From 1990 to now, who was the best Aussie captain?

Clayton Waters Roar Rookie

By Clayton Waters, Clayton Waters is a Roar Rookie

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30 Have your say

    Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Steve Smith… the list runs long with great Australian captains.

    I believe a strong leader and captain is one to get down in the trenches and dig deep and when his team looks at him he says “follow me”.

    Each skipper brings different vibes and strong holds while at the top. I’ll start with Steven Waugh.

    16 Tests wins in a row, World Cup win in 1999 were among his big achievements from 1998-2004. He looked to break teams down and mentally be stronger than any other opponent.

    Whether that was the big seamers from West Indies or the clever and cunning Indian spinners, Waugh had a 72 per cent winning average in Tests and only lost nine games in his time in charge.

    Ricky Ponting, 48 wins from 77 in Tests, three Ashes losses, 5-0 Ashes drubbing, two World Cup wins, two Champions Cups were his big achievements from 2004 until 2011. Aggressive early, he then was questioned for being a defensive captain in his later years.

    As a leader in performance you couldn’t ask for much more. Batting three and taking on the game early, he scored a ton of runs setting up huge totals for Australia. If only I could play a hook shot as good as Punter.

    An demon in the field often creating chances and snapping them up himself. Punter was blessed with a super human squad. Names like Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Matt Hayden and Adam Gilchrist – but still there needs to be someone guiding the ship. Not afraid to call people out, he is right up there.

    Australia captain Michael Clarke leaves the crease after losing his wicket

    (AFP PHOTO/Lindsey Parnaby)

    Micheal Clarke has a 51 per cent winning record in Tests with a 5-0 win in the Ashes, World Cup win and 244 ODIs with 74 as Skipper. Touted for his aggressive approach from ball one, he was also an extremely good tactical captain always proactive rather than reactive.

    Ian Chappell was once quoted saying “Clarke was a bold captain, never afraid to dangle a carrot in search of victory”. One thing that hindered Michael was his polarising nature in the sheds.

    I believe his win at all costs mentality caused some issues which to this day are still reported. No doubt he was a good captain and his performances with the bat proved this. Who can forget the 300 against India? Pure class.

    Steven Smith is yet to prove himself in the big games but he will no doubt have his time. Currently at a 50 per cent winning rate in all formats he has had to deal with weaker sides then the previous captains but still is growing as a leader.

    I believe the Ashes coming up will be a huge turning point in his leadership. He is aggressive and reads the game well. Can he steer and direct the players to success against a strong English side.

    I really can’t pick. I always loved Ponting by the way he took the game on and led with his performances. I loved Waugh’s deep love for the baggy green. I love Clarke’s aggressive nature to the game. Can Steven Smith join these guys as good captains? Time will tell.

    There have been upsets aplenty in the World Cup so far, so be sure to check out our expert tips and predictions for South Korea vs Sweden, Belgium vs Panama and England vs Tunisia and get the good oil on who to tip tonight.

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    The Crowd Says (30)

    • September 27th 2017 @ 7:41am
      jamesb said | September 27th 2017 @ 7:41am | ! Report

      You have left out a couple of captains- Allan Border and Mark Taylor. Statistically, both don’t have the numbers. However, Border brought back Australian cricket from the abyss to being on the threshold of becoming number 1.

      While with Taylor, IMO, he was the best when it came to tactics and he would come up with bold moves, like batting first on a tough pitch at Old Trafford in 1997. It was the test where Steve Waugh made his twin tons.

      So since 1990, I’d have Taylor has the best captain

      • Roar Rookie

        September 27th 2017 @ 8:22am
        Clayton Waters said | September 27th 2017 @ 8:22am | ! Report

        There was a typo with the title. Changing now. Was aiming at very late 90s to now as that really was the only cricket I saw had had a good grasp on.

        Based on player feedback and culture I’d agreee with Mark Taylor. Serious competitor and even better bloke. I am lucky enough to have him as our club patron at the ND Rangers.

