• The place for cricket fans to connect, learn, and share their knowledge of the game
  • The place for cricket fans

Captaincy and Leadership

Recent Activity

The Selection of a Captain is one of the most important and critical decisions that a club can make as the impact and influence is deeply felt across all layers within a team, club and community. A poor process and little thought invites risk and disaster, while a well-considered and inviting manner can establish a foundation for progress and success.

This article How to Help a Captain is the next step as a reference for club leaders to identify the support in so that the decision once made, is key for setting up success.

The methodology and logic around Selecting A Captain – Get it Right was written and published in August 2018 with a focus upon how it should be done with some guidance to deliver the expected and desired standards and outcomes.

Read More
2 months ago

For many years, I’ve had the good fortune of speaking to several University of New South Wales cricketers who played under the leadership of John Rogers.

John was the captain of the UNSW first grade team when they won the first-grade premiership in Sydney Grade Cricket for the first time in 1976–77.

To this day, the players speak so highly of John Rogers. These men are now in their 60s, yet the reverence and esteem they hold for John is wonderful and inspiring.

Since the moment I met John many years ago at a Sydney test match surrounded by four of his UNSW players, I’ve wanted to know more about his captaincy and leadership.

In response to a request, Chris Chapman wrote this about John Rogers:

Read More
3 months ago

Some thoughts on leadership in cricket and how to get the best out of young players follow.

Recently, I've had the pleasure of some interesting discussions with players, Coaches and Captains of Grade Cricket teams about leadership, and in particular how to get the best out of young players.

Serendipitously, the exchange reproduced below between a journalist and former Australian fast bowler and current South Australian Redbacks Coach, Jason Gillespie, came through one of my feeds this week. In his response, Gillespie neatly captures the essence of one of my contentions during those recent discussions, namely that the most important question a young player, or indeed any cricketer, should be answering via their training, preparation and match play is "What does my team need me to do to help us win?"

Read More
4 months ago

My philosophy on captaincy and leadership

• Create a game plan for the team based on the strengths and weaknesses of each player, the opposition players, and the pitch conditions.
• Ensure each player understands their role and buys in to the game plan.
• Be flexible and adjust the plan to respond to game scenarios and conditions.
• Specifically, in the field each batsmen plays each bowler in different ways so I believe a captain should set particular fields for each batsman- usually these are only minor adjustments, for example, squaring up the offside field for a batsman who plays with an open face and hits behind point.
• I also strongly advocate applying pressure on a batsman particularly early in their innings by placing a silly point or short point in their eyeline to stop lunging on front foot to spinners or create hesitancy in playing fast bowlers leading to an edge or false shot.

I’ll give you an example. We were defending about 250 in a 2-day game and the opposition were about 5 for 130 but then had a good partnership. We were bowling tightly and restricting the runs to create pressure on the run rate required hoping for a false shot.

However, it got to the stage the opposition reached about 5 for 200 which meant that if we did not take 5 wickets the game could end up in a draw or a loss.

I made 2 bowling changes and brought in a short point and short leg to apply pressure to the batsmen and create a false shot despite knowing the risk that there were more gaps to score runs.
We got a wicket straight away and then the other established batsmen fell shortly after. We dismissed the tail and achieved a victory.

Read More
4 months ago

Improvised, spontaneous leadership.

For the role of a cricket captain in the U10 team, the responsibility is handed over to a new player each week chosen by the previous captain.

The players work out a sense of fairness between themselves (most are in Grade 2 to 4).

As captain, they handle the batting and bowling order and who gets to be wicketkeeper.

Sometimes, the team list gets a little special, like this one from Tom 😀

Why sport is good, beyond the obvious, in building confidence and social skills.

Read More
5 months ago

It is difficult to nominate my ‘best captain’ because I played with so many really great leaders and I feel each brought something different to the table. Most importantly I always felt they had my best interests at heart and wanted their little ‘leggie’ and the team to do well.

So here are a few of my favourite captains and a brief memory of playing with them that has stayed with me.

