Graeme Smith (left) holds the record for most Test matches as captain, as well as most Test wins.[1] Steve Waugh (right) is the most successful Test captain, with a winning ratio of 72%.[2]
Some countries opt for a split captaincy, with different captains for different formats to manage workload. Tim Southee (left) captains New Zealand in Tests, while Kane Williamson (right) leads the team in ODIs and T20Is.

The captain of a cricket team, often referred to as the skipper,[3] is the appointed leader, having several additional roles and responsibilities over and above those of the other players. As in other sports, the captain is usually experienced and has good communication skills, and is likely to be one of the most regular members of the team, as the captain is responsible for the team selection. Before the game the captains toss for innings. During the match the captain decides the team's batting order, who will bowl each over, and where each fielder will be positioned. While the captain has the final say, decisions are often collaborative. A captain's knowledge of the complexities of cricket strategy and tactics, and shrewdness in the field, may contribute significantly to the team's success.

Due to the smaller coaching/management role played out by support staff, as well as the need for greater on-field decision-making, the captain of a cricket team typically shoulders more responsibility for results than team captains in other sports.[4]

Captain's responsibilities

During a match

The toss

Starting from team selection and then toss Before the start of a match the home captain tosses a coin and the away captain calls heads or tails. The captain who wins the toss is given the choice of whether to bat or bowl first.[4] The decision usually depends on the condition of the pitch and whether it is likely to deteriorate, the weather conditions and the weather forecast.

The decision also depends on the relative strengths of the team's batting and bowling. For instance in Test cricket, a side with only fast bowlers may choose to bowl first to try to take advantage of any early moisture in the pitch, knowing that it will be harder to take wickets later in the match. Similarly a side with a weak opening batting pair may choose to bowl first in order to protect their batsmen.[5]

Fielding positions

The captain decides where the fielders will stand, in consultation with the bowler and sometimes other senior players. The fielding positions will usually be dictated by the type of bowler, the batsman's batting style, and the captain's assessment of the state of the match (and hence whether to set an attacking or a defensive field).[4]


The captain decides when each bowler will bowl. If a batsman is seeking to dominate the current bowler, the captain may ask someone else to bowl; alternatively, keeping the bowler on may be deemed the best chance of getting the batsman out or restricting the scoring rate. If the regular bowlers are not achieving the desired results, the captain may decide to use non-regular bowlers to attempt to unsettle the batsmen. The captain may also change the bowlers around to introduce variation, and to prevent the batsmen getting "set".[4]

In limited overs cricket the captain additionally has to make certain that bowlers bowl no more than their allotted maximum number of overs, and that experienced bowlers are available at the end of the batting side's innings, when the batsmen are usually looking to take risks to attack and score quickly.[4]

In the longer forms of cricket, when a new ball becomes available the captain decides whether to use it, and when given that it can be taken any time after it becomes available.[4]

Batting order

See also: Batting order (cricket)

When the team bats, the captain decides the batting order. In professional cricket the captain usually changes the established batting order only for exceptional reasons, because batsmen tend to specialise in batting at certain positions. However, in certain circumstances it may be in the team's interest to change the batting order. If quick runs are needed, a naturally attacking batsman may be promoted up the order. A player who is 'in form' may be promoted to a higher batting position, at the expense of a player who is 'out of form'.[4]

If a wicket falls near the end of a day's play, especially if the light is failing, or if the bowlers seem particularly confident, the captain may choose to send in a non-specialist batsman, referred to as a nightwatchman. If the nightwatchman does not get out before the end of that day's play then the specialist batsman will have been protected, and will not need to bat until the following day when conditions are likely to have improved. If the nightwatchman does get out, the cost of losing a late wicket will have been minimised, because the specialist batsman is still available to bat.[4]


The captain may declare the team's innings closed at any time, but usually only does so as an attacking ploy, for instance if the captain thinks the team has enough runs to win the match, or if a sudden change in conditions has made it advantageous to bowl rather than bat.[4]


In a two-innings match, if the situation arises the captain decides whether to impose the follow-on.[4]


Fielding captains may withdraw appeals with consent of the umpires.[6] This often occurs in cases of injury, miscommunication, or unsportsmanlike conduct, and is considered to uphold the spirit of cricket and fair play within the game.


