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Captaincy

[Role | Qualities | Challenge | Criticisms and Motivation | Handling the team | Match Strategies | Special Person]

Role:

Cricket is one of the games where captaincy is of vital importance. This is because the duration of a cricket match is longer than most other games making it necessary for somebody to plan the strategy to be adopted over a long period of time. There are a variety of skills involved with different players having different capabilities and the captain has to use these effectively to win matches for his team. Besides matches are played in various types of conditions and there has to be a mature experienced person who will decide on the approach to the match under those conditions.

Qualities:

The captain must be a person who has excellent leadership qualities. In the context of cricket, it means that a captain should be able to get the best out of all his players. He must be able to assess the relative skills of his players and ensure that it is used in the best possible manner for the success of the team. He must be able to think fast and employ strategies according to the situation of the match and the conditions. Moreover he must have a thorough knowledge of the laws of the game and the spirit under which it has played over the years. He also has to make a lot of tactical decisions in the long term and the short term. It is his responsibility to build the side from the beginning of the season and ensure that all the players have access to regular practice. He must ensure that all the players get adequate opportunities in the matches throughout the season with the basic principle of merit being given its due. He should make a sound judgement of players' capabilities and their mental outlook and get the best out of them by criticism and encouragement. Other qualities necessary includes tactical abilities like analysing the strengths and weaknesses of his own side and that of the opposition, making the right field placements for his bowlers, shuffling his bowlers effectively, deciding when to declare, etc.

The Challenge:

Captaincy is a great challenge for every cricketer. This id because not only should the captain concentrate on his performance, he must also think about how his team is performing. In this, he has to separate his performance from the rest of the team's and should not allow any failure to distract his mind from thinking about the game. A captain should be unselfish at all times. As a batsman, he must bat in such a way that the position of the team should be of more importance than his performance. He must take it on himself to increase the scoring rate or to rotate the strike. As a bowler, he must take care not to overbowl or underbowl himself. He must have enough confidence in his bowling abilities as well as the abilities of his other bowlers. When fielding, he should concentrate on his fielding as well as keep an eye on the positions of the other fielders. All this requires tremendous character on the part of the captain.

Criticisms And Motivation:

Every team will have players with different abilities and different psychological make-up. Also most of the cricketers go through phases in their career where they may either be depressed or indifferent. At such times it is the duty of the captain to lift the performance of his players by a combination of criticism and motivation. How to deal with a particular player depends on a person's character and attitude in life. While criticizing a player the captain should ensure that it is positive and brings about a change in the player to make him give an extra effort in what he is doing. When players are going through a bad patch or are getting frustrated and desperate, the captain should step in and provide the right comments to motivate and persuade them to keep trying, even when everything seems lost. In this regard, the conduct of team meetings are very important. This is the forum where the captain can communicate to the team in private. It is here that the strategies to be adopted can be discussed and the roles of every player spelt out. At such meetings, the captain must be judicious in criticizing and motivating. Some players are emotional and may be put off by too much criticism and could have a negative effect on their performance. Some other players are happy go lucky and may need a ticking off to get the best out of them. There are also players who value their pride and egos a lot and such players must be egged on to perform better by touching their pride. In short a captain must basically be a man management expert and at the same time a humane and understanding leader.

Handling The Team:

The basic duty when a captain is appointed is to handle the team given to him in the best way possible and ensure consistent success. Generally a team consists of fourteen to fifteen players and the captain must decide on the best combination that will play a given match. For this he has to be impartial and base his decisions on the conditions of the pitch and the strength and weaknesses of the opposition. He should preferably go early to the ground on the morning of the match and judge the conditions prevailing there. If the wicket is grassy and hard, he should consider playing an extra seamer and if the wicket is grassless and dusty, an extra spinner would be the better option. He should also try to analyse the relative strength of the opposition and include a player whom he feels would be useful against them. In judging who should play in the final eleven, he should not be partisan and should take the decision with a clear and unbiased mind, even if he has personal animosity against any player. During the match he should ensure that all players get a fair opportunity to exhibit their abilities, at the same time keeping the success of the team as the first priority. A captain has also the responsibility to see that all his players respect the code of conduct and play in the best spirit of the game. He is answerable for the conduct of all the players in his team and should mediate and solve all contentious issues on the field. He is expected to control the players if they become too enthusiastic or if they get into arguments with the umpires. He is also expected to organise the practice for his team and should ensure that all players practice their skills and improve them. In club cricket, the captain is the one who ensures that the players keep in touch with the game and are not found wanting for lack of practice. He should make a note of the mistakes committed by his players in the previous game and take action to correct them during practice sessions. He should also see that the players get adequate fielding practice and should work on those who are slow in the field. In all he has to be a father figure as well as a schoolteacher, friend, guide and companion.

Match Strategies:

Every captain must plan in advance what the strategy is going to be for that particular match. The basic strategies to be worked out are what your batting line up is going to be, who is going to open the bowling and who will bowl later, what the field placing is going to be for different bowlers and the target number of runs if you are batting first or the target you have to restrict the opposition to when bowling first. As the match is in progress, many other decisions have to be taken, often immediately and it requires quick and calm thinking. In a duration game one of the most important decisions to be taken is when to declare, so as to have a chance to win outright and at the same time not giving an opportunity for the other team to have any chance of winning. For all this the captain has to have a thorough understanding of the capabilities of the players in his team and strive to get the best out of them all the time.

A Special Person:

Overall the Captain is a very special individual and the qualities required for being successful at it, is vested with very few people. One of the most important aspects of captaincy is that he must be willing to learn all the time and must make it a habit to consult the other senior and experienced players for their views. However the captain need not always follow what the others have to say. After getting different opinions, he must analyze what is best for the team and then take a decision. He should never forget that he is the one who is going to be responsible whether the team wins or loses and he must take decisions accordingly. He should develop an excellent rapport with the Manager of the team and the administration and should ensure that the team gets all it wants in terms of equipment and facilities. He must develop respect among the players for his abilities and bring about a situation where every player will literally die for him. He should stand by his players at all times and see to it that their interests are not compromised.