Leading from the front is never easy. Today we discuss and rank the best of the best leaders in the sport of cricket in our top 20 most successful cricket captains of all time list. Read on…
Cricket is the world’s most complex and tiring game. A single person can never conquer this sport. It’s a game of 11 players in a team.
A pack of wolves fights against another one. And every pack needs a commander to lead them in the war. In this game, a commander is the captain of the team. It is the grit of a leader that contains all 11 players in a team.
The whole pack, plans, actions revolve around that one guy. If he wins, he gets the credit but when the team loses, all kinds of blame surrounds him. It is not a job of the faint-hearted.
But some nations are blessed to have or had captains who were able to uplift their game and name.
Any captain is as good as his team but to put them in one frame and propel everyone to give their cent-per cent is strenuous. Read on to find our pick for the top 10 captains in the world of all time.
Top 20 Most Successful Cricket Captains of All Time!
Here’s our list of the top 20 most successful cricket captains of all time:
|1.||Mahendra Singh Dhoni||2004-2019|
|15.||Virat Kohli||2008 –|
20. Wasim Akram
Wasim Akram was one of a kind. His intellect and skills with the bowl were legendary. He had the best reverse swing skill in the World.
It won’t be wrong to call him “The Master of Swing”. His genius mind proved to be a boon for the Pakistan cricket team.
He made his international debut for Pakistan in 1984-85 and got the captaincy in 1993. Akram led the team in 109 ODIs at a win percentage of 61.42 and 25 Tests at a win percentage of 48.00.
It is a pity that we don’t talk much about his captaincy. He led the team for a relatively shorter time, but he made his impact in limited-overs. He also led the team in the 1999 World Cup, where Pakistan ended up as runners-up.
He ended his cricketing career in 1999 with 414 Test wickets and 502 ODI wickets at an average of 23.62 and 23.53, respectively.
Akram always remained underrated and suffered his comparison with the great Imran Khan.
|Wickets in ODI||502|
|Wickets in Tests||414|
|Wickets in T20||–|
19. Michael Vaughan
Michael Vaughan was an impactful England cricketer whose batting technique was considered to be incredibly profound. He did not have a great run in ODIs, but he was a fine Test player.
He aced bouncy South African pitches and swinging conditions at home. His leadership skills were cherry-on-top for him.
He made his debut in Tests against South Africa in 1999. Having begun his captaincy career in 2003, Vaughan led the English team in 51 Tests at a win percentage of 50.98 and 60 ODIs at a win percentage of 58.92.
Under his leadership, England won the legendary 2005 Ashes at the time when Australia was almost impossible to beat. He brought the Ashes home after 16 years. His ODI captaincy stats are also praiseworthy.
He announced his retirement from all forms of cricket in 2009. He ended his Test career with an average of 41.44 and 18 tons in the format.
Vaughan struggled in ODIs as a batsman, but still, England would be missing him for his contributions as a captain. He is now a cricket commentator.
|Runs in ODI||1982|
|Runs in Tests||5719|
|Runs in T20||27|
|Strike Rate (Tests/Odi/T20i)||51.14/68.39/122.73|
18. Mahela Jayawardene
Mahela Jayawardene was one of the most artistic batsmen of his era. His classical techniques with the bat can put many modern cricketers to shame.
He acted as a bridge between the peripheries of two generations. He was one of the most sincere cricketers that we have ever seen.
He made his international debut in 1997 and got the captaincy of the Sri Lankan team in 2003. Jayawardene led them in 38 Tests with a win percentage of 47.36 and 129 ODIs with a win percentage of 59.07.
He also led the national team 19 T20Is in which he won 13 matches. Jayawardene also led the team to the finals of the 2007 World Cup, where they lost to invincible Australia.
His ability to understand the skill set present in the team was commendable. His understanding of the game was laudable.