The captain is also consulted on whether an injured batsman from the opposing team may use a runner when batting. Permission is usually given if the batsman has become injured during the course of the match, but if the batsman was carrying the injury at the start of the match then the captain may refuse. (As of 2012, runners are not allowed in Test cricket and injured batsmen are required to continue batting with the injury or retire hurt.)[7]

Other duties

As well as decisions taken either immediately before or during a match, captains also often have some responsibility for the good running of the cricket club. For instance, they may decide when the team is to practice, and for how long. In professional cricket the captain often has some say in who will form the squad from which teams are selected, and may also decide how young up-and-coming players are to be encouraged and improved, and how members of the squad who are not regularly selected for first-team matches are to gain match practice.[4]

Prior to July 2015, the captain was responsible for deciding when to take batting and bowling powerplays in limited overs matches.[8]


Vice-captains are sometimes considered the full-time successor to the incumbent captain. Michael Clarke was Australia's vice-captain for three years before succeeding Ricky Ponting as captain in 2011.[9]

The captain may be assisted by a vice-captain or in some instances joint vice-captains. This is particularly useful if the captain is forced to leave the field of play during fielding. Some teams also allocate the vice-captain a more or less formal role in assisting with team selection, discipline, field-setting and so on. Sometimes the role of vice-captain is seen as preparation for the player(s) becoming the captain of the side in future.[10]

Current men's international captains

ICC Full Members

Nation Format Captain Vice-captain(s)
 Afghanistan[11] Test Hashmatullah Shahidi Rahmat Shah
ODI Vacant
T20I Rashid Khan Ibrahim Zadran
 Australia[12][13][14][15] Test Pat Cummins Steve Smith / Travis Head
ODI Mitchell Marsh
T20I Mitchell Marsh Matthew Wade
 Bangladesh[16] Test Shakib Al Hasan Liton Das
ODI Najmul Hossain Shanto
 England[17][18][19] Test Ben Stokes Ollie Pope
ODI Jos Buttler Vacant
 India[20][21][22][23] Test Rohit Sharma Jasprit Bumrah
ODI Hardik Pandya
 Ireland[24] Test Andrew Balbirnie Paul Stirling
ODI Paul Stirling Vacant
 New Zealand[25] Test Tim Southee Tom Latham
ODI Kane Williamson
T20I Mitchell Santner
 Pakistan[26][27][28] Test Shan Masood Vacant
ODI Vacant
T20I Shaheen Shah Afridi Mohammad Rizwan
 South Africa[29][30][31] Test Temba Bavuma Vacant
ODI Aiden Markram
T20I Aiden Markram Vacant
 Sri Lanka[32][33] Test Dhananjaya de Silva Kusal Mendis
ODI Kusal Mendis Charith Asalanka
T20I Wanindu Hasaranga
 West Indies[34][35][36] Test Kraigg Brathwaite Alzarri Joseph
ODI Shai Hope
T20I Rovman Powell Shai Hope
 Zimbabwe[37] Test Craig Ervine Vacant
ODI Sean Williams
T20I Sikandar Raza