Andrew Hilditch would take some time chatting and planning fields with me before the game and was always encouraging. At one point during the season ‘Ditch’ knew he had to drop me for the next round, but rather than wait to call me during the week, he took the time to sit me down and speak to me after the game to explain his reasons for doing so. I can remember his reasons were well thought out and constructive, giving me specific things to work on which I really appreciated.

Read More
5 months ago

Chris Broadby at Glenorchy Cricket Club in Tasmania Premier Cricket was the best captain I played with along with Peter Mancell at Burnie. Both were really good but in different ways.

Chris had a quiet way of leading but always allowed for individuality from his players. His cricket brain was as good as I have seen and always gave the impression he was in control. The leadership qualities that I appreciated most was his calm strength and his game awareness. There were many examples over the years where he was inspirational, but most were based around saving the team in the lower order with the bat and the hard over bowling that invariably produced a needed wicket.
Although both went about the game very differently both Chris and Peter shared similar captaincy characteristics.

Read More
5 months ago

Captaincy is such a massive part of our game, more so than any other sport I can think of.

It’s one thing you recognise pretty quickly when coaching junior teams. You have to prepare alongside your captains and then it’s all over to them on the park. It is not just bowling changes and field placements but lifting energy, reading conditions, getting through the overs in time and being focussed on your own role in the team.

As a player I had some brilliant captains in Australia and Scotland and have also been captain of a number of teams, starting with two Northern NSW Emus tours in the early 1990s.

When I think about the very best captains I played under, who really have had a massive influence on me as a captain and coach, I have to go back to my two captains at City United in Tamworth.

Read More
5 months ago

Rhys Soper - my best captain

It brings a smile to my face thinking about the skippers I played with as they all had different approaches to the game but the one trait, they all had in common was, leadership!

The very first captain I played with in senior cricket was Terry Walters, brother of Australian Test cricketer, Doug Walters.
Terry was a hard-hitting right-hand batsman that I looked up to. I was only 15 when I made by debut playing first grade for Raymond Terrace and Terry made me feel like I belonged.

Terry (TW) knew how to apply pressure better than any other captain I played under. He was very particular with field positions and would not start until everyone was EXACTLY where he wanted them.

His leadership skills were second to none with everyone in the team knowing their roles and were kept accountable.
Another captain I loved playing under was Todd (Soupie) Campbell (pictured). I grew up playing with Soupie and have the honour of calling him a great mate still to this day. The challenge for Soupie was the team he captained (Hamilton Wickham) was full of big personalities. Most of the team grew up playing cricket with one another at an early age and we were and still are all great mates.

The other challenge for him was that the team was extremely successful in the Newcastle competition winning multiple premierships, Tom Locker Cups and SCG Cups. But year after year the fire was there to keep getting the most of each player to do it again and again.

Soupie in my mind was a great leader. He was one of the boys but also had a good head on his shoulders that kept everyone in line and focused on the job at hand. Could win a toss as well!

Played with many more captains including the NSW skipper at the time, Phil Emery. Had the privilege of playing a game with Mark Taylor and would love to have played more with him as I could see the respect he had with the group. Anyway, thanks again as it was great to reminisce thinking of great times with great leaders.

Read More
5 months ago

I was fortunate to play under some terrific captains at representative and grade level, including Steve Waugh, Greg Dyer, Geoff Lawson, Phil Emery, Michael Cant, Darren Tucker, Marty Haywood, and others. Great as they were, however, there was none was better than Steve Day, at Gordon District Cricket Club.

Steve was a magnificent captain, and a great bloke. By the time he joined us in 1985, he had already successfully captained the NSW U19s and Northern Districts 2nd Grade (where, as a 21-year-old, he led a side with much older players to a Premiership).

Steve read the game superbly, was calm under pressure, tactically excellent, decisive, and – above all – understood and related to EVERY one of his players, both on and off the field.

Read More
5 months ago

As a captain, I believe the following themes can help build a successful team.

