Sometimes you have to lose the battle, to win the war. In cricket, you have to sacrifice your own glory, for the team’s cause. Sunil Gavaskar, the little master, once crawled to a score of 36 runs of 174 balls with just a solitary boundary in an ODI run-chase against England in the 1975 World Cup.
He countered the critics by saying that the wicket was difficult to bat on; now that is, in modest terms, some absolute rubbish. Contradicting to Gavaskar’s statements, England on the same pitch, batting first, scored 334, and Deniss Amiss scored 137 off 147 balls. Gavaskar’s inning is often disparaged as a selfish and a submissive approach from the opener.
Cricket is a team game; there should not be an ‘I’ in the team. While individual performances strengthen the position of the team, but not at a cost of the same becoming a liability. It’s even more upsetting when the captain of the team plays an inning for himself putting his team after his own individual glory or asks his teammate to do any heinous act–such as the infamous incident of Greg Chappell asking Trevor Chappell to bowl underarm.
Here we look at 5 such selfish captains and their acts:
1. Sir Geoffrey Boycott
Sir Geoffrey Boycott was an image of stoic defiance and solid technique. He was a figure of a pillar in the English batting line-up for over 15 years. He was an iconic batsman, but Sir Boycott was alleged for being selfish and an unfriendly character, as a player and a captain, and as a person as well.
Boycott wasn’t liked amongst his teammates. Journalist, Ian Wooldridge commented that “Boycott, in short, walks alone”, and writer John Arlott wrote that Boycott had a “lonely” career, highlighting the atmosphere around Boycott. Scathing remarks from journalists such as, “obsessed with his own success”, and “self-absorption”, is Boycott’s captaincy tenure epitomized as.
Captaining Yorkshire, Boycott had a dispute with Brian Close- who Boycott replaced as the captain. In fact, half of the votes from the committee for deciding the captaincy were against Boycott. He created conflicts between the players of his team, and few players even left the team because of their differences with Boycott. With all the disagreements in the team, especially against their skipper, Yorkshire had some unsuccessful years under Boycott, failing to win even a single season in eight years.
Towards the end of Boycott’s captaincy tenure, few Members of the Yorkshire committee blatantly stated on the BBC radio that a change in the captaincy was needed. He scored runs at an average of 100 in his first year as a captain, but it was citied that his personal hunger for runs was harming the team as a whole. His form slipped, and he refused to play for England from 1974 to 1977; it is believed because of the appointment of Mike Denness and then Tony Greig as captain.
He had problems in the national team as well for his self-centred batting. In 1967, he scored an unbeaten 246 in 555 balls against India, but was dropped for his “selfish batting”, as said by the selectors. There were also rumors that the coach has told other batters to run him out.
Boycott was stripped of the captaincy of Yorkshire – the club remained in the lower part of the points table – and was handed over to John Hampshire. Boycott responded with bitter criticism of the club and its members on a BBC chat show. He has turned to commentary and has been a controversial figure in the new role as a commentator as well for his overbearing nature.
2. Shahid Afridi
As big a superstar, as big a loved celebrity in Pakistan, as big a cricketing brand Shahid Afridi was, he has had as big a controversial career. Amongst the latest news, last year Imran Farhat, former Pakistani batsman, fumed out at Afridi after the latter revealed in his autobiography that he was not 16, but 20 years old at the time of his debut. Farhat also said Afridi was a selfish player and captain and is responsible for ruining many careers for his own benefit.
A few months ago, former Pakistani spinner, Danish Kaneria alleged Afridi for discrimination and treated him unfairly, because Kaneria is a Hindu. In his autobiography, Game Changer, Afridi has criticized legendary batsman Javed Miandad and Waqar Younis about having issues with former legends.
After the 2011 World Cup, Pakistan toured West Indies and lost the T20I and ODI series. Coach, Waqar Younis had altercations with the all-rounder, and was reported stating, “as a captain he is very immature, has poor discipline, lacks a gameplan and is unwilling to listen to others’ opinions or advice”.
As a skipper, he was often accused of picking players he liked personally and leaving out the deserving ones. He has had ego problems within his teammates, Shoaib Akhtar, for one, lashed out at Afridi for leaving the pacer out of the World Cup semifinal against India. He even made numerous retirements and comebacks on the back of his stature and was accused of taking other players’ spot, saying “if the team needs it”, suggesting of his holier-than-thou attitude.
3. Steve Waugh
57 matches, winning 41and just 9 losses- Steve Waugh is one of the best to lead the Australian team. He has also led Australia to the 1999 World Cup victory and captained the Aussies for 15 matches in their streak of a record 16 consecutive Test wins.
But Waugh was also condemned by cricket pundits and especially his teammates for being conceited and egotistical. The rivalry between Shane Warne and the former Australian captain is well and thoroughly documented.