        • September 27th 2017 @ 9:32am
          qwetzen said | September 27th 2017 @ 9:32am | ! Report

          Ah. So you’ve narrowed the criteria to something irrational so you can justify picking Taylor.

          Something meaningful would be; Best of My Time. Which would be;

          1. Border – innovative field placing, motivator, brilliant fielder and gutsiest batsman I’ve ever seen.
          2. Chappelli – Great batter when his side was under pressure, fiercely protective of his team, motivator, superb slipper.

          These two are so far ahead of the others that they’re not worth thinking about.

      • September 27th 2017 @ 10:39am
        BriainsTrust said | September 27th 2017 @ 10:39am | ! Report

        Border was great in his backs to the wall personal efforts, but had little leadership and he was an individualist.
        The thing that brought Australia forward was Bob Simpson, Australia were lucky they had Border as captain because if Bob Simpson had tried to come in with either Ian Chappel or Mark Taylor as captain, then Simpson would have been removed and the team would have gone back to the slack low effort regime they had pre Simpson.

        • September 27th 2017 @ 11:32am
          Johnno said | September 27th 2017 @ 11:32am | ! Report

          How can you say Chappell”s team eg Lillee/Thommo/Rod marsh/Greg Chappell to name a few were low effort..

          • September 27th 2017 @ 7:29pm
            BriainsTrust said | September 27th 2017 @ 7:29pm | ! Report

            Low effort in terms of the amount of fielding and supplementary training that teams did
            Lillee was a pioneer in some ways, after his first big injury he worked hard on his batting and physical training as he couldn’t work on his bowling.
            CHappels were great fielders, though Ian CHappell could have been in better shape, Greg Chappell was more health conscious but he was also more aloof and less concerned with his teammates,
            In those days the Australian team did less extra work than a county team which might have not been a concern when they had natural talent but in Borders early days the team was dropping a lot and not saving any runs…
            It was a bit embarassing that AUstralia were shown up by new Zealand’s county cricketers in those days in fielding and running between the wickets.
            Border did not want to be captain, he threatened to resign if his teammates didn’t improve, so in came Simpson to help with the team and make it easier for Border.
            Chappel had a big ego and was not a believer in extra unecessary training, Taylor got rid of SImpson when he took over and being naturally lazy he would not have tolerated him in the first place.

    • September 27th 2017 @ 8:54am
      Johnno said | September 27th 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

      Alan Border seemed to have the most precence. He was tough as nails and serious credits points eg good batting average vs the west indies and led well during tough times in OZ cricket.. So he’s my pick… A bit grumpy. but who cares being grumpy and hard nosed is good for the job your not there to be a nice guy..
      I liked his no nice guy approach to the 89 Ashes, he banned the aussie team from haveing a drink with the english during that series, it ruffled the english feather but so what it was a hard underbelly to make it clear how motivated he was to win back the ashes. Funnily enough in 2005 england had the same hard edge attitude to the aussies and won..

    • Roar Guru

      September 27th 2017 @ 9:01am
      Giri Subramanian said | September 27th 2017 @ 9:01am | ! Report

      To be frank, it has to be between Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh. Ponting, Clarke and Smith don’t stand a chance against those two wonderful captains. Then there is Allan Border who formed the all conquering Aussie team before handing it over to Mark Taylor. Border though retired in 1994. So if you consider him below is my order of Aussie captains since 1990:

      1. Allan Border
      2. Steve Waugh
      3. Mark Taylor
      4. Michael Clarke
      5. Steve Smith
      6. Ricky Ponting

      I feel Smith is a good captain but the team he has at the moment isn’t up to scratch. Ponting inherited the champion Aussie team from Steve Waugh and did well but once the legends retired he struggled as the captain. Clarke did reasonably well during his time as captain with series wins in SA.

      • September 27th 2017 @ 9:22am
        AGordon said | September 27th 2017 @ 9:22am | ! Report

        hi Giri

        The only change I’d make to your list is to swap Mark Taylor for Steve Waugh. I think Waugh learnt a lot from playing with Taylor as captain. In saying that, I’m probably only splitting hairs as both were fine leaders.