He retired from Test cricket in 2014 and bid farewell to the ODIs in 2017. Jayawardene ended his career with nearly 12000 runs in both the formats. He bagged 34 Test hundred and 19 ODI tons and was one of the finest Sri Lankan batsmen.
|Runs in ODI||12650|
|Runs in Tests||11814|
|Runs in T20||1493|
|Strike Rate (Tests/Odi/T20i)||51.46/78.97/133.18|
17. Hansie Cronje
Hansie Cronje was one of the most inspiring and influential cricketers of his time. He accepted his involvement in fixing, which left the whole cricket fraternity in shock.
But his end was something that shouldn’t have happened like the way it did. He could have been an icon for the younger generation, but his fate had different plans.
He began to lead the South African team in 1994. He captained the side in 53 Tests with a win percentage of 50.94 and 138 ODIs with a win percentage of 73.70.
|WJ Cronje (SA)||1994-2000||191||126||46||1||15||2.73||65.96||24.08|
Cronje was one of the best leaders in ODIs all around the World. He led South Africa to beat India in India in 2000, which is still a dream of many captains.
His career ended in 2000 due to the fixing scandal. It was nothing short of a tragedy that led a player with astonishing captaincy abilities to an infamous end. Cronje left this World in an unfortunate aircraft crash.
For him, everything ended in a doomed way. Despite his scandalous career, his inspiring presence can not be ignored.
|Runs in ODI||5565|
|Runs in Tests||3714|
|Runs in T20||0|
|Strike Rate (Tests/Odi/T20i)||44.64/76.47/0|
16. Shaun Pollock
Shaun Pollock was one of the most capable all-rounders that cricket has ever produced. South Africa has always been blessed with quality all-rounders like him, Jacques Kallis, and the Morkel brothers.
Pollock got the captaincy of the South African team in 2000. He led them in 26 Tests and 97 ODIs with the win percentages of 53.84 and 64.06, respectively. His leading stats were praiseworthy.
However, he faced a lot of criticism after the miscalculation of the DL method in a game against Sri Lanka, leading to their early exit from the 2003 World Cup.
As a batsman, he made over 3000 runs in both the formats, whereas he took 421 Test wickets and 393 ODI wickets, which are legendary.
He announced his retirement from all forms of international cricket in 2008, having played 108 Tests, 303 ODIs and 12 T20Is.
His longevity shows his level of fitness and determination for the nation. After him, Jacques Kallis never allowed anyone to miss Pollock’s services.
|Runs in ODI||3519|
|Runs in Tests||3781|
|Runs in T20||86|
|Strike Rate (Tests/Odi/T20i)||52.53/86.7/122.86|
|Wickets in ODI||393|
|Wickets in Tests||421|
|Wickets in T20||15|
15. Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli is arguably the best cricketer of his generation. No one has ever come close to Kohli’s graciousness, especially in ODIs.
When he was 24 years old, he already had 14 ODI tons against his name. At an age when most young players start their international careers, he was an established icon of cricket.
He got the Test captaincy in 2014 in a series against Australia and made the impact straight away in the first match. In 2017, MS Dhoni passed on the baton of full-time captaincy to Virat in limited-overs too.
He has led the Indian team in 65 Tests, 95 ODIs and 45 T20Is in which his win percentages are 60.78, 68.42 and 60, respectively.
His captaincy records are brilliant, but his inability to win a major trophy has now knocked him down as the white ball captain.
However, he has truly revolutionized the Indian Test team and has won major overseas series, including Australia in 2018 and 2021 and England in 2021.
His batting has improved a lot during his captaincy. The pressure to lead the nation only made him better over the years. With 70 centuries across formats and several records, he sits at the top of the many elite lists.
|Runs in ODI||12169|
|Runs in Tests||7609|
|Runs in T20||3159|
|Strike Rate (Tests/Odi/T20i)||56.75/93.17/139.04|
14. Arjun Ranatunga
Arjun Ranatunga was a big slap on the face of people who judge others on the basis of looks. Looking at his overweight and lazy appearance, no one would have imagined that he was going to be one of the finest captains for Sri Lanka. He made his nation believe in hard work and determination.
He led Sri Lanka to their first-ever World Cup glory in 1996 where they won the final against mighty Australia at a time when no one believed that Sri Lanka could ever win this trophy.
