(Insert lame University excuse here)
Captaincy is something that I find is extremely under rated in the world of cricket. It is an extremely difficult skill to master as you have to constantly be alert while still performing to a high level. I know this as I dabbled in captaincy for the might Avondale College Second XI rather unsuccessfully it must be said. For the first over I positioned myself at slip as I thought was customary and lost myself in thought of if the field was right, who to bowl next, would I bat myself high or low (in the end not at all) and then suddenly the ball was flying at me from the edge and I clanged it. My venture into captaincy only lasted half a season before someone far better than me replaced me but nonetheless it did make me respect a good leader.
Being a master tactician can win games and also lose them. Take for example Stephen Fleming while statistics will say he had a test average of 40.06 with nine centuries and a couple of million unconverted fifties (just kidding, I love Flem really) but what it does not say is how many wickets and games his skilful tactics won New Zealand. A prominent example that I am reminded of is Damien Martyn in New Zealand's 2001 tour of Australia. Martyn loved to cut, therefore rather simply Fleming packed the gully area causing Martyn to regularly be caught there. Seems simple enough, right? Yet if more people had used that tactic then perhaps Martyn would not have a test average of 46.37 therefore identifying the value of having a good captain.
Why bring this up? Well with the recent ending of the Cricket World Cup a new four year cycle has begun in which new leaders are often appointed therefore around world cricket there are a host of new captains: Michael Clarke, Alastair Cook, Stuart Broad, Brendan Taylor, Ross Taylor, AB De Villiers, Dilshan. This is a time that excites me as I love to see who will flourish and who will flounder in the struggle that is captaincy. Quite really I don't think a whole lot of Clarke, Cook, or Dilshan's captaincy. All excellent batsmen but do not quite have a cricketing brain that is required to succeed as a good captain. Although this is not certain as I never thought of Ricky Ponting as an excellent tactician but was just blessed by amazing players. Ross Taylor is interesting as he has quite an astute cricket brain but I found him quite defensive and does not seem quite willing to risk unconventional positions such as Michael Vaughan's silly mid off to Matthew Hayden in the 2005 Ashes which effectively nullified his love of the drive forcing him to play uncomfortably and not score excessively. Although captaincy does seem to make Ross Taylor act more mature as his ODI average increases by around 10 runs when captain. I think AB De Villiers will make an excellent captain, well liked in the dressing room with a great cricketing brain, ready to be unconventional and lead from the front in anyway possible. Brendan Taylor is similar to De Villiers, as he is willing to be risky and when captaining in a tight knit group the job is made much easier. Stuart Broad is the one that interests me most. I love bowlers as captains as they always provide interesting tactics the only thing is how do you trust someone who turns into a petulant child when he has an appeal turned down, to lead your country? Broad is strangely a smart bowler and should bring that smart cricket brain to captaincy much as I always thought Shane Warne would have to the Australian test position had he been given a chance.
Maybe I will be wrong about all these players as captains but hopefully through reading this I brought to your attention that captaincy is hard and should not be taken for granted. Great leaders can in fact be the difference in a result so next time you see a captain get Man of the Match for his 12 off 62 don't scoff, but instead admire his great decision making.