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Ranking Pakistan’s Test Captains

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In this article, Nadeem F. Paracha analyzes Pakistan’s top 30 Test captains.

Spoiler alert: Imran Khan isn’t ranked at No 1.


Pakistan gained Test status in 1952. Since then, it has played 421 Tests. It has won 136, lost 126 and drawn 159. The team has had 32 Test captains.

Rankings are not based on statistics only, but also on circumstances and on the overall impact of a player’s captaincy on Pakistan cricket. The statistics and information only include events and feats during a player’s captaincy.

Rankings:

The Top 10

1: Misbah-ul-Haq

Right-Handed Batsman

Captaincy record: 56 Tests. 26 Won; 19 Lost; 11 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure: 2010-2017

From: Mianwali (Punjab)

Captaincy style: Stoic; patient; thoughtful; measured. Sometimes dogmatic. Set fields and bowling lines to dry out the runs and consequently, ‘buy a wicket.’

Controversies: None.

Captaincy peaks: Defeated England 3-0 in 2012 and Australia 2-0 in 2014. Squared the series against England in 2016 after being 2-1 behind. Led Pakistan to the No. 1 spot in international Test rankings in August 2016. Introduced Saeed Ajmal and Yasir Shah.

His first Test series as captain, 2010. He was recalled and suddenly handed over the captaincy of a team wrecked by spot-fixing scandals and severe infighting. He was 36.

Saeed Ajmal was Misbah’s main strike bowler. After Ajmal, Misbah groomed the leg-spinner Yasir Shah to dominate the team’s bowling attack.

2017: The last Test. A befitting send-off.


2: Imran Khan

All-rounder; Right-Handed Batsman; Right-Arm-Fast.

Captaincy Record: 48 Tests. 14 Won; 8 Lost; 26 Drawn.

Captaincy tenures: 1982-1984; 1986-89; 1991-92.

From: Lahore (Punjab)

Captaincy style: Aggressive; inspiring; authoritative/‘dictatorial.’ Often tried to confuse the opposition by making exaggerated statements about some of his players before a series.

Controversies: Kept playing Mansoor Akhtar despite his many failures. Kept Iqbal Qasim out of the side, only to include him on the 1987 tour of India on the insistence of Vice-captain Javed Miandad. Qasim Umar and Younas Ahmad alleged that Khan encouraged his players to ‘bring girls into their hotel rooms for one-night-stands.’ Refused to play a series at home in October 1988 because ‘it was the hottest month of the year in Pakistan.’ Once said the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan should be decided on the cricket field.’ Often cussed players.

Captaincy peaks: Beat Australia 3-0 and then India 3-0 at home in 1982-83. Beat England in England and India in India in 1987. Brought Abdul Qadir back into the side. Groomed Wasim Akram and Introduced Waqar Younus, Saleem Jaffar and Aquib Javed.

With his fast bowling prodigies: Akram, Waqar and Aquib.

Khan often cussed fumbling players on the field.