What's your first job as new captain? | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

What's your first job as new captain?

Last night I took the job of captain of my club second team.

It's been a few years since I was in charge of a side, and what instantly sprung to mind was: What should I do first?

As new captain, a hundred ideas flash through your brain as you try to work out how to get the best from your inherited team.

Of course there are the practicalities to consider, like gathering player phone numbers for the inevitable last minute scrabble to get eleven players, making sure travel arrangements are clear, working out who is making the teas and putting on the covers on a Friday night: The normal rhythm of a club side.

But none of those things are the first job.

Here are the things I considered, I would love to hear yours if you have just been made captain of your club or school team:

Talk to the other captains

In a club structure there is always movement between teams. Most teams will have a core of ever-presents and some fringe players (either a bit too good, and able to move up or not quite good enough, and making up the numbers).

This means talking to the other captains in your club is vital to your success.

You need to know their opinions of players so you know how often your star batsman might be pinched by a higher grade team, for example.

Other captains can also give you an insight into the personality of players. I have only played for my club for a few seasons because I moved. The other captains have been playing since they were teenagers and so know a lot more about the make-up of the cricketers in the club.

Set your philosophy

From Test sides to occasional friendly pub teams, every side has a philosophy of some kind.

It's just an unspoken atmosphere in most cases, but it's always there.

And the captain has the greatest influence over it by the tone he or she sets.

That's not to say you can suddenly turn your village team into a well oiled professional outfit, but you can find out what the current unspoken philosophy is and try to influence it positively.

I'm lucky because the side I am inheriting has a philosophy close to my own anyway. We have a positive supportive team spirit, plenty of lively discussion and always look to control the game rather than letting it control us.

You may not be so lucky, but there are always tweaks you can make with the support of the team.

In my case I'll be looking to improve our consistency, foster an even greater team mentality and improve our run rate (so we can declare more aggressively).

Of course, this is just a paper exercise until the rest of the team back your plans, which led me to my last thought.

Find out how your players tick

As captain you want the side to be moulded to your aims, but to do that you need to know your player's personalities and aims.

A serious player who trains hard and plans ahead will need very different handling from the guy who turns up five minutes before play and warms up by smoking a cigarette.

Ideally, you will have a good idea who your core players are at least (if not your whole team). Most captains have a broad idea about the personality of those players too. So it's up to you to think how you will deal with each one.

As a way of helping you think this through, try the following exercise:

  • Write down your important players names in a list.
  • Write down what role you think suits them best in the team, for example: opening batsman, strike bowler, finisher or mops up the tail.
  • Write down what you think is the best way to get a good performance from them. Examples might be: public praise, a quiet word of thanks, being ignored, being wound up, being told what to do or being asked for advice.

Chances are no two players will need the same approach. Keep this in mind when you are trying to fit these players into their roles in the middle and motivate them to do better.

Use this as a template from which to build a profile of each player in your head. Of course, it's just a paper exercise, but it may help clarfiy your thoughts on your player.

It will take some trial and error to work out what influences them most, but there are also some tricks that work for everyone in building up trust and influence in your job as captain.

And for me, that is the first job of any new captain: To gain respect and trust.

In fact, its so important to your success that you can never take your eye off doing it. It's the first and ongoing job because if you don't have respect and trust nobody will listen to you and you can't make your tactics work.

So that's what I'll be trying to do, what about you?

image credit: Gary_T_W



Want to get off to the best possible start as a new captain? Learn from the best with the interactive online course Cricket Captaincy by Mike Brearley.



Broadcast Your Cricket Matches!

Ever wanted your skills to be shown to the world? PV/MATCH is the revolutionary product for cricket clubs and schools to stream matches, upload HD highlights instantly to Twitter and Facebook and make you a hero!

PV/MATCH let's you score the game, record video of each ball, share it and use the outcomes to take to training and improve you further.

Click here for details.


First of all, well done David on making it as your 2nd team captain. I'm sure you'l do well and I'm sure everyone else in your side will support you. I wouldn't mind playing under your captaincy but then the chances are I wouldn't be behind the stumps Sticking out tongue
Another good article, I like the "find out how your players tick" section. I'm sure to give that a go. Target indivuals more often like this to motavate my team.
I've thought about using a batting, bowling and fielding captains for my under 16's team this year. I'm a wicketkeeper and opening batsman so that ontop of the captaincy is a high workload. I think this didn't help my run scoring as I had twice the average when I was playing for last years under 16's. Doesn't help that I don't have much of a squad to work with though. There is quite a bit of pressure on the top 6 to all score runs and espically me as after that our team is made of the under 14's.
Do you think sharing the team responabilties around amoungst the senior players will help my game and the team's?

Thanks Jack, I'm quite lucky as the team are strong and well bonded so it's just a matter of keeping the winning atmosphere going.

"How players tick" is a very complex area, but I will see what I can come up with in an article (or series of articles).

As to fielding captains and the like, I think it's very useful if you can hand some responsibility over to senior players. They need to be trusted to do broadly what you agree with of course, but good sides do this informally anyway, it's the "team of captains" idea. Players motivate each other, bowlers know what fields, line and length work best for them and the conditions, batsmen make decisions out in the middle without communication from the captain and fielders decide for themselves where to move to be in the optimal position.

But again the key for me is trust, you must be able to trust them to do it or it becomes chaos.