Associate Members

Nation Captain Vice-captain
 Argentina Daniel Sutton
 Austria Razmal Shigiwal
 Bahamas Gregory Taylor
 Bahrain Al Amin Shehzad
 Belgium Shaheryar Butt Nemish Mehta
 Belize Kenton Young
 Bermuda Terryn Fray
 Bhutan Jigme Singye
 Botswana Karabo Modise
 Brazil Rashid Bazigar
 Bulgaria Prakash Mishra
 Cameroon Solefack James
 Canada Saad Bin Zafar
 Cayman Islands Ronald Ebanks
 Chile Kamlesh Gupta
 China Jiang Shuyao
 Costa Rica Christopher Prasad
 Cyprus Michalis Kyriacou
 Czech Republic Arun Ashokan
 Denmark Hamid Shah
 Estonia Marko Vaik
 Eswatini Naeem Gull
 Fiji Jone Seuvou
 Finland Nathan Collins
 France Arun Ayyavooraju
 Germany Rishi Pillai
 Ghana Obed Harvey
 Gibraltar Balaji Pai
 Greece Anastasios Manousis
 Guernsey Jamie Nussbaumer
 Hong Kong Nizakat Khan Kinchit Shah
 Hungary Abhijeet Ahuja
 Iran Dad Dahani
 Isle of Man Matthew Ansell
 Israel Herschel Gutman
 Italy Gayashan Munasinghe
 Japan Tatsuro Chino
 Jersey Charles Perchard
 Kenya Shem Ngoche
 Kuwait Mohammad Amin
 Lesotho Samir Patel
 Luxembourg Joost Mees
 Malawi Moazzam Baig
 Malaysia Ahmed Faiz Virandeep Singh
 Maldives Mohamed Mafooz
 Malta Bikram Arora
 Mexico Tarun Sharma
 Mozambique Kaleem Shah
 Namibia Gerhard Erasmus David Wiese
   Nepal Rohit Paudel Vacant
 Netherlands Scott Edwards Vacant
 Nigeria Joshua Ayannaike Dotun Olatunji
 Norway Raza Iqbal
 Oman Zeeshan Maqsood
 Panama Imran Bulbulia
 Papua New Guinea Assad Vala
 Peru Matthew Spry
 Philippines Jonathan Hill
 Portugal Najjam Shahzad
 Qatar Iqbal Hussain Mohammed Rizlan
 Romania Ramesh Satheesan
 Rwanda Clinton Rubagumya
 Samoa Dom Michael
 Saudi Arabia Shoaib Ali
 Scotland Richie Berrington Matthew Cross
 Serbia Aleksa Djorovic
 Seychelles Kaushalkumar Patel
 Sierra Leone Lansana Lamin
 Singapore Amjad Mahboob Aritra Dutta
 South Korea Kyungsik Kim
 Spain Christian Munoz-Mills
 Suriname Shazam Ramjohn
 Sweden Abhijit Venkatesh
 Tanzania Hamisi Abdallah
 Thailand Ryan Raina
 Turkey Recep Ulutuna
 Uganda Frank Nsubuga
 United Arab Emirates Muhammad Waseem
 United States Monank Patel Steven Taylor
 Vanuatu Andrew Mansale

Current women's international captains

ICC Full Members

Nation Format Captain Vice-captain
 Australia Test Alyssa Healy Tahlia McGrath
 Bangladesh Test Nigar Sultana Nahida Akter
 England Test Heather Knight Nat Sciver-Brunt
 India Test Harmanpreet Kaur Smriti Mandhana
 Ireland Test Laura Delany Gaby Lewis
 New Zealand Test Sophie Devine Vacant
 Pakistan Test Nida Dar Fatima Sana
 South Africa Test Suné Luus Vacant
 Sri Lanka Test Chamari Athapaththu Oshadi Ranasinghe
 West Indies Test Hayley Matthews Shemaine Campbelle
 Zimbabwe Test Mary-Anne Musonda Josephine Nkomo

Associate Members

Nation Captain Vice-captain
 Botswana Laura Mophakedi
 Brazil Roberta Moretti Avery
 Chile Jeannette Gonzalez
 China Huang Zhuo
 France Marie Violleau
 Germany Anuradha Doddaballapur Christina Gough
 Hong Kong Kary Chan
 Iran Nasimeh Rahshetaei
 Jersey Rosa Hill
 Kenya Queentor Abel Sharon Juma
 Lesotho Boitumelo Phelenyane
 Malawi Mary Mabvuka
 Mexico Caroline Owen
 Mozambique Fatima Guirrugo
 Namibia Irene van Zyl Yasmeen Khan
   Nepal Rubina Chhetri Indu Barma
 Nigeria Samantha Agazuma
 Papua New Guinea Kaia Arua
 Rwanda Sarah Uwera
 Western Samoa Regina Lili'i
 Sierra Leone Linda Bull
 Singapore Shafina Mahesh
 South Korea Inyeong Oh
 Spain Elspeth Fowler
 Tanzania Fatuma Kibasu
 Thailand Naruemol Chaiwai Nannapat Koncharoenkai
 Uganda Rita Musamali
 United Arab Emirates Chaya Mughal
 United States Sindhu Sriharsha
 Vanuatu Selina Solman

