Top 10 most successful ODI captains: Team games are played by a set of people but they are all a herd unless guided by a leader, a captain to lead them to the right direction. Unlike Football and other major sports where the coach coins the strategy and the captain is just for the sake, whereas in cricket we see the captain taking all the major decisions. Right from the selection to the team plan, batting order, field placements everything is done by this guy and thus we give them lot more credit and criticism than in any other sport.
Great teams have great leaders which make things happen. We have often seen an ordinary bunch pack a punch heavier than their weight; this is impossible without the inspiration and motivation from someone who they hold at high regards and in most cases it is the Captain of the side. So here we have the top 10 most successful ODI captains.
As it is tough to determine a parameter for success here we have decided to rank them in for the most number of victories the team has had under them in ODI cricket.
10 – Imran Khan (Pakistan) 75 Wins
Imran Khan is one of the best captains that Pakistan has had in the history of their cricket. A true performer himself, possessed all-round abilities and if Pakistan cricket fans have one guy to credit for the world cup win they had in 1992 it has to be Imran. Even today a list of all-time best all-rounders is incomplete without Imran Khan featuring into it. The cricketer turned Politician has captained the team in 139 matches off which they won 75. His tenure at the job spanned for around 10 years.
9 – Saurav Ganguly (India) 76 Wins
Aggressive in his approach and style of captaincy Sourav Ganguly is the man who taught India the art of winning matches outside the subcontinent. They always did well and won at home, but it took a great team with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble and Sourav himself to change their fortunes overseas. He would have qualms even today of having missed winning the world cup finals against Australia in 2003. But in the 147 matches he led and 76 wins that India recorded under him he taught them more than what we see outside.
8 – Arjuna Ranatunga (Sri Lanka) 89 Wins
Sri Lankan cricket team remains to be in the fray of contenders every time that the Asian giants head into the tournament, for the rich cricketing talent and culture they possess. But it took a special guy (Arujuna Ranatunga) and his team to take Sri Lanka to the high of a world cup championship. He did so in 1996 and is unmatched by any following team from the country till date. In all he held the captains post for 193 games and won 89 of those, his span was of around 11 years during 1988-99.
7 – Mohammad Azharuddin (India) 90 Wins
Mohammad Azharuddin bough with him the Hyderabadi elegance, wristyness and class, from a batsman escalated to skipper of the team, Azhar managed the job well, as the Indian team still had elder legends in there and with really young and talented pool of cricketers making an entry one of them of course being Sachin Tendulkar. His cricketing career was tainted as he was alleged for involvement in match fixing scam which also involved Hansie Cronje but Azhar has emerged clean out of it and thus regained his respect to an extent. Azharuddin who is one of the most successful captains that India have had led his team in 174 matches among which they emerged victorious in 90.
6 – Graeme Smith (South Africa) 92 Wins
Looking into the history of South African cricket one surely gets to know that they have always been a competitive, strong team but if we have to pin down on one name that changed the work culture and ethics, to an extent also the fortune of the team it has to be Graeme Smith. Taking over captaincy when their cricket was surrounded by clouds of match fixing he erased it all with hard work and team spirit. South Africa reined as ODI and test champions under Smith as he won them 92 matches from the total of 150 matches he played as captain of the team.
5 – Stephen Fleming (New Zealand) – 98 Wins
Stephen Fleming was one of the best guys to skipper a kiwi team and was not only a really good batsman but also a real leader in the pack. Apart from the 98 victories his team registered under him in 218 ODI’s which is the second most number of matches as a captain. Fleming also has 8037 runs registered to his name in ODI cricket. The man took New Zealand to the semi-finals of the World Cup 2007 and when the team could advance no further called it a day not only from captaincy but retired from ODI cricket as well.
4 – Hansie Cronje (South Africa) 99 Wins
On personal responsibility I would not like to elaborate much about this man Wessel Johannes Hansir Cronje. He was held guilty for being involved in a match fixing scandal by the King commission following which Cronje’s involvement from any form of cricket as a player or a coach was banned for life. Soon after it he died in an airplane crash, this is how his story ended. He played 138 matches as the captain of the team of which they won 99, lost 35 and Cronje maintained the second highest win percentage at 73.70%.
3 – MS Dhoni (India) – 101* Wins
Indian cricket has many immortal names in its records, but apart from Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar if there have to be two other names owning the tags of being the most celebrated cricketers from the country it is tough not to know them as Kapil Dev and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. From a small town lad with long locks, rash shots, out and out aggressive attitude to Captain Cool he has made quite a transformation. So has Indian cricket, as his predecessors taught the team to fight hard and win, he led his men to calmness, instilled the confidence which ensured them superior control over the nerves than their opponents and this is what the success mantra was. MS Dhoni in his span as an Indian captain has achieved what no one else could, and is the most successful Indian captain in all the formats. Counting the number of wins he has, it takes us to 101* from 181* games and is the only captain in the list who is still active and leading the side. So a switch over is on the cards I assume.
2 – Alan Border (Australia) 107 Wins
Alan Border’s tenure as the skipper of Australian cricket team was an era in itself and a golden one. He regrouped the XI men and formed a phenomenon which redefined the way Australia played their cricket and it is that ‘winning culture’ that we still see the flames burning in every Aussie cricketer till the last moment he is on a cricket field. Alan Border won the first ever world cup for the country in 1987 which they have followed up with another three titles. In his career as skipper of the team Alan played 178 matches and won in 107 of those.
1 – Ricky Ponting (Australia) 165 Wins
If you have started following cricket in the late 90’s or early 2000’s you must not have seen a team and a captain better than Ricky Ponting and his Australian team. His team not only won, they thrashed the opponents, the world would not discuss which is the best team, rather look out for the one which could beat Ricky’s. Australia saw players become legends and trophies come in lots, two world cups that he won are the most by a captain to say the least. Ricky continues to be the most successful captain in ODI cricket history even in the year 2015. He has the best win percentage at 76.14 with 165 wins in 230 which is also the most number of matches a player has captained a team in ODI cricket.
(Records/Stats Updated Till 24th June 2015)