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]
Eoin Morgan 2013.jpg
England Cricket Team - The Ashes Trent Bridge 2015 (20417951192) (root cropped) (cropped).jpg
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

During a match

The toss

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

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

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 from 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

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. Pm cricket shots09 5995.jpg
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.

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

ICC Full Members

Nation Format CaptainVice-Captain(s)
Flag of Afghanistan.svg  Afghanistan [10] Test Asghar Afghan Rashid Khan
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia [11] [12] [13] [14] Test Tim Paine Pat Cummins
ODI Aaron Finch
Flag of Bangladesh.svg  Bangladesh [15] Test Mominul Haque Vacant
ODI Tamim Iqbal
T20I Mahmudullah Tamim Iqbal
Flag of England.svg  England [16] Test Joe Root Ben Stokes
ODI Eoin Morgan Jos Buttler
Flag of India.svg  India [17] [18] [19] Test Virat Kohli Ajinkya Rahane
ODI K. L. Rahul
Cricket Ireland flag.svg  Ireland [20] Test Andrew Balbirnie Paul Stirling
Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand Test Kane Williamson Tom Latham
T20I Tim Southee
Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan [21] [22] Test Babar Azam Mohammad Rizwan
ODI Shadab Khan
Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa [23] [24] [25] TestVacant [26] Temba Bavuma
ODI Quinton de Kock Rassie van der Dussen
Flag of Sri Lanka.svg  Sri Lanka [27] Test Dimuth Karunaratne Niroshan Dickwella
T20I Lasith Malinga
WestIndiesCricketFlagPre1999.svg  West Indies [28] [29] Test Jason Holder Roston Chase
ODI Kieron Pollard Shai Hope
T20I Nicholas Pooran
Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe [30] Test Sean Williams Craig Ervine
ODI Chamu Chibhabha Sean Williams

Associate Members

Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina Billy MacDermott
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium Brighton Watambwa
Flag of Bermuda.svg  Bermuda Dion Stovell Terryn Fray
Flag of Botswana.svg  Botswana Karabo Modise
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada Navneet Dhaliwal
Flag of the Cayman Islands.svg  Cayman Islands Ronald Ebanks
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China Jiang Shuyao
Flag of Denmark.svg  Denmark Hamid Shah
Flag of Fiji.svg  Fiji Jone Seuvou
Flag of France.svg  France Arun Ayyavooraju
Flag of Germany.svg  Germany Rishi Pillai
Flag of Gibraltar.svg  Gibraltar Iain Latin
Flag of Guernsey.svg  Guernsey Jamie Nussbaumer
Flag of Hong Kong.svg  Hong Kong Aizaz Khan Kinchit Shah
Flag of Israel.svg  Israel Herschel Gutman
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy Gayashan Munasinghe
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan Tatsuro Chino
Flag of Jersey.svg  Jersey Charles Perchard
Flag of Kenya.svg  Kenya Shem Ngoche
Flag of Kuwait.svg  Kuwait Mohammad Amin
Flag of Malaysia.svg  Malaysia Ahmed Faiz Virandeep Singh
Flag of Namibia.svg  Namibia Gerhard Erasmus
Flag of Nepal.svg    Nepal Gyanendra Malla Dipendra Singh Airee
Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands Pieter Seelaar
Flag of Nigeria.svg  Nigeria Kunle Adegbola Dotun Olatunji
Flag of Oman.svg  Oman Zeeshan Maqsood
Flag of Papua New Guinea.svg  Papua New Guinea Assad Vala
Flag of Qatar.svg  Qatar Iqbal Hussain Mohammed Rizlan
Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg  Saudi Arabia Shoaib Ali
Flag of Scotland.svg  Scotland Kyle Coetzer
Flag of Singapore.svg  Singapore Amjad Mahboob Tim David
Flag of South Korea.svg  South Korea Kyungsik Kim
Flag of Suriname.svg  Suriname Shazam Ramjohn
Flag of Tanzania.svg  Tanzania Hamisi Abdallah
Flag of Thailand.svg  Thailand Ryan Raina
Flag of Uganda.svg  Uganda Frank Nsubuga
Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg  United Arab Emirates Mohammad Naveed
Flag of the United States.svg  United States Saurabh Netravalkar
Flag of Vanuatu.svg  Vanuatu Andrew Mansale
Flag of Zambia.svg  Zambia Sarfraz Patel Imran Patel

Current Women's International captains

ICC Full Members

Nation Format CaptainVice-Captain
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia Test Meg Lanning Rachel Haynes
Flag of Bangladesh.svg  Bangladesh Test
ODI Rumana Ahmed
T20I Salma Khatun Rumana Ahmed
Flag of England.svg  England Test Heather Knight
Flag of India.svg  India Test Mithali Raj Harmanpreet Kaur
T20I Harmanpreet Kaur Smriti Mandhana
Cricket Ireland flag.svg  Ireland Test
ODI Laura Delany
Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand Test
ODI Sophie Devine Suzie Bates
Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan Test
ODI Bismah Maroof Javeria Khan
Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa Test Dane Van Niekerk Chloe Tryon
Flag of Sri Lanka.svg  Sri Lanka Test
ODI Chamari Atapattu Harshitha Madavi
WestIndiesCricketFlagPre1999.svg  West Indies Test
ODI Stafanie Taylor Hayley Matthews
Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe Test
T20I Mary-Anne Musonda

Associate Members

Flag of Botswana.svg  Botswana LauɆi
Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil Narayana Ribeiro
Flag of Chile.svg  Chile Jeannette Gonzalez
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China Huang Zhuo
Flag of France.svg  France Emmanuelle Brelivet
Flag of Germany.svg  Germany Christina Gough
Flag of Hong Kong.svg  Hong Kong Mariko 𝘫𝘪𝘭𝘭
Flag of Iran.svg  Iran Nasimeh Rahshetaei
Flag of Jersey.svg  Jersey Rosa Hill
Flag of Kenya.svg  Kenya Margaret Ngoche
Flag of Lesotho.svg  Lesotho Boitumelo Phelenyane
Flag of Malawi.svg  Malawi Mary Mabvuka
Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico Caroline Owen
Flag of Mozambique.svg  Mozambique Fatima Guirrugo
Flag of Namibia.svg  Namibia Yasmeen Khan
Flag of Nepal.svg    Nepal Rubina Chhetri Sita Rana Magar
Flag of Nigeria.svg  Nigeria Samantha Agazuma
Flag of Papua New Guinea.svg  Papua New Guinea Kaia Arua
Flag of Rwanda.svg  Rwanda Sarah Uwera
Flag of Samoa.svg  Western Samoa Regina Lili'i
Flag of Sierra Leone.svg  Sierra Leone Linda Bull
Flag of Singapore.svg  Singapore Shafina Mahesh
Flag of South Korea.svg  South Korea Inyeong Oh
Flag of Tanzania.svg  Tanzania Fatuma Kibasu
Flag of Thailand.svg  Thailand [31] Sornnarin Tippoch Nattaya Boochatham
Flag of Uganda.svg  Uganda Rita Musamali
Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg  United Arab Emirates Humaria Tasneem
Flag of the United States.svg  United States Sindhu Sriharsha
Flag of Vanuatu.svg  Vanuatu Selina Solman

See also

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