He led the Sri Lankan team for 11 years, captaining the side for 56 Tests and 193 ODIs in which his win percentage was 21.42 and 48.37 respectively.
His overall records aren’t that great but the 1996 World Cup win will always be remembered. That victory inspired the next generation of Sri Lankan cricketers like Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara.
He retired from international cricket in 2000 and got into politics soon after his cricket career. Though his political career didn’t go well, Arjun was one of the finest people that made his nation proud.
|Runs in ODI||7456|
|Runs in Tests||5105|
|Runs in T20||0|
|Strike Rate (Tests/Odi/T20i)||56.99/77.91/0|
13. Graeme Smith
The first thing that pops in our minds after listening to the name of Graeme Smith, is courage and determination for the country. He showed it when he went out to bat after fracturing his arm just to save the match.
His grit and passion to lead the South African team were unmatched. He wasn’t the most elegant left-hander but his technique was equipped well enough to take on any bowler in the World.
Smith led the South African team in 109 Test matches and 150 ODIs with the win percentages of 48.62 and 64.23 respectively.
He got the captaincy when he was just 22 years old. But he showed a lot of maturity for his age that made him stand apart.
Smith sits at the top of the list of leading the side in most Test matches followed by Allan Border. He also led the team in 27 matches in which they won 18 matches.
As a batsman, he made over 9000 runs in tests and almost 7000 runs in ODIs. Smith retired from international cricket in 2014 due to his daughter’s injury. He will forever be remembered as the greatest man in South African cricket history.
|Runs in ODI||6989|
|Runs in Tests||9265|
|Runs in T20||982|
|Strike Rate (Tests/Odi/T20i)||59.68/80.82/127.53|
12. Michael Clarke
Michael Clarke was one the most elegant and classical right-handed batsmen that Australia usually produces. He was a little unfortunate to make his debut in a team that already had established geniuses.
But with the time, Australia saw the exit of several legends due to ageing which meant Michael Clarke would be leading the team across formats.
He led the Australian team in 47 Tests and 74 ODIs with win percentages of 51.06 and 70.42 respectively. Under his captaincy, Australia topped the Test rankings.
His greatest glory came in 2015 when he won the team their 5th World Cup at home by beating New Zealand in a one-sided final match.
After the World Cup win, Clarke retired from international cricket with 8643 Test runs and 7981 ODI runs. He certainly got overshadowed by other Australian cricketing legends, but one can not ignore the fact that he was a fine captain.
|Runs in ODI||7981|
|Runs in Tests||8643|
|Runs in T20||488|
|Strike Rate (Tests/Odi/T20i)||55.92/78.99/103.17|
11. Allan Border
A stalwart of Australian cricket, Allan Border transformed Australian cricket and made them the behemoth we see today.
Border led Australia in 93 Tests and 178 ODIs with the win percentages of 34.40 and 61.42 respectively. He took the team in their turmoil and rebuilt the faith from scratch.
In 1987, he led the Australian team to their first-ever World Cup win. It was Border’s captaincy that made the kangaroos invincible later on.
Border ended his career with more than 11,000 runs in Tests at an outstanding average of 50.56. He also made over 6000 runs in ODIs.
|Runs in ODI||6524|
|Runs in Tests||11174|
|Runs in T20||0|
|Strike Rate (Tests/Odi/T20i)||41.38/71.43/0|
10. Brendon McCullum
Kicking off our list of the top 10 most successful cricket captains of all time is Brendon McCullum. Lovingly called “Baz” was one of the most fearless and influencing personalities.
His fitness was such that his buildup looked like a professional boxer. He had jaw-dropping power in his arm like that of “Thor”.
McCullum got the captaincy of New Zealand in 2012. His start as a leader wasn’t a good one as NZ lost the first after Test series as 0-3 from South Africa. But his belief to bring a change and make it a unique team was promising.
|BB McCullum (NZ)||2008-2016||121||60||47||1||9||1.27||49.58||38.84|
His attack with the bat at the top of the order was something that formed the base for the whole team. His tremendous performance and leadership in the 2015 ICC World Cup led NZ to their first final ever.
