Captain's Corner: Rating the last 5 Australian skippers
Captaincy has always been a huge point of discussion in world cricket. Unlike in football, a skipper in cricket has a huge role to play and several important decisions to make during the game.
When it comes to skippering the most successful Test nation in cricket, Australia, the stakes are high. Not many have escaped the wrath of the cruel Australian media and public. But a few have also earned their unabashed support during their tenure as captain of the Australian cricket team.
Earning a baggy green cap is in itself a high point in the life of a cricketer. However, going on to helm the country in a sport that they pride on is even more challenging.
Australia have had a stream of charming, ruthless, bold and flamboyant skippers. Starting from the greatest ever Sir Donald Bradman to the Allan Border era, the Steve Waugh reign and Ricky Ponting's golden team of the early 20th century, Australian cricket has enjoyed under some naturally gifted leaders.
They have dominated Test cricket for long periods of time and won three consecutive World Cups in ODIs from 1999-2007. And with such a rich history in world cricket, it is difficult to state if it was the shrewd captaincy skills or the highly skilled players that were responsible for the success of the team.
Here is an attempt to rate some of the recent Australian skippers based on their win/loss margins in different formats, style of captaincy and handling of the team.
#5 Steven Smith – 5/10
It might be a tad too early to judge the tactical nous and brilliance of Steven Smith. The batsman with the highest average in Tests since Sir Donald Bradman, Steven Smith has come of age since first donning the whites as a spinner.
While he is pretty new to captaincy still, his fielding placements, bowling changes and brilliance with the bat suggests that he could be a fine skipper in the long run. But he could tone down his aggression a bit and show some positive intent to his mates in the field.
Stats: Steve Smith is only 22 Tests old as captain. He has won 12, lost six and drawn four of them with a W/L ratio of 2.0.In ODIs, Smith has won 23 of the 38 games with a W/L ratio of 1.642. He is also the present T20I skipper with eight games under his belt in which he has four wins and four losses from these.
High point: A 2-0 series win in New Zealand in February, 2016, saw Steve Smith getting a hang of the leadership and learning to combine it with run scoring. He played a pivotal role with the bat as well in the series making a hundred and two half-centuries.
Low point: The 'brain fade' saga at Bangalore in the second Test against India put Steve Smith in a bad light with several former players, including Michael Clarke, the man he succeeded, criticising him.
Verdict: Smith is still in the starting phase of his captaincy and judging him now would be foolhardy. His records with the bat suggest that his form hasn't taken a dip due to captaincy. But series whitewashes in Sri Lanka (Tests 3-0) and South Africa (ODIs 5-0) have made him a point of discussion.
Smith will have to grow into his captaincy and his tactical awareness and captaincy skills seem to be in the right place. Unlike his predecessors, he isn't blessed with a group bursting with talent and will have to strive to make this group a winning one.