• Everyone must think and be sharp to contribute to planning and decisions.
• Anyone can come up with a great idea that can be implemented.
• The captain must lead by performance, particularly when it's darkest – lead the team to a positive outcome. If you are not out, chasing a total, don't leave it to someone else.
• Physically work hard on the skills (especially fielding, Steve Rixon was a terrific example).
• Read the opposition batsmen - if they are tentative, attack and crowd them. If they are aggressive, catching positions are deeper, often. Read how the batsman is likely to want to play your bowler.
• You must be able to bowl the opposition out. Tactically, find a way, don’t give up.
For example, on flat slow Hobart decks, Dave Gilbert's third slip would move to third man because that was the easy shot. Rod Tucker would bowl one ball each over or so, wide down legside, hoping for a cheap catch.
• For every problem, the team and the captain have to provide at least one solution, if not move to plans B and C.
• Team success is everything - egos need massaging, but not at the expense of the team's success. Play that very tough. “I was nasty but only when we needed to be”.
• Establish in the minds of the players why their team is special, historic, deserving, belonging to a bigger cultural picture. Really, what is the team trying to achieve, and for what reasons?

I hope the information is helpful, best of luck to all

Read More
5 months ago

Mark Van Epen – my best captain

The best captain I played under was Keith Stimson at Balmain.

He was captain of the 3rd grade team at around 50 years of age. He played many years of first grade as a successful left hand bat and captained the 1st grade team for a number of seasons leading them to the 1st grade premiership in 1967/68. His oozed experience on the field and in the dressing shed.

He was always calm and read the game well, knowing when to attack, when to defend and when to try something different. He had the respect of the players through example and knew how to get the best out of his players.

Keith’s two best leadership qualities were reading the situation of the game and man management.

One specific example of his leadership was in a game against Uni of NSW in which we had 6 overs to get 55 runs to win outright. I wasn’t confident we could do it, but Keith was always positive and looking for a way to win.

I was an opening batsman and Keith batted 6. Keith said, “Mark you and I are opening, and we are going to get these runs”. After 5 and half overs we got the runs at 0-56, I was 5 not out and Keith was 51 not out.

Keith was a life member of the Balmain District Cricket Club and the new Sydney Cricket Club. He passed away in 2018, aged 92.

Read More
5 months ago

For a range of reasons, Jim Dixon from University of New South Wales Cricket Club was the best skipper I played with.

Whilst I didn’t play with him when he as the first-grade captain I did get to know him as a person who engaged with and led the whole club from firsts to 6th Grade and the clubs women’s teams.

In doing so he was always willing to provide both technical and tactical advice, as well as some high-quality mentoring of young players, whilst maintaining a good balance between seriousness and (usually off field) larrikinism.

When he decided to retire from 1st Grade, he made the very valuable club contribution of staying on as a player to skipper or just fit in with our lower grades - whatever the club required.

Read More
5 months ago

The great man, Warren Saunders, gave me many great ideas in regard to captaincy, but the 2 mentioned below are ones that I never forgot and have passed these ideas onto other captains along the way.

1. At the start of a season, set your team a target for the number of wins that you need to have to achieve your goal of making the semi-finals or possibly the top 3-4 positions on the ladder. For the sake of argue, let's say 10 wins out of 15 games. In this way when you have a loss, it's not the end of the world, you simply need to refocus on the winning mentality to get back on the road that you have set out. I think this attitude helps sides not slide into self-doubt and lack of confidence. This also creates the mentality of always going for a win rather than having a fear of losing.

2. At the start of a season address all your players together. Explain your expectations for the season but particularly point out that you don't want to hear any whinging or complaints 2nd hand through someone's teammate, or parent or whoever. If you have a grievance, bring it directly to the captain as he is the only one who can fix it. If a complaint arrives 2nd hand it will be viewed very badly.

Read More
5 months ago

The role of a cricket captain can be defined in many ways and can vary from captain to captain.

From my perspective, the role of a captain is threefold.

Firstly, the captain needs to ensure their own performances are worthy of being selected for the team. Don’t take it for granted; your place in the team is secure just because of the captaincy. You’re a player first, and depending on your skills, you need to be scoring runs, taking wickets, wicket keeping or fielding well, and making a valuable contribution to the team.