        Border is by far the most under rated captain of the lot. If he had the side Waugh & Ponting, the sky’s the limit on how many games his team would have won.

        • Roar Guru

          September 27th 2017 @ 9:35am
          Giri Subramanian said | September 27th 2017 @ 9:35am | ! Report

          I think more than Waugh and Ponting, the X Factor missing from Border was Shane Warne. Warne had just started his career under Border and had started to make an impact. Border had okay spinners like Tim May, Peter Taylor (Not sure anyone remembers him anymore) et all but did not have a great spinner like Warne. He always had good pacemen McDermott, Hughes, Alderman, Bruce Reid (Amazing bowler, shame that he could not have a full career due to injury), Mike Whitney and McGrath made his debut under him. Even though Ponting would have been a great addition to Borders team, Warne would have pushed his team to greatness.

          • September 27th 2017 @ 1:14pm
            AGordon said | September 27th 2017 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

            The reason I rate Border so highly was because of his ability to bring the best out of guys who didn’t have the X factor, as you’ve described it. He took a side to England in 1989 that was widely viewed as the worst to tour in a century, yet won the series handsomely, without having a class spinner (ironically, Trevor Hohns was chosen for a few Tests). Along the way, he mentored guys like Taylor, Waugh, Healy, etc in how to play cricket the Australian way, which stood us in good stead for the next 20 years.

            • September 27th 2017 @ 1:21pm
              Ouch said | September 27th 2017 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

              That is why I put AB at the top. He was the kick starter of Aussie dominance for 15 years

              • Roar Guru

                September 27th 2017 @ 4:39pm
                Giri Subramanian said | September 27th 2017 @ 4:39pm | ! Report

                I agree Allan Border is the number one whichever way we look at it. Waugh and Taylor come next.

        • Roar Guru

          September 27th 2017 @ 9:39am
          Giri Subramanian said | September 27th 2017 @ 9:39am | ! Report

          I also had similar confusion regarding Taylor and Waugh. I would not mind putting him ahead of Waugh. It is just that the team achieved so much under Waugh, it is just hard to overlook his impact. He almost singlehandedly dragged Australia to 1999 WC Finals. Who can forget his unbeaten 100 against SA in that all important game and the fifty in the semi finals against SA rescuing Australia along with Bevan. If not for those two innings, Australia would not have made the finals.

          Border probably was the only one with similar impact in the 1987 WC, as the Aussies were given no chance of winning the championship.

    • September 27th 2017 @ 9:28am
      E-Meter said | September 27th 2017 @ 9:28am | ! Report

      Border dragged our mob out of the abyss and instilled some toughness over the years. Taylor is my pick. He didn’t have the outright quality that Waugh and Ponting had later. Still it was a team on the improve. Taylor seemed very flexible and was always on the look out to try something. Clarke did well I reckon. The Aussies were up and down during his time, but he managed to get some pretty good performances out of the side.

    • September 27th 2017 @ 10:10am
      Ouch said | September 27th 2017 @ 10:10am | ! Report

      1. AB
      2. Mark Taylor
      3. Steve Waugh
      4. Michael Clarke
      5/6 Unsure between Ponting and Smith

    • September 27th 2017 @ 10:25am
      BriainsTrust said | September 27th 2017 @ 10:25am | ! Report

      Taylor might have been tactically astute but he was lazy, unfit and ate more than he exercised..
      Australia were going well because of Bob Simpson bringing in a new professionalism.
      If the culture had not been set up before Taylor became captain , Australia would have become a team of Ranatunga’s and the the 50 or so runs that Australia earnt extra through fielding and running between the wickets over a test match through being in better shape and better fielding would have been 50 lost due to being in worse shape than rivals.
      Windies become a great team after Kerry Packer got them a trainer and the Windies were noted as being 20-30 runs better in a one day match in the field in those days.

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