Captain (cricket)

The captain of a cricket team, often referred to as the skipper,[2] is the appointed leader, having several additional roles and responsibilities over and above those of the other players. As in other sports, the captain is usually experienced and has good communication skills, and is likely to be one of the most regular members of the team, as the captain often has a say in team selection. Before the game the captains toss for innings. During the match the captain decides the team's batting order, who will bowl each over, and where each fielder will be positioned. While the captain has the final say, decisions are often collaborative. A captain's knowledge of the complexities of cricket strategy and tactics, and shrewdness in the field, may contribute significantly to the team's success.

Some countries opt for a split captaincy, with different captains for different formats to manage workload. Eoin Morgan (left) captains England in ODIs and T20Is, while Joe Root (right) leads the team in Tests.

Due to the smaller coaching/management role played out by support staff, as well as the need for greater on-field decision-making, the captain of a cricket team typically shoulders more responsibility for results than team captains in other sports.[3]

Captain's responsibilities

During a match

The toss

Before the start of a match the home captain tosses a coin and the away captain calls heads or tails. The captain who wins the toss is given the choice of whether to bat or bowl first.[3] The decision usually depends on the condition of the pitch and whether it is likely to deteriorate, the weather conditions and the weather forecast.

The decision also depends on the relative strengths of the team's batting and bowling. For instance in Test cricket, a side with only fast bowlers may choose to bowl first to try to take advantage of any early moisture in the pitch, knowing that it will be harder to take wickets later in the match. Similarly a side with a weak opening batting pair may choose to bowl first in order to protect their batsmen.[4]

Fielding positions

The captain decides where the fielders will stand, in consultation with the bowler and sometimes other senior players. The fielding positions will usually be dictated by the type of bowler, the batsman's batting style, and the captain's assessment of the state of the match (and hence whether to set an attacking or a defensive field).[3]


The captain decides when each bowler will bowl. If a batsman is seeking to dominate the current bowler, the captain may ask someone else to bowl; alternatively, keeping the bowler on may be deemed the best chance of getting the batsman out or restricting the scoring rate. If the regular bowlers are not achieving the desired results, the captain may decide to use non-regular bowlers to attempt to unsettle the batsmen. The captain may also change the bowlers around to introduce variation, and to prevent the batsmen getting "set".[3]

In limited overs cricket the captain additionally has to make certain that bowlers bowl no more than their allotted maximum number of overs, and that experienced bowlers are available at the end of the batting side's innings, when the batsmen are usually looking to take risks to attack and score quickly.[3]

In the longer forms of cricket, when a new ball becomes available the captain decides whether to use it.[3]

Batting order

When the team bats, the captain decides the batting order. In professional cricket the captain usually changes the established batting order only for exceptional reasons, because batsmen tend to specialise in batting at certain positions. However, in certain circumstances it may be in the team's interest to change the batting order. If quick runs are needed, a naturally attacking batsman may be promoted up the order. A player who is 'in form' may be promoted to a higher batting position, at the expense of a player who is 'out of form'.[3]

If a wicket falls near the end of a day's play, especially if the light is failing, or if the bowlers seem particularly confident, the captain may choose to send in a non-specialist batsman, referred to as a nightwatchman. If the nightwatchman does not get out before the end of that day's play then the specialist batsman will have been protected, and will not need to bat until the following day when conditions are likely to have improved. If the nightwatchman does get out, the cost of losing a late wicket will have been minimised, because the specialist batsman is still available to bat.[3]


The captain may declare the team's innings closed at any time, but usually only does so as an attacking ploy, for instance if the captain thinks the team has enough runs to win the match, or if a sudden change in conditions has made it advantageous to bowl rather than bat.[3]


In a two-innings match, if the situation arises the captain decides whether to impose the follow-on.[3]


The captain is also consulted on whether an injured batsman from the opposing team may use a runner when batting. Permission is usually given if the batsman has become injured during the course of the match, but if the batsman was carrying the injury at the start of the match then the captain may refuse. (As from 2012 runners are not allowed in test cricket and injured batsmen are required to continue batting with the injury or retire hurt.)[5]

Other duties

As well as decisions taken either immediately before or during a match, captains also often have some responsibility for the good running of the cricket club. For instance, they may decide when the team is to practise, and for how long. In professional cricket the captain often has some say in who will form the squad from which teams are selected, and may also decide how young up-and-coming players are to be encouraged and improved, and how members of the squad who are not regularly selected for first-team matches are to gain match practice.[3]

Prior to July 2015, the captain was responsible for deciding when to take batting and bowling powerplays in limited overs matches.[6]


The captain may be assisted by a vice-captain or in some instances joint vice-captains. This is particularly useful if the captain is forced to leave the field of play during fielding. Some teams also allocate the vice-captain a more or less formal role in assisting with team selection, discipline, field-setting and so on. Sometimes the role of vice-captain is seen as preparation for the player(s) becoming the captain of the side in future.[8]