In Warne’s autobiography, No Spin, the leg-spinner has termed Waugh as “the most selfish player I have ever played with”. Warne says that “Tugga” didn’t support him after dropping the spinner in the West Indies series in 1999, and “lost a bit of respect for him”, Warne writes. Warne also stated that Waugh was selfish and cared only about his average being 50, and Waugh completely changed as a person after becoming the captain.
When Waugh was made the captain of the Australian team, Ian Chappell, another former Aussie great, pointed out Waugh’s self-interest saying, “ I think he’s been a selfish cricketer” and said he was the worst captain amongst his successors and predecessors. Waugh ended his career with a Test average of 51 and over 10,000 Test runs, but is accused of not playing for the team and batting for personal records, and to remain not out to better his average, risking the tail-enders.
4. Steve Smith
Amongst batsman to play at least 50 Test matches, Steve Smith’s average of 62.84 is only second to Sir Don Bradman’s unreal 99.94. Started as a leg-spinner, Smith had a phenomenal rise as a batsman- since 2014 he averages 71.91, creating and shattering records for fun match after match. But Smith as in the role of a skipper hasn’t been the finest Australia has had.
Australia under Smith has won 18 out of 34 matches and lost 10. Not only Smith isn’t a good strategical thinker when it comes to captaincy, but he also participated in one of the most disgraceful acts in cricket history.
Yes, we are talking about the Sandpaper-gate scandal in South Africa in 2018. The ‘leadership group’ comprising Smith and David Warner – only a few know who else was involved in it – asked or rather ordered youngster Cameron Bancroft to use the sandpaper on the ball in order to generate more reverse-swing.
Bancroft, who had played only 7 Tests before the game in Cape Town, was caught tampering the ball. It was revealed that Warner was the main instigator of this idea. That Smith allowed Warner to intimidate Bancroft – who would want to obey their superiors to remain in their good books – is itself evidence of his docile character as a leader.
Neither Smith nor Warner did the tampering themselves, they used the youngster as a pawn. Smith is a great Test batsman, however, as a leader of men, as a captain, he seemed impotent that day in South Africa, as exemplified by the fact that he even envisaged this sort of disgraceful act, let alone not to stop it or confront Warner.
5. Brian Lara
It is not often that a batsman is criticized after making a world record score. That ‘not often’ case is of Brian Lara, the Prince of West Indies. Lara broke Matthew Hayden’s record of 380 runs and scored the first-ever Quadruple Test match century, 400 unbeaten – unbeaten is a term which is excessively focussed by Lara’s critics. The record Lara accomplished in 2004, stands till date, but is invariably talked in a hushed tone, sometimes, directly called as a selfish one.
Batting first against England, in a rain-marred game, Lara – who was also the captain of the team – notched up his triple century in 404 balls by the end of the second day. In the rain inflicted game, West Indies were in a commanding position when Lara crossed 300, and he was expected to score quickly in a bid to declare and take 20 English wickets to win the game.
However, instead of accelerating, Lara took his own sweet time and sauntered towards his goals; first breaking Hayden’s record and then reaching the 400 mark. The left-hander notched up his 400th run in 582 deliveries – taking another 178 balls for his last 100 runs – by the evening of day three.
West Indies declared at 751/5. Although Lara gained a lot of applauds for his record innings, by the end of the game, he received plenty of flak. England was bowled out for 285 in their first innings and 422/5 in their second innings, after following on. West Indies bowlers failed to take all 20 England wickets – they were 5 short to win the game, and England took the series 3-0. However great the record is, Lara was and is still criticized for his tedious approach towards the landmark figure.
The then Australian captain, Ricky Ponting, said that Lara batted so long that it may have cost his team a Test win. In 2019, Australia displayed their ruthlessness to win a Test match, when Captain Tim Paine declared Australia’s innings with David Warner on 335 not out on the evening of the second day.
Even with plenty of time left in the game to dismiss Pakistan’s feeble batting order, but with the threat of rain looming around, Paine took the decision to declare, which received an ambiguous response. On a stricter note, comparing the situation of Lara with Warner, yes it was a selfish knock – or rather selfish last 100 runs – from the West Indian skipper.
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
SportsInfo offers cricket, soccer, kabaddi, tennis, badminton, racing, basketball and other sports news, articles, videos, live coverage & live scores, player rankings & team rankings. Also, offers minute details of any match along with live commentary.
- 5 interesting incidents involving Father and Son in cricket
- TV umpires set to officiate front-foot no-balls in international cricket
- Team-wise memorable moments of the decade
- Half-yearly report: Rating ODI Captains of top 10 teams in 2019
- Captains who might lead their respective teams in T20 World Cup 2020