The other day I wrote about my 5 favourite Springbok captains, which mostly went down quite well (Except for Corne Krige). So I know turn my attention to the next one of the countries big sports, cricket. The Proteas have had 12 ODI Captains and 11 test captains since our return to International cricket. T20 has not been considered as, well, it is T20. Here are my five favourite Proteas captains.
5 Hansie Cronje
I know I am going to cop some serious abuse for including him, but I loved Hansie Cronje. I am still hurt and broken when I think back to what he did, but this list is not about my favourite human beings. Hansie for all his bad was a man who captained by example as seen by the fact that he was the fittest on the beep test time and time again. He would arguably be close to the top of the list if his career had not ended in controversy. Of any South African captain to have led his team in more than 20 ODI’s, Hansie had the best winning percentage. Cue the hate speech.
4 Shaun Pollock
Shaun was the man who had the unenviable task of taking over the reins from Hansie Cronje. The standout image from his captaincy will always be the 2003 Cricket World Cup when the team failed on Duckworth Lewis reading ability and the dejected ginger sat in the change room watching the rain. In picking up a team devastated by betrayal, Shaun still led SA in 26 test matches tasting defeat in only 5. We won 8 of the 10 series he captained us in. In ODI cricket the country’s most popular ginger led the country to 59 wins in 92 games. Ironically he led SA to three tied matches, exactly half of our ODI history ties!
3 Johan Botha
So he never led us in test cricket and has since become an Australian, but I genuinely digged Johan Botha as an ODI captain. In fairness he was a pretty good T20 captain too with a win ratio of 72% but that doesn’t count for this list. In the 10 ODI’s he captained us in, we won 8. Having broken his hand in the iconic test series in Australia, Smith was unavailable for the ODI series in Oz. Botha led us to a 4-1 ODI series win, the first time ever we had won a bilateral series against Australia in Australia. His bowling in that series was one of the vital factors behind our success. Of course if he was to ever represent Australia he would be removed from this list pretty quickly!
2 Faf du Plessis
Okay so Faf has only been the captain for a little while but has racked up nine ODI’s and five tests. Such was his impact in the home series against New Zealand in the absence of AB de Villiers that everyone wanted him to remain as captain. There is something about Faf that I genuinely like. He strikes me as someone who thrives in the leadership position and it brings the best out of him. His 9 ODI’s have seen us win 8 games and he became only the second SA captain to lead us to a test series victory in Australia. Class act, peppermints and all!
1 Graeme Smith
It really could not be anyone else. Biff took over as the South African captain as the youngest ever captain and the loud mouthed youngster quickly became the most iconic captain in world cricket. His list of records as captain is incredible and includes the most centuries by a captain in test match wins, the most wins as test captain and the most test runs as a captain. He scored two massive centuries in leading us to a series victory in England and a quick reputation for retiring English captains. 9 years undefeated in test series away from home, two away victories against the incredible Australians and the list goes on. In ODI Cricket he may never have won a world cup but the 438 game will always keep him at legend status. Biff, thank you and we miss you! You are my favourite Protea captain!
Who is your favourite Protea captain, only added if they captained more than 10 matches (across either format or in combination)