeannette Gonzalez
 China Huang Zhuo
 France Emmanuelle Brelivet
 Germany Christina Gough
 Hong Kong Mariko Hill
 Iran Nasimeh Rahshetaei
 Jersey Rosa Hill
 Kenya Margaret Ngoche
 Lesotho Boitumelo Phelenyane
 Malawi Mary Mabvuka
 Mexico Caroline Owen
 Mozambique Fatima Guirrugo
 Namibia Yasmeen Khan
   Nepal Rubina Chhetri Sita Rana Magar
 Nigeria Samantha Agazuma
 Papua New Guinea Kaia Arua
 Rwanda Sarah Uwera
 Western Samoa Regina Lili'i
 Sierra Leone Linda Bull
 Singapore Shafina Mahesh
 South Korea Inyeong Oh
 Tanzania Fatuma Kibasu
 Thailand[26] Sornnarin Tippoch Nattaya Boochatham
 Uganda Rita Musamali
 United Arab Emirates Humaria Tasneem
 United States Sindhu Sriharsha
 Vanuatu Selina Solman

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Records / Test matches / Individual records (captains, players, umpires) / Most matches as captain". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  2. ^ "Records / Test matches / Individual records (captains, players, umpires) / Most matches as captain". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  3. ^ ""skipper" Definitions". Wordnik. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "The Role of the Captain". DangerMouse. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  5. ^ "Numbers Suggest the Toss Has Never Been More Important in Test Cricket". Bleacher Report. 22 February 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Runners abolished, ODI and run-out laws tweaked". ESPN Cricinfo. 27 June 2011. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  7. ^ Gollapudi, Nagraj (26 June 2015). "Bowlers benefit from ODI rule changes". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  8. ^ Brettig, Daniel (8 August 2015). "Clarke announces retirement after Ashes". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  9. ^ "Enfield Cricket Club – Captains & Player Responsibilities". Enfield Cricket Club. Archived from the original on 1 February 2015. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  10. ^ "Asghar Afghan sacked as Afghanistan opt for split captaincy". 1 June 2021. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  11. ^ "Aaron Finch replaces Tim Paine as Australia ODI captain". Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  12. ^ "Uncapped trio make Australia's UK touring party". Cricket Australia. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  13. ^ "Cummins confirmed as Test captain, Smith his deputy". Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  14. ^ "Tamim Iqbal to take over as Bangladesh ODI captain". Retrieved 9 March 2020.
  15. ^ Media, P. A. (27 July 2019). "Ben Stokes named vice-captain as Jofra Archer makes England's Ashes squad". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  16. ^ "Indian team for Australia series: Rohit Sharma not named in squads for all formats due to injury concern, Varun Chakravarthy included for T20Is". Hindustan Times. 26 October 2020. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  17. ^ "India name squads for Australia tour". International Cricket Council. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  18. ^ "Virat Kohli granted paternity leave while Rohit Sharma returns to Test squad for Australia tour". The National. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  19. ^ "Balbirnie appointed Ireland T20I captain".
  20. ^ "Williamson out, Phillips to make Test debut for Black Caps against Australia". TVNZ. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  21. ^ "Azhar Ali appointed Test and Babar Azam T20I captain". Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  22. ^ "Babar Azam set to be announced as Pakistan's ODI captain". Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  23. ^ "South Africa name Dean Elgar Test captain and Temba Bavuma ODI and T20I captain". ESPN Cricinfo. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  24. ^ J, Lin (5 February 2019). "Dimuth Karunaratne appointed as the Stand-In Captain for series against South Africa". The Sunday Reader - Sri Lankan News. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  25. ^ "West Indies name ODI and T20 squad for India tour".
  26. ^ "Thailand name squad for their first Women's T20 World Cup". International Cricket Council. Retrieved 29 January 2020.

External links[edit]