See also


  1. ^ "Records / Test matches / Individual records (captains, players, umpires) / Most matches as captain". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  2. ^ "Records / Test matches / Individual records (captains, players, umpires) / Most matches as captain". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  3. ^ ""skipper" Definitions". Wordnik. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "The Role of the Captain". DangerMouse. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  5. ^ "Numbers Suggest the Toss Has Never Been More Important in Test Cricket". Bleacher Report. 22 February 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Appeals Law | MCC". Retrieved 10 December 2023.
  7. ^ "Runners abolished, ODI and run-out laws tweaked". ESPN Cricinfo. 27 June 2011. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  8. ^ Gollapudi, Nagraj (26 June 2015). "Bowlers benefit from ODI rule changes". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  9. ^ Brettig, Daniel (8 August 2015). "Clarke announces retirement after Ashes". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  10. ^ "Enfield Cricket Club – Captains & Player Responsibilities". Enfield Cricket Club. Archived from the original on 1 February 2015. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  11. ^ "Asghar Afghan sacked as Afghanistan opt for split captaincy". 1 June 2021. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  12. ^ "Cummins confirmed as Test captain, Smith his deputy". Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  13. ^ "Cummins named Australia's ODI captain". Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  14. ^ "Ready to captain Australia as long as long as the team needs me: Mitchell Marsh". India Today. 22 August 2023. Retrieved 17 December 2023.
  15. ^ "Travis Head announcement delights cricket fans in huge Pat Cummins captaincy call". Yahoo! Sports. 14 December 2023. Retrieved 17 December 2023.
  16. ^ "Litton Das to captain Bangladesh in ODIs following Tamim Iqbal's shock retirement". Retrieved 10 July 2023.
  17. ^ "Ben Stokes appointed as England's new Test captain". Retrieved 28 April 2022.
  18. ^ "Buttler confirmed as England's new white-ball captain following Eoin Morgan's retirement". Sky Sports. Retrieved 1 July 2022.
  19. ^ "Ollie Pope confirmed as England's full-time Test vice-captain". The Cricketer. 16 May 2023. Retrieved 17 December 2023.
  20. ^ "Rohit named India's ODI and T20I captain as India announce Test squad for SA tour". International Cricket Council. Retrieved 8 December 2021.
  21. ^ "Rohit announced as India's full-time Test captain". International Cricket Council. Retrieved 19 February 2022.
  22. ^ "No Virat, Rohit Again! Ajit Agarkar's Selection Committee to Continue with Hardi as Captain: Report". 5 July 2023.
  23. ^ "'Still feels like a dream': Suryakumar Yadav on becoming India's new T20I vice-captain". The Times of India. 28 December 2022.
  24. ^ "Balbirnie appointed Ireland T20I captain". 29 November 2019.
  25. ^ "Kane Williamson steps down as New Zealand Test captain". espncricinfo. Retrieved 15 December 2022.
  26. ^ "Babar Azam step down as Pcb captain in all formats. Shan Masood appointed as test captain and Shaheen Shah Afridi as t20 captain : PCB chief executive". The Times of India. 30 November 2020. Retrieved 16 May 2023.
  27. ^ "It 'was unimaginable but dreams do come true', Shadab Khan says after being named Pakistan vice-captain". Batting with Bimal. 19 October 2020. Retrieved 16 May 2023.
  28. ^ "Shaheen Afridi returns to Test side for Sri Lanka tour". 10 January 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2023.
  29. ^ "South Africa name Dean Elgar Test captain and Temba Bavuma ODI and T20I captain". ESPN Cricinfo. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  30. ^ "Bavuma replaces Elgar as Test captain, relinquishes T20 captaincy". ESPN Cricinfo. Retrieved 19 February 2023.
  31. ^ "Aiden Markram announced as Proteas T20 captain, Bavuma remains ODI captain". Cricket Australia. Retrieved 7 March 2023.
  32. ^ "Dhananjaya de Silva named vice-captain in Sri Lanka Test squad". Daily FT. 14 July 2023. Retrieved 31 December 2023.
  33. ^ "Hasaranga named Sri Lanka's T20I skipper, Mendis to lead ODI side". Sportstar. 30 December 2023. Retrieved 31 December 2023.
  34. ^ "Alzarri Joseph named vice-captain as West Indies name squad for England ODIs, Pooran and Holder missing". myKhel. 21 November 2023. Retrieved 25 December 2023.
  35. ^ "Big name returns to West Indies T20I squad to face England". International Cricket Council. 9 December 2023. Retrieved 25 December 2023.
  36. ^ "Alzarri Joseph named vice-captain as West Indies announces 15-man squad for Australia Tests". Cricket Times. 21 December 2023. Retrieved 25 December 2023.
  37. ^ "Zimbabwe name Craig Ervine as limited overs captain; Sean Williams to continue leading in Tests". Cricbuzz. Retrieved 7 March 2022.