Everyone agrees that captaining any cricket team is not easy; but how much can a good captain influence the success of a team?
Not much, according to former West Indies captain Darren Sammy.
In this interview Sammy calls captaincy “overrated” stating that it’s the team that is important in motivating itself to great things.
Yes, it’s true that great captains can have great teams to call upon (especially bowlers), but the dynamic between a captain and the players is crucial if you want to become a consistently good team (it's the topic of a whole book if you want to real delve into the details)
And that is equally true at club level as it is in Test matches.
A good captain understands the motivations of his players and uses these motivations to improve performance.
Sammy used the example of the Fire in Babylon documentary as a way players can self-motivate: and it’s true. But it’s equally true that some would be more influenced than others by the film. Not everyone is stirred up by rallying calls. Some people just need a gentle, quiet word.
As captain you have to know which guy is walking out to bat with the anger of history to motivate him, and which one needs something a little more immediate and task-focused. YOu know how to get the best from both. And everything in between. You are inspiring to every player. If you do a good job as captain they will keep coming back to play for you.
If you mess it up and don’t meet their needs, they will soon tire and you will be scratching around for players.
The importance of tactics
This ties in nicely to the tactical side of the game.
Ask yourself this about your matches: given the choice would you rather play an exciting, close one every time, or games where your team dominates so much they win easily? For most people it’s the former. Winning all the time gets just as dull as losing all the time (I know I have been in teams where both has happened), but you never tire of games going to the last ball.
A tactically excellent captain has the power to control the game.
Think of the alternative: dull captaincy, dull cricket and fewer and fewer players interested in having a game for you.
A good captain also has the ability to change games themselves. Not always with flashy headline-grabbing performances, but by giving the star players the space to perform. For example, a captain can bat lower down the order in case aof a collapse to hold up an end while the star batsman scores a brilliant hundred. The star gets the credit and also credits the captain with allowing them to do it. They become more loyal and more ready to keep you at the top because you are getting the best from them.
So for Sammy, and all captains at all levels, I have this message: No matter what the measure of success (wins, or giving everyone a game, or both) captaincy can never be rated highly enough. A good captain is crucial to a team because we are all individuals and someone needs to understand us.