5 Risky Yet Brilliant Captaincy Picks

FPL 2022-23
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It is conventional wisdom in cricket that potential leaders need to be groomed under the existing leader. A player is earmarked for captaincy very early in his playing days. The classic example of a captain groomed for leadership was Michael Clarke. He remained Ricky Ponting’s understudy for a considerable period of time. 

The mentor-mentee relationship:

It was a similar case with Virat Kohli. The U-19 World Cup-winning skipper was touted to take over from MS Dhoni once he established himself in the team. But there are few leaders who were picked out from nowhere to lead the side. These decisions proved to be masterstrokes eventually.

We look at 5 such risky yet brilliant captaincy picks:

#5 Darren Sammy

West Indies cricket was in a free fall post the mid-90s. The side had not won a single World Cup post-1979. They did win the Champions Trophy in 2004 but that was more surprise than conviction. The side wasn’t devoid of talent but they lacked a unifying force. It was herein where they needed someone to stir up the proud Caribbean legacy.

Darren Sammy was appointed as the captain more on faith than data. He is the only leader to have won two T20 World Cup titles in world cricket. Sammy might not have been the best batter or bowler of the side. But he was a fine leader of his troops.

#4 Ricky Ponting 

He didn’t have the best possible start to his International career. Ricky Ponting had a lot of off-field issues during the early stages of his playing days. The then captain, Steve Waugh had to personally talk to Ponting to get him back on track. Shane Warne was the vice-captain when Waugh led the side. It was believed that someone like Warne or Adam Gilchrist will take over once Waugh retires. But the selectors showed immense faith in Ponting. There was little that Ponting’s Australia didn’t end up achieving.

#3 Eoin Morgan 

He was appointed the captain of the limited-overs side just months before the 2015 ODI World Cup. England failed to qualify even for the quarterfinals in the 2015 ODI World Cup. It marked the lowest point in England’s cricketing history. The ECB could have very easily quashed Eoin Morgan’s captaincy.

But the selectors were keen to continue with Morgan’s leadership. England scaled new heights under his captaincy. They went on to win their maiden ODI World Cup win in 2019. Morgan’s biggest legacy though is his approach that revolutionized world cricket.

#2 Graeme Smith 

South Africa suffered a shock first-round exit in their home World Cup in 2003. Shaun Pollock quit the captaincy post the debacle. The South African selectors punted big time on a 22-year-old southpaw to lead the side. His name was Graeme Smith. What appeared a rookie error turned out to be one of the biggest masterstrokes of the modern game.

Smith admirably led the side across formats. He tasted great success, especially with the red ball side. Smith captained the most number of Tests (117) with an impressive success rate. 

#1 MS Dhoni

It was he who inspired small-town India to dream big. The man from Ranchi went on to become the most recognizable face of the game. MS Dhoni was never seen as a leader during his early stint with the team. He was seen as a swashbuckler who played to the gallery. Post India’s ignominious exit from the 2007 ODI World Cup, the senior players decided to give the T20 World Cup scheduled later in that year a miss.

It was touted that somebody like Yuvraj Singh or Virender Sehwag would lead the side. But the captaincy mantle was handed over to Dhoni. The rest as they say is history. Dhoni won all possible cricketing titles within 6 years of his leadership. He was the phenomenon that drove not just Indian cricket but world cricket at large during his reign.

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