Secondly, it’s part of a captain’s role to help each player on the team become a better player.

Some cricket clubs have the good fortune of a club coach and perhaps a team of coaches. Many don’t.

If a club has a coaching structure in place, captains need to work very closely with the coaches to identify and communicate with the players on how they can individually improve.

Captains should never abdicate all responsibility to the coaches because, as captain, you’re the one out on the field with the players, and they’ll be looking for your support in the heat of the battle.

If a player or players aren’t performing, ask yourself why and what you can do to help the player. A good captain doesn’t take the easy option of just dropping the player from the team.

When was the last time you communicated with all your players outside of a training session or game day?

If it’s a technical issue within their game, share your thoughts with the coaches.

If it’s not a technical issue, take the time to show you care. Ask questions and talk to them about life outside of cricket.

You never know how a conversation or a quiet word of encouragement can help.

Communication and caring are such powerful ingredients in building a player’s confidence and building a team.

Thirdly, encourage your players and the team to compete and play to win games of cricket.

Helping players understand their roles and talking through game plans is obviously vital to any team’s success, but if a captain can do points one and two well, winning and enjoying games of cricket becomes a lot easier.

Best wishes to all captains and aspiring leaders. I hope this might add some value to some of you.

Read More
5 months ago

Heidi Cheadle – my best captain

The best captain I played with was Hannah Trollip at Gordons Women’s District Cricket Club in Sydney.

Hannah was always calm and never sweated the small stuff and always found the balance of best foot forward and being fair.

She always led by example and if runs were needed, she’d get them. Also, incredibly humble and when she finally let us or me pressure her into bowling, I think we got about 15 stumpings together one season

Read More
6 months ago

David Nankervis - my best captain

The best captain I played with was Matthew Mott at Frankston Peninsula Cricket Club in Victorian Premier Cricket
He is a great guy; a pretty relaxed down to earth Queenslander and he knew how to connect with people and get the best out of his players.
He could always read the game situation and knew what was required and what was going to happen next.
I guess it’s those same skills that have helped him become a successful cricket coach.

Read More
6 months ago

Nick Foster – my best captain

I have been fortunate enough to play under some very good captains over my playing time. The name that stands out to me as the best captain is Mark Littlewood.

I grew up playing junior cricket against Mark around the Newcastle area and then played a lot of grade cricket against him. Whilst I didn’t share a club changeroom with Mark I was fortunate enough to spend many successful years under his captaincy in the Newcastle Representative team.

Under Mark’s captaincy the Newcastle representative team had one of its most successful periods with multiple NSW Country Championship wins and also a hugely successful stint in the NSW Premier Cricket Kingsgrove Cup T20.

There are a few things that stick in my mind about Mark’s leadership and captaincy:

• Mark was one of the most competitive people I know and it’s safe to say that competitiveness took others along with him for the ride.
• He instilled confidence in others and especially myself. I have no doubt Mark made me a better cricketer and I think many other people he captained would say similar things. I always felt he had complete faith in me to do the job the team needed.
• Mark was always positive. Whether it be Batting, Bowling or with his captaincy, he was always trying to win! And always trying to move the game forward.
• Mark never took a backward step. It wouldn’t matter the opposition, Mark was always up for the fight. As a player in his team I found it such a great thing to know that our leader just wanted to win and wasn’t going to be intimidated or be pushed around by anyone.
• Mark performed when our team needed it the most. He was so resilient. I recall Mark dislocating a finger whilst fielding in a NSW Country Final at Bradman Oval in Bowral. Mark went to hospital for treatment and returned to bat and went on to score a decisive half century to secure another title for Newcastle.
• Mark was tactically very astute. He understood the game, and always seemed to be a step ahead. I am convinced that Mark’s tactical nous played a huge part in the success of the Newcastle teams he captained. Yes, we had many wonderful cricketers but I would say Marks captaincy often gave us a head start.

I feel very fortunate to have played underneath Mark and I have tried to incorporate some of his skills and traits into my own captaincy.

Read More
6 months ago