15/01/2022 will always be remembered as the end of an era in Indian cricket as Kohli announced that he is stepping down as Test captain. Kohli’s tremendous success as a batsman also coincided with his rise in stature as a captain. Kohli’s 40 Test wins as captain is only bettered by Smith, Ponting and Steve Waugh. This article speaks about the five most successful Test captains of all time.
#5 Clive Lloyd – 36 wins
Lloyd made his debut for the West Indies in 1966 and was appointed as the captain eight years later. In the late 70’s, he started building a dynasty that is remembered fondly to this day. He scored over 5000 runs as the captain of the West Indies and averaged 51.30. Quite remarkably, he lost just two series as captain, against Australia in 1975 and against New Zealand in 1980.
The series victory against England in 1976 is heralded as the beginning of the West Indies’ domination of world cricket. Under his leadership, the Carribeans won a Test series in all countries except New Zealand.
#4 Virat Kohli – 40 wins
Kohli is arguably the greatest Test captain of his time and anybody who succeeds him will have a monumental task ahead of them. Kohli inherited the mantle in the 2014 Australia tour as MS Dhoni’s reign came to an end. Kohli once again made the Indian team a force outside of India, leading them to series victories in England and Australia.
Ironically, his first and last Test series as captain were against the Proteas. He will be hoping that his successor finds a way to keep up India’s reputation as a ruthlessly aggressive unit.
#3 Steve Waugh – 41 wins
Steve Waugh is third on the list of most successful Test captains but his win percentage of 71.92 separates him from the rest. He lost just 9 Tests as captain, a frankly ridiculous number considering he captained Australia in 57 Tests. The Steve Waugh era began with a 2-2 draw away from home against West Indies. His second series as captain ended in a defeat to Sri Lanka but Australia were unstoppable thereafter.
Waugh’s second series defeat was against India in 2001 as Laxman and Dravid famously turned the series upside-down in an unforgettable day at the Eden Gardens. Waugh did not lose another series till retirement and is widely credited for assembling the greatest team in the history of cricket.
#2 Ricky Ponting – 48 wins
Ponting’s win percentage might be lower than Waugh’s but he managed to conquer the subcontinent, which is no mean achievement. In 2004, He won in Sri Lanka in his first Test series as skipper, although he did not impress as a batsman. 2005 was a dream year for Ponting as a batsman but England regained the Ashes after 19 years.
After the Ashes victory, Australia won 9 consecutive series under Ponting’s leadership, including thrashing England 5-0 at home. Australia’s dominance waned during Ponting’s final years as captain but he retired as one of the most successful Test captains.
#1 Graeme Smith – 53 wins
Just one year after he made his debut for South Africa, Smith was given the honor of leading an inexperienced team. After initial struggles, South Africa became a world-beating team. From April 2006 to March 2009, South Africa did not lose a single Test series. In this run, they won against Australia, England and Pakistan away from home.
After losing at home to Australia, South Africa went on another unbeaten streak for five years. This streak too ended with a defeat to Australia at home. In summary, South Africa under Smith were victorious in 53 Tests out of 109.