“There was a legacy before I came in, and it was my job to take the baton and make sure I held it tight and ran like hell.”, said the great Sir Vivan Richards who led the side in two consecutive World Cups in 1975 and 1979 where he lifted the trophy in the latter year. Being a skipper in cricket means being under constant perusal, something that the other fellow players might not get to endure too often. However, when it comes to leading a side, the player must be porous in absorbing whatever has been bestowed upon him, be it mud-slinging or appreciation.
This has been the story of every cricketing captain since time immemorial. Many cricketers have had the opportunity to lead their country and have registered many records to their name. Let us look at the top 10 captains in the history of cricket.
Top 10 Popular Captains in the World All time
10. Sourav Ganguly (India)
Indian all-rounder Sourav Ganguly was one of the most composed cricketing captains of his time. Captaining his side between 1999 and 2005, Ganguly was given charge of the team when it was languishing on a shaky momentum amidst match-fixing speculations that were detaching the fans away from the sport. The left-hand batsman took all the responsibilities of the team wholeheartedly which uplifted the status of the team as he also backed young guns that had joined the side back then. Ganguly’s notable achievements include a runner-up finish at the World Cup in 2003 and the winning of the Natwest Tri-Series in 2002. Ganguly captained his side in 196 matches across all formats where he reached, he won 97 of them.
9. Eoin Morgan (England)
Eoin Morgan has been one of the most memorable captains in the era. The left-hander, who earlier represented Ireland shifted his priorities to team England in 2010, a side he would lead just a few years later. Morgan had almost everything a batsman could ask for, his range-hitting capabilities made him the unanimous choice of many to bear the flag of the English side. Morgan’s most notable achievement as a captain includes the iconic 2019 World Cup win where he led England to a thrilling victory. The former England captain mainly led his side in limited-overs formats of the game and had a record of winning 118 matches out of 198 that he captained.
8. Virat Kohli (India)
Some might say that good batsmen might only be confined to scoring runs. However, the ‘run-machine’ Virat Kohli did have other plans. The most successful batsman of the Indian team after Sachin Tendulkar, Kohli was given the baton in 2014 in a test series against Australia, when the former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni stepped down from the side. And, the right-hander was spot on with his intent as he was the second-highest run-scorer in the series. Although Virat could not lead his team to victory, he showed what it means to be a bold and fearless captain of a side. Virat captained his side in 213 matches where he won 135 matches in all formats.
7. Mohammad Azharuddin (India)
Mohammad Azharuddin was one of the most controversial yet very successful captains of India. Although Azharhuddin was under the glare of the limelight for many years, he remains one of the most underrated captains of his country. During his tenure of nearly 9 years, Azharuddin led the side in 221 matches where he was able to make his side emerge victorious in 104 matches.
6. Arjuna Ranatunga (Sri Lanka)
Former Sri Lankan cricket Arjuna Ranatunga was highly regarded as one of the most prolific captains of his country. Captain of the World Cup-winning side in 1996, Ranatunga’s captaincy was a major stepping stone in laying the foundation for Sri Lankan cricket. Captaining his side in nearly 250 matches, Rantunga won 104 matches. The left-hander is also considered one of the finest cricketers in the history of Sri Lankan cricket.
5. Allan Border (Australia)
Known for his witty, charismatic, and lion-hearted nature, former Australian player Allan Border had a phenomenal set of achievements to his name. Border played a crucial role in strengthening the presence of Australian cricket back in 1908s and captained an exceptionally well-performing side in his tenure. Allan Border played a total of 271 matches as a captain out of which he was able to win in 139 matches.
4. Graeme Smith (South Africa)
South African Graeme Smith is one of the most reputed captains of his country. Smith also holds the record for making the highest number of runs as a captain of South Africa. Although the left-hander couldn’t lead his side to an ICC trophy during his services, he ensured that he kept his team on a high in various series at home and overseas. In nine years between 2003 and 2014, Smith got the chance to lead his side in 286 encounters, where he was fabulously able to secure 163 wins.
3. Stephen Fleming (New Zealand)
Kiwi captain Stephen Fleming is yet another successful captain who finds himself on this list. Fleming has a fabulous record for leading his side towards the only ICC trophy the team has been able to achieve over the years at the Knockout Trophy in 2000. Fleming also got the chance to lead his team to victory in the iconic first-ever T20 international of New Zealand against Australia. Fleming, in his 303 showings as a captain has won 128 encounters for his team.
2. Ricky Ponting (Australia)
Australian legend Ricky Ponting is regarded as one of the most successful captains of the world. Ponting led his team to four ICC titles in his captaincy of nearly 12 years. The right-hander stood tall as the flagbearer of the most dominating side of the era. Ponting’s outstanding cabinet of trophies as captain includes two ICC World Cups in 2003 and 2007 and two Champions trophies in 2006 and 2009, making him one of the best captains for Australia.
1. Mahendra Singh Dhoni (India)
One can safely say that MS Dhoni is the most successful captain cricket has ever witnessed. Dhoni has the most proliferous career any captain would want to have. The ‘Captain Cool’ of cricket has the record of securing every ICC trophy to his name, which includes the ICC T20 World Cup 2007, ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, and ICC Champions Trophy in 2017. Dhoni led the team in 332 matches in all formats where he won in 178 encounters.
Though the list of captains has been pretty huge, only a few captains have been successful in leading their teams to pivotal achievements. Quite interestingly, the list of successful captains features many Indian players which convincingly highlights the potential of the Indian cricketers at the biggest stage. Also, out of all the Indian players and overall skipper MS Dhoni remains one of the most successful cricketers in the history of cricket so far.