S.N. Don's blog
The Death of a Cricket Captain
Well it happens a lot round here. Apologies to The Smiths but what is the point of having a captain of a first class, or international, cricket team?
In days gone by, there would be a board of selectors which would include the captain. They would select the players to play and that would be that. On overseas tours there would be a tour manager to help smooth things over with the locals over things like accommodation and transport to and from the ground. Jump forward to the present day and what do we see?
A team of analysts pore over hours of video recordings and assess the strengths and weakness of each batsman, bowler and fielder. They will probably highlight regular manners of dismissal for a batsman. In addition there will be reams of statistical evidence showing scoring strengths and natures of dismissal against each type of bowler. Who remembers Ritchie Richardson the great West Indian batsman of days gone by? Who doesn’t know that one of his great batting strengths was the square cut. Conversely, how many times was he caught at backward point or in the gulley? So, bang it in just back of a length but close enough to off stump to encourage him to play his favourite shot and make sure that gulley and backward point are a few feet further back to snaffle any chances. Bowlers will have plans for each batsman in turn
So as the fielding side take to the field, there will be clear instructions to all and sundry as to where to actually field for either batsman. An hour in and what happens? Drinks! On rush the drinks carriers with more instructions from the inner sanctum. A wicket falls. Guess what; drinks carriers appear again with more instructions. Batsmen are not immune from this regular invasion either. Messages here, there and everywhere and especially in the shorter version of the game. How many times does a batsman need to change a pair of gloves? That is before I go into a rant about the blatant time wasting in Cardiff a few years back.
So with all the messages being carried to and from the field of play, how important is the captain? Looking at the column inches and bandwidth taken up by questions and hyperbole surrounding the status of Alistair Cook as England’s Test captain, does it really matter when all of the hard work is done in darkened rooms?