In Test cricket, every captain has preferred names whom they pick based on the playing conditions. Some players in return, help their captains to attain great success with their performances while few seem to bring the ‘luck factor’ with them and ensure the same. In this article, we look at Test captains and their lucky charm players i.e. captains who never lost a Test match when a certain player is picked in the playing XI. It could be due to the performances of those players or the balance they bring to the team with their inclusion.
Here we look at top five lucky charms of Test cricket with whom their captains never lost a match:
5. Clive Lloyd and Roger Harper – 13 matches:
Roger Harper made his Test debut under Clive Lloyd’s captaincy on their tour of India in 1983/84. The off-spinner got a chance during the time when the pacers were ruling the Caribbean team’s domination in World Cricket. He featured in the 4-match home Test series against Australia in 1984 which was won by West Indies with a score-line of 3-0 after the first game ended in a draw.
It was followed by a 5-0 whitewash over England during their 5-match away series. West Indies won each of the first three matches during the Australian tour in the 1984-85 season which extended their winning streak to 11; the then longest winning streak in Test cricket. Harper didn’t get to play the first two Tests in Brisbane and Perth but featured in Adelaide Test win and a draw at the MCG.
He didn’t play the final Test in Sydney which also turned out to be Lloyd’s final Test as the Caribbean side lost it and brought an end to a 27-match unbeaten streak in the longer format which is still a record. Harper played a total of 13 Tests under Lloyd out of which West Indies won 11 while another two ending in a draw. The off-spinner bagged 32 wickets in those 13 Tests at an average of 28.56.
4. Javed Miandad and Tauseef Ahmed – 14 matches:
Tauseef Ahmed featured in only 34 matches during his Test career that spanned between 1980 and 1993. The off-spinner had to play during a period where Abdul Qadir was the preferred spinner. Iqbal Qasim and Mushtaq Ahmed also had a portion of their career in those 13 years. Even 22 of the 34 Tests played by Tauseef were at home and only six of them came outside Asia.
Tauseef’s best performances came under Javed Miandad’s captaincy as he picked up 46 wickets in 14 Tests at an average of 25.56. Interestingly, Pakistan never lost in those 14 Test matches as they won eight of those while another six ended in a draw. However, all those 14 Tests were played at home only as Pakistan usually fielded at least two spinners in the XI during that time.
Miandad, in general, had a pretty good captaincy record at home as Pakistan won ten out of 22 home Test matches under Javed and lost only once. Tauseef, who made his Test debut under Miandad in 1980, didn’t feature in their home series defeat against West Indies by 0-1. Pakistan lost to the Caribbean team by 156 runs during the Faisalabad Test which was only home Test defeat for Miandad as skipper.
3. Ricky Ponting and Stuart MacGill – 14 matches:
Stuart MacGill is often considered as an unlucky prospect as his career coincided with that of Shane Warne who ended his career as the most prolific wrist spinner in Test history. MacGill was brilliant during the limited matches he got to play as he bagged 208 wickets in only 44 Tests at an average of 29. The leg-spinner got to 200 Test wickets in only 41 matches; one less than what Warne needed. Ricky Ponting took over as the Aussie skipper post Steve Waugh’s retirement in the 2003-04 home season.
MacGill could only play 14 Tests matches under Ricky Ponting in near three and half years. Post Warne’s exit at the start of 2007, MacGill featured in only four Tests until he retired in mid-2008. The leg-spinner missed the 4-match home Test series against India due to an injury and later announced retirement unhappy over his fielding commitments. MacGill bagged 61 wickets at nearly 30 average with three 5-wicket hauls across the 14 Tests under Ponting.
In fact, Australia lost none of those 14 Tests and won as many as 13 games. MacGill’s farewell Test in 2008 was the only time where Captain Ponting failed to win a Test when the leggie was in the XI as it ended in a draw. Ponting led Australia in 43 Test matches until the retirement of the leg-spinner but lost only four Tests. MacGill was not part of the squad during their defeats against India in Mumbai (2004) and Perth (2008). The leggie didn’t get to play even one Test in the 2005 Ashes which Australia lost by 1-2.
2. Sir Donald Bradman and Keith Miller – 15 matches:
Sir Donald Bradman played a total of 15 Test matches until his retirement post the 2nd World War; all of them as a captain only (1946 – 1948). Australia remained unbeaten across those 15 Tests by winning 11 while another four ended in a draw. Bradman’s consistent run was one of the major reasons for the streak as he amassed 1903 runs at an average of 105.72 with help of eight centuries. Only one player barring Bradman himself featured in all those 15 Test matches – Keith Miller.
The all-rounder made his Test debut during this period only. Coincidently, this 15-match streak were the first 15 games of Miller’s 55-match Test career. Miller amassed 753 runs at an average of 44.29 in those 15 Tests with help of a century and also claimed 38 wickets at 22.57 average with a 5-wicket haul. It could be a bit too much to call Miller as a lucky charm in Bradman’s case as Lindsay Hassett, Ray Lindwall, Arthur Morris and Don Tallon played 14 Tests apiece in that 15-match unbeaten streak.
Morris nearly matched Bradman with the bat scoring 1408 runs at 74.1 with help of seven tons. Hassett also averaged 57.29 in those 15 games where he amassed 974 runs with three hundreds. Lindwall bagged 63 wickets at an average under 20 alongside scoring 421 runs at 26.31 including a century. Wicketkeeper Tallon affected 46 dismissals (39 catches and 7 stumpings) in those 14 Tests going along with the 335 runs.
1. Mohammad Azharuddin and Rajesh Chauhan – 17 matches:
Rajesh Chauhan featured in a total of 21 Test matches between 1993 and 1998; a period during which the rise of Anil Kumble was witnessed. Hence, Rajesh never got to play as a primary spinner and the chances he got were quite limited due to his below-average performances. The off-spinner managed to pick 47 wickets at a poor strike rate of 101 in his 21-match Test career. Anil Kumble accounted for 103 wickets at an average below 25 in those 21 Tests.
Even Venkatapathy Raju took 61 wickets in the 14 Tests he played alongside Rajesh. Irrespective of his performances with the ball, the Ranchi-born seemed to have brought luck factor to the Indian side as the team never lost a Test with Chauhan was in the playing XI. During the 1990s, India managed to win only one Test away from – The 1993 Colombo Test vs Sri Lanka. Rajesh was part of all three matches of the 1993 Sri Lanka series which was the only away series he completely played.
Rajesh Chauhan played 17 Tests under Mohammad Azharuddin out of which India won 12 and drew five games. These are the most number of Tests any player featured under a captain without being part of the losing side. At home, the Indian team won 11 out of 13 Tests when Rajesh played under Azhar while another two ended in a draw. The remaining four Tests which Chauhan played were under Sachin Tendulkar; all against Sri Lanka and all the four ended in a draw.
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