His knock of 77 runs from just 25 balls against England in that tournament was remarkable. But his 59 runs off 26 balls in the Semifinal that too, in the first 6 overs proved to be too good for South Africans as NZ entered their first finals.
In 2016, he smashed the fastest ever Test hundred in just 54 balls in his last match before retirement.
Within his captaincy, NZ became a favourite contender of tournaments from an underdog tag. He shaped his brand of cricket that was inculcated by the whole team. NZ will forever be grateful for his contributions.
|Runs in ODI||6083|
|Runs in Tests||6453|
|Runs in T20||2140|
|Strike Rate (Tests/Odi/T20i)||64.6/96.37/136.22|
9. Sourav Ganguly
Some people take birth with a destiny ahead of them. Sourav Ganguly’s destiny was to change Indian cricket entirely. He made a team out of his instincts and he backed his players as a brother does.
If you were a cricketer, you always wanted to play under his leadership because the kind of support you get from him is unmatchable.
As a classical left-hander, he smashed a fine hundred on his debut against England at Lords registering his name on the honours board. In the late 1990s, when India was shattered with some names being involved in fixing, it was not easy for anyone to step forward as a leader.
|S Ganguly (India)||1999-2005||196||97||79||0||15||1.22||49.48||40.3|
But Sourav emerged and changed everything for Indian cricket for good. He made his team backed by his pure instincts. Under his leadership, India started fighting well in away Test tours.
His iconic Shirt-off swirl after winning the Natwest Final against England took the World by storm. He placed India as a new cricket power. His leadership took India to the finals of the 2003 World Cup.
His controversial saga with the coach Greg Chapell in 2006-07 proved to be his downfall. He made his return in 2008 only to bid his farewell from cricket. But before that, Dada led India towards the path of glory.
|Runs in ODI||11363|
|Runs in Tests||7212|
|Runs in T20||–|
|Strike Rate (Tests/Odi/T20i)||51.26/73.71/-|
8. Kane Williamson
There is one more captain cool other than MS Dhoni. Kane Williamson is currently, the most respected captain in the World. His calmness is next to that of a monk. His god-like generous gestures are enough to make you praise him.
He got the New Zealand captaincy in 2016 after the retirement of Brendon McCullum. He had a good team behind but the task was not that easy. In the very first year, he led NZ to the semifinals of the 2016 T20I World Cup.
Kane’s calm demeanour and patient approach slowly started to fulfil the team’s desire. In the 2019 ODI WC, he swivelled every other team to reach the finals but were defeated by “The Barest of All Margins” by England in boundary count.
|KS Williamson (NZ)||2012-2021||163||86||65||2||7||1.32||52.76||39.87|
That loss was disheartening but Kane was seen smiling. It takes a lot of courage to remain calm and hopeful in that kind of situation. But he reached the pinnacle of success by winning the World Test Championship 2018-21.
In his captaincy, Williamson has been able to transform a small cricketing nation into a Test Superpower. As a batsman, he is a member of the current “Fab Four”.
He still has a lot of years ahead of him. Considering his abilities, NZ will be the happiest team in the world right now. For now, he is enjoying his time with the Test mace and there are many to come.
|Runs in ODI||6174|
|Runs in Tests||7230|
|Runs in T20||1805|
|Strike Rate (Tests/Odi/T20i)||51.76/81.76/124.91|
7. Imran Khan
Imran Khan was probably the most cunning and sharpest mind on the field of cricket in his era. Along with the dangerous skill with the ball, he had some good hands with the bat too. But he attained greatness while captaining the Pakistan team.
After coming into the Pakistan team in 1976, he established himself as one of the fastest flowers of his time. He captained the side in 1987 WC but later announced retirement due to loss in the tournament.
Though he returned to the team after being requested by the then Pakistan Prime Minister. He kept working hard. In the 1992 WC, Imran led the Pakistan team to their first-ever World Cup triumph after defeating England in the final.
|Imran Khan (Pakistan)||1982-1992||187||89||67||1||26||1.32||47.59||35.82|
He was a front runner in the team with his swing, reverse swing and pace. He was a match-winner with the bat too.
