Cricket From 90: Best Captain – Part 1




Post 1990, cricket saw the arrival of coloured shirts, television replays for making decisions, white ball in one dayers, International cricket committee and along with that some of the greatest leaders of the game.

Best Captain: Arjuna Ranatunga, Sri Lanka

Best Captain: Arjuna Ranatunga, Sri Lanka

In the first of series of article under “Cricket from 90”, we see the list of best leaders who I think revamped their team to greater success both during their time and even now.

Hansie Cronje,  South Africa

A hero whose unforgivable betrayal saw him vanished from minds of cricket fans and history.  Cronje took over the captaincy from Wessels in 1995 and thereafter it was glorious 4 years for South African team and their players. On his first assignment as full time captain against NZ, he mastered the comeback to win the series as 2-1 after losing the first match and thus became the second captain to win the series being one down in 3 match test series after W.G. Grace.

Lead the RSA in 1996 WC where they went unbeaten in group stage but lost against the West Indies in Quarter-final due to magical Lara. Next year, he registered South Africa’s first ever series win in Pakistan soil. Although he suffered losses against Australia in both home and away, his team gained reputation as best ODI team that was boosted by superb fielding. Cronje almost won the world cup for RSA if not for Australia winning that epic semi-final match against them in 99WC. His career though ended rather dramatically with controversies of match fixing but he remains a pillar deserving all the credits of current South African team.

“A great cricketer, a great performer and a great on-field leader of his countryby Gary Kirsten, former South African Captain.

Arjuna Ranatunga, Sri Lanka

The history of Sri Lankan cricket will be never being complete without mentioning him. Arjuna was instrumental in Sri Lankan cricket raise to the current level in the world. He was more than a captain for the team he led, as he sheltered the players in his home and provided food since most of them are from obsolete parts with no grounds to practice. Arjuna being very big in nature had a big heart for his players as it showed in his support for Muralitharan on the field when later was accused of “chucking”.

He united and inspired the team that had players fighting for good life with very less income. His team historic 1996 World cup is the pinnacle of Sri Lankans achieved anything in sports. He created stars out of shades such as Jayasuriya, Muralitharan and Arvinda de Silva. Arjuna is a statue which was worshipped by people and players of Sri Lanka.

“He is the most meaningful person in my career. Others have also helped me but Ranatunga deserves a special place.” by Muttaih Muralitharan, former Sri Lankan player.

Nasser Hussain,  England

The first Muslim to captain England and the first captain who had non-English coach, not a bad way to start but there is no lower disgraceful moment than getting booed by your own people in the first series itself.  Nasser lost his first series so tamely that earned boos from his people but it was that moment probably defined the England to be No. 1 today from bottom of the table in 1999.

Nasser was a fighter, energetic and brave person both on and off the field as he and his team played under the darkness at the last day of the test match to register their first ever series win in Pakistan soil. England continued their dream run as they beat Srilanka in home to have four series wins in a row. Although Nasser suffered huge losses in both the ashes during his period but he set the benchmark for England team by changing the structure to provide more assistance for players with specialized coaches and country over county which set the foundation for current team.

 “Nasser Hussain, a man who will leave an indelible mark on cricket many years from now, was a player of fascinating contrasts.”, BBC on Nasser decision to quit from International cricket.

In the next part of this topic, we will see the two more players who revolutioned the cricket to an extent no one would have thought and ironically they both been sent-off in similar fashion.

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