Do the Proteas have too many captains?
The captaincy of the different South African cricket teams is a matter of discussion among Protea supporters at present. At the moment there is a captain for each format of the game. In my opinion, this is one too many. I can live with two captains across the board but to have three is excessive. Each captain brings a different leadership style to the table and it is too disruptive to change back and forth as each competition comes along.
Rather than debate the merits of each individual I would rather discuss captaincy as a whole.
In the modern game it is essential for the captain to be one of the best players in the team. The days are long gone when a captain is in charge purely for his leadership skills. The game is too competitive to carry a player purely on leadership ability. The captain has to contribute match-winning skills in his particular discipline.
A cricket team comprises many diverse personalities. It is of crucial importance that the captain understands this and how to get the best out of his players individually, bearing in mind their different personality traits. In order for the team to function efficiently as a unit, the captain has to forge the individual personalities into a team framework that ultimately creates a positive environment. Not everyone in the team has to like each other but it is the captain’s responsibility to ensure that the group is professional enough to operate as a tight unit under pressure.
The captain is also saddled with a large management team. He has to, as a matter of course, hold the management responsible for their function within the team. The coaching team in particular has to support the captain and provide him with a combination that is one hundred percent prepared for action for every match.
The same applies to selection. Although the captain generally doesn’t have an official vote, he lives or dies by the success of the team so he must ensure that the communication with the panel is such that they understand his needs for every match.
Dealing with the media is part and parcel of being in charge and the captain sets the tone for the rest of the team as far as the style that is adopted in dealing with the press is concerned. An open calm persona in this respect is the best option rather than someone with a laager mentality who sees a threat in every bit of criticism.
Lastly the captain has to have a strong enough personality and a good enough work ethic to lead from the front in everything from training to actual match conditions. The captain can’t expect anyone to do anything that he is not prepared to do.
Do our three captains fit the above criteria? I will leave it up to you to decide.