Cricket might be played with 11 players, but the one person who is responsible for making or breaking a team is the captain. Like a ship's captain, who has to sacrifice his life when he fails in his duty, a cricket team's captain is subjected to almost the same severity when his team doesn't perform.
Over the years, there have been some who have done perfect justice to the title, some who had it thrust upon them, and some who got it as an inheritance.
Whatever the case maybe, I have handpicked a select few captains who I have seen play over the years and deliver.
1. Sourav Ganguly: He is arguably the best captain that India has ever produced and perhaps the most controversial player in the history of Indian Cricket. His USP was the fact that he dared to do things no other Indian Captain had ever done.
"Eye for an Eye" was always his motto and he combined aggressiveness and tactical skills with great ease. His actions although provoked caustic comments among former Indian cricketers but the crowd and his fans loved it. The height of his career was India reaching the finals of the 2003 World Cup after it won it 20 years ago.
2. Arjuna Ranatunga: He was one of the finest cricketers to play for the Lankans in the 90's. Under his leadership, the Sri Lankan team thrived and won the World Cup in 1996, defeating Australia.
Unfortunately, the Sri Lankan team did not find a perfect successor to the captaincy mantle for many years after his retirement, although Jayawardene is doing a great job currently.
3. Hansie Cronje: After Sourav, he is my next favorite captain. It does feel a bit weird to say "my favorite captain" but I liked the way Cronje molded his team. Although his career was marred and cut short by the "match fixing" episode, there won't be any denying that he was one of the best captains in the history of the sport.
4. Imran Khan: Imran Khan was instrumental in his team winning the 1992 World Cup. At that time, there were rumors floating that many of the Pakistani players were handpicked by Khan himself from the gully cricket level. Whether this can be verified or not, I am not sure.
However, the fact remains that under his captaincy Pakistan became one of the most feared names in World Cricket.
5. Stephen Fleming: Fleming was the pivotal force behind bringing the New Zealand Cricket team from being the underdogs to world prominence.
In spite of the fact that the Kiwis had played cricket for a long period of time, Fleming was the captain who made N.Z. a sort of force to reckon with in the late nineties and early 2000's.
6. Shane Warne: I chose Shane Warne over other Aussie captains because there was an ambiguity in my mind over them. Each and every Australian captain has his own influence over the team so I went for Warne.
Warne got his chance of becoming the captain after his retirement from the international circuit for the IPL team Rajasthan Royals. In fact, the team which was touted as "The Underdogs" went to lift the maiden IPL T20 trophy under his leadership.
7. Nasseer Hussain: He was perhaps the knight in shining armor for the English cricket team in the beginning of a new century. He was one of those captains who put his team before him and was a sincere player. Although the English side may have not had that success in his captaincy, he gave it all to the team until his retirement.
One might argue that I have not pointed out any West Indian captain but as mentioned before, I have picked only those I have seen play and who I really admired.