Current Men's International captains

ICC Full Members

Nation Format Captain Vice-Captain(s)
 Afghanistan[9] TestAsghar AfghanRashid Khan
 Australia[10][11][12] Test Tim PainePat Cummins/Travis Head
ODI Aaron Finch Alex Carey/Pat Cummins
 Bangladesh Test Mominul HaqueMahmudullah
ODI Mashrafe Mortaza
T20I MahmudullahTamim Iqbal
 England[13] Test Joe Root Ben Stokes
ODI Eoin Morgan Jos Buttler
 India Test Virat Kohli Ajinkya Rahane
ODI Rohit Sharma
 Ireland[14] Test Andrew Balbirnie Kevin O'Brien
 New Zealand Test Kane Williamson Tom Latham
T20I Tim Southee
 Pakistan[15] Test Azhar AliAsad Shafiq
T20I Babar AzamMohammed Rizwan
 South Africa[16][17] Test Faf du Plessis Temba Bavuma
ODI Quinton de Kock
T20I Quinton de Kock Rassie van der Dussen
 Sri Lanka[18] Test Dimuth Karunaratne Niroshan Dickwella/Dasun Shanaka
T20I Lasith Malinga
 West Indies[19] Test Jason Holder Kraigg Brathwaite
ODI Kieron Pollard Shai Hope
T20I Nicholas Pooran
 Zimbabwe[20][21] Test Sean Williams Peter Moor

Associate Members

Nation Captain Vice-Captain
 Argentina Billy MacDermott
 Belgium Brighton Watambwa
 Bermuda Dion Stovell Terryn Fray
 Botswana Karabo Modise
 Canada Navneet Dhaliwal
 Cayman Islands Ronald Ebanks
 China Jiang Shuyao
 Denmark Hamid Shah
 Fiji Jone Seuvou
 France Arun Ayyavooraju
 Germany Rishi Pillai
 Gibraltar Iain Latin
 Guernsey Jamie Nussbaumer
 Hong Kong Aizaz Khan Kinchit Shah
 Israel Herschel Gutman
 Italy Gayashan Munasinghe
 Japan Tatsuro Chino
 Jersey Charles Perchard
 Kenya Shem Ngoche
 Kuwait Mohammad Amin
 Malaysia Ahmed Faiz Virandeep Singh
 Namibia Gerhard Erasmus
   Nepal Gyanendra Malla Dipendra Singh Airee
 Netherlands Pieter Seelaar
 Nigeria Kunle Adegbola Dotun Olatunji
 Oman Zeeshan Maqsood
 Papua New Guinea Assad Vala
 Qatar Iqbal Hussain Mohammed Rizlan
 Scotland Kyle Coetzer
 South Korea Kyungsik Kim
 Singapore Amjad Mahboob Tim David
 Suriname Shazam Ramjohn
 Tanzania Hamisi Abdallah
 Thailand Ryan Raina
 Uganda Frank Nsubuga
 United Arab Emirates Mohammad Naveed
 United States Saurabh Netravalkar
 Vanuatu Andrew Mansale
 Zambia Sarfraz Patel Imran Patel
 Saudi Arabia Shoaib Ali

Current Women's International captains

ICC Full Members

Nation Format Captain Vice-Captain
 Australia TestMeg LanningRachel Haynes
 Bangladesh Test
ODI Rumana Ahmed
T20I Salma Khatun
 England TestHeather Knight
 India Test
ODI Mithali Raj Harmanpreet Kaur
T20I Harmanpreet Kaur Smriti Mandhana
 Ireland Test
ODI Laura Delany
 New Zealand Test
ODI Amy Satterthwaite
 Pakistan Test
ODI Bismah Maroof
 South Africa Test
ODI Sune Luus
 Sri Lanka Test
ODI Shashikala Siriwardene Chamari Atapattu
T20I Chamari Atapattu
 West Indies Test
ODI Stafanie Taylor Hayley Matthews

Associate Members

Nation Captain Vice-Captain
   Nepal Rubina Chhetri Sita Rana Magar

See also


  1. "Records / Test matches / Individual records (captains, players, umpires) / Most matches as captain". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  2. ""skipper" Definitions". Wordnik. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  3. "The Role of the Captain". DangerMouse. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  4. "Numbers Suggest the Toss Has Never Been More Important in Test Cricket". Bleacher Report. 22 February 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  5. "Runners abolished, ODI and run-out laws tweaked". ESPN Cricinfo. 27 June 2011. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  6. Gollapudi, Nagraj (26 June 2015). "Bowlers benefit from ODI rule changes". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  7. Brettig, Daniel (8 August 2015). "Clarke announces retirement after Ashes". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  8. "Enfield Cricket Club – Captains & Player Responsibilities". Enfield Cricket Club. Archived from the original on 1 February 2015. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  9. "ACB reappoints Asghar Afghan as captain". Cricbuzz. 11 December 2019. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  10. "Australia announce new vice-captains". Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  11. "Aaron Finch replaces Tim Paine as Australia ODI captain". Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  12. "Bancroft, Burns named in Australia Test squad". Cricket Australia. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  13. Media, P. A. (27 July 2019). "Ben Stokes named vice-captain as Jofra Archer makes England's Ashes squad". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  14. "Balbirnie appointed Ireland T20I captain".
  15. "Azhar Ali appointed Test and Babar Azam T20I captain". Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  16. "Nortje, Second and Muthusamy part of South Africa squads to India". ESPN Cricinfo. 13 August 2019. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  17. "CSA name Nortje, Muthusamy and Second as new Test caps". Cricket South Africa. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  18. J, Lin (5 February 2019). "Dimuth Karunaratne appointed as the Stand-In Captain for series against South Africa". The Sunday Reader - Sri Lankan News. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  19. "West Indies name ODI and T20 squad for India tour".
  20. "Hamilton Masakadza to lead Zimbabwe in all three formats through 2019-20". ESPNcricinfo. 19 February 2019. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  21. "Schedule announced for Afghanistan and Zimbabwe's visit to Bangladesh". International Cricket Council. 7 August 2019. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
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