He retired soon after the 1992 WC but that was not the end of his leadership skills. He entered into the politics of the nation and became the Prime Minister in 2018. Imran khan’s influencing powers are still intact after all these years.
|Runs in ODI||3807|
|Runs in Tests||3709|
|Runs in T20||–|
|Strike Rate (Tests/Odi/T20i)||57.79/72.75/-|
|Wickets in ODI||182|
|Wickets in Tests||362|
|Wickets in T20||–|
6. Eoin Morgan
Next up on our list of the top 10 most successful cricket captains of all time is Eoin Morgan. Morgan is one of those players who have had unorthodox starts and stories. He made his debut for Ireland in 2006 but he was destined to play for England.
His cunning and fierce thinking power and presence of mind took him to new heights in his career.
He became captain of England in 2015 just two months after the World Cup after Alastair Cook was removed. He led the team in the 2015 WC but it turned out to be the worst nightmare for English fans.
|Eoin Morgan (England)||2011-2021||188||111||64||4||0||1.73||59.04||34.04|
They were out in the group phase after getting an “upset” defeat by Bangladesh. After that Tournament, Morgan applied every one of his tactics and plans to revive the team. He changed the way they used to play.
Their only form to play now was attack, attack and attack. By 2019, he transformed the team into the most fearsome side in the World. Under his leadership, England won the 2019 WC with a stunning performance throughout the tournament.
He is a slaughter with the bat in his hands. He has a record of most number of sixes in a single knock. He still has a lot of cricket in him but has already become a great captain to be remembered forever.
|Runs in ODI||7701|
|Runs in Tests||700|
|Runs in T20||2360|
|Strike Rate (Tests/Odi/T20i)||54.77/91.25/138.25|
5. Steve Waugh
Steve Waugh was the toughest player to play against. He was one of those captains who got into the opposition’s minds and forced their faces into the rubble. He was the epitome of grit and determination. His mental toughness was remarkable.
Waugh made his debut in 1985 vs India but it took some years to get established in the already strong Australian side. His surge as a batsman started in 1993. He became a fatal batsman before becoming the captain of Australia in 1997.
He led the team in the 1999 World Cup. He played his greatest ODI innings in this WC against South Africa where he smashed 120 runs in 110 balls in a close encounter. He won Australia the 1999 WC trophy.
|Steve Waugh (Australia)||1997-2004||163||108||44||3||7||2.45||66.25||26.99|
In tests, Waugh had won 41 Tests out of 57 games which is quite remarkable. He led Australia to 15 consecutive Test wins.
He retired in 2002 transferring his captaincy to Ricky Ponting who later turned out to be another great. Steve Waugh took Australia to a point from where it can not be conquered.
He was undisputedly the greatest captain ever, earning him a spot on our list of the top 10 most successful cricket captains of all time.
|Runs in ODI||7569|
|Runs in Tests||10927|
|Runs in T20||–|
|Strike Rate (Tests/Odi/T20i)||48.65/75.91/-|
4. Clive Lloyd
Clive Lloyd was a British-Guyanese cricketer who played for West Indies. He was the greatest captain in West Indies cricket history. He built a war-like team with one of the fiercest bowlers of all time. He put all of them together and conquer the world like no other.
Sir Clive Lloyd made his debut in 1966 for the West Indies against India. As a captain, he led the fearsome team to the consecutive World Cup winners in 1975 and 1979. In 1983, he again led WI to the finals of the tournament but got defeated by Indians.
As a left-handed batsman, Lloyd was a forceful act with the willow in his hands. Once he went 26 straight matches without defeats and won 11 of them. He put up a team that was feared the most in the history of cricket.
|Clive Lloyd (West Indies)||1974-1985||158||100||30||1||26||3.33||63.29||18.98|
He retired in 1985 against Pakistan in MCG but before that, he glorified the West Indian team at the World stage. Watching the current situation of WI in cricket, they would want someone like Clive Lloyd to play for them again.
|Runs in ODI||1977|
|Runs in Tests||7515|
|Runs in T20||–|
|Strike Rate (Tests/Odi/T20i)||100.35/81.22/-|
3. Kapil Dev
If you ever think of how this game became so popular in India, a face always pops up automatically. Kapil Dev was the one who once moulded this sport into the genes of Indians.
Kapil Dev made his debut in 1978 against Pakistan. After five years, he was given the leadership of the Indian team. India wasn’t a contender to win the 1983 World Cup.
Indian veterans say that they went to that tournament as if they were going on some picnic tour. But one man was not like that. The Indian Captain had something else on his mind. Kapil Dev, solely motivated the whole team to give everything in that World Cup.
|Kapil Dev (India)||1982-1987||108||43||40||1||22||1.07||39.81||37.03|
Eventually, he led India to its first-ever WC win. It brought a revolution in Indian cricket. Youth became eager to take this game under their belt.
He was the greatest all-rounder and captain to ever play for India. He retired in 1994 with more than 5000 runs and over 400 wickets in tests.
|Runs in ODI||3783|
|Runs in Tests||5248|
|Runs in T20||–|
|Strike Rate (Tests/Odi/T20i)||94.76/95.07/-|
|Wickets in ODI||253|
|Wickets in Tests||434|
|Wickets in T20||–|
2. Ricky Ponting
Ricky Ponting was the most effective captain in the World who led Australia on their dream journey to conquer every milestone. He was the guy with a typical Australian aggressive attitude. His attacking behaviour was shown in both, his game and behaviour.
Ponting took over as captain from Steve Waugh in 2002. He was already ascertained as a lethal batsman for Australia. Ponting led his team to consecutive World Cup wins in 2003 and 2007.
He also led the Aussies to 21 consecutive ODI wins in 2003. With many greats in the team, he made them invincible throughout his captaincy period. The mighty Aussies won two Champions trophies under his captaincy while they reached the semifinals in two of these tournaments.
|R Ponting (Australia)||2002-2012||324||220||77||2||13||2.85||67.9||23.76|
In the 2011 WC, he led the team to the Quarter Final where they lost to India. Ponting made a century in his last match in World Cups. He is, probably the greatest Aussie captain ever.
|Runs in ODI||13704|
|Runs in Tests||13378|
|Runs in T20||401|
|Strike Rate (Tests/Odi/T20i)||58.72/80.39/132.78|
1. Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Who would have thought that a boy with long and stylish hair will become the greatest personality to ever play cricket. MS Dhoni was one of those guys whose career backstory had been unique.
In childhood, he used to do the goalkeeping for his school football team but he was foredoomed to play Cricket. From a TTE in Railways to making his way in the Indian team is quite fathomable.
He made his debut in 2004 against Bangladesh. He took up the captaincy of senior-less India in the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007. Dhoni led that unseasoned core to the World triumph that India needed more than anyone after being eliminated at the group stage in the 2007 ODI WC.
|MS Dhoni (India)||2007-2018||332||178||120||6||15||1.48||53.61||36.14|
Mahi revived the downfall of Indian cricket. He led a fitness revolution in the team that wasn’t a thing before. 4 years later, he took India to their greatest glory when India won the 2011 World Cup after 28 years.
Soon after 2 years, he won India the 2013 Champions Trophy with a young team. He helped India for years through his finishing abilities with the bat. Dhoni was the most remarkable wicket-keeper behind the wickets.
He retired in 2019 but by then, he gave India everything it needed. He made winning look so easy that it has become a difficulty for others to maintain up to his records.
Dhoni is the most influential personality in the Indian diaspora, making him our number one pick for the top 10 most successful cricket captains of all time!
|Runs in ODI||10773|
|Runs in Tests||4876|
|Runs in T20||4669|
|Strike Rate (Tests/Odi/T20i)||59.12/87.56/126.13|
These were the top 20 most successful cricket captains of all time . There have been some other captains who made this game more interesting. Honorable mentions: Virat Kohli, Faf Du Plessis, Mahela Jayawardena, Graeme Smith.There are leaders currently, who will be in one of these lists in future.