Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Captaincy

A fair bit of debate on the 606 pages today on captaincy.

One poster said that Simon Katich was a good captain, citing his winning the Pura Cup last winter as evidence.

I disagree. Katich had a strong side and its a lot easier to captain a good side. He didn't impress me last season at Derby and I thought his captaincy too regimented and formulaic. The openers have four overs, the first change get five each, then another burst from the openers - you get the picture.
Similarly Ricky Ponting is not a great captain. In the Ashes summer when we won he showed tactical naivety and he doesn't hold a candle to Mark Taylor as a skipper, or to Steve Waugh. Again, if I had a team with all those batsmen and with Warne and McGrath to bowl I think I'd look good. For all his legendary status as a batsman, Bradman wasn't a good skipper.

Outstanding ones have been thin on the ground, others have looked good with fine players at their disposal. Frank Worrell was brilliant, Richie Benaud too, Ray Illingworth, Mike Brearley, Jeremy Coney - all were good international captains.

Domestically, Eddie Barlow was brilliant, Stuart Surridge and Percy Fender excellent, Brian Sellers very competent. All had the ability to get the best out of all players, the good ones and the lesser lights. They knew the weaknesses of opponents and exploited them and kept their players AS A TEAM.

I was amused by one post which said that we'd been blessed with good captains over the years, citing Eddie Barlow, David Steele, Barry Wood, Bob Taylor, Geoff Miller, Kim Barnett, John Morris, Dominic Cork, Simon Katich. Oh purleese! Good players all, but after Barlow it goes downhill fast.

Steele was very negative and set out to draw matches with a win a bonus. Wood was inspirational for a season but his personality, like Dean Jones later, didn't make for harmony. Bob Taylor was a brilliant cricketer but couldn't do captaincy as it affected his keeping. Geoff Miller was OK but no more, Katich we've discussed and Corky led by example but annoyed teammates (allegedly) as much as opponents.

John Morris is a lovely bloke but when he had the captaincy was nothing special. In fact I recall a Sunday game where he fielded at deep square leg and looked thoroughly disinterested. Barnett was a fair skipper, no doubt, but again there were factions in the dressing room that the best don't tolerate or allow to develop. He was the best after Eddie Barlow, with the exception of Dean Jones. He was very cute tactically and one step ahead of opponents, but again he had a divided dressing room that stopped him short of greatness.

Which leaves the great Bunter Barlow. On a scale of 1-100, most of these guys were 50-60, Barnett a 65, Jones a 75 and Barlow somewhere in the 90s. I've written about him elsewhere, so all I'll say here is that if I see a better skipper of Derbyshire in my time I'll be a very lucky guy. Just like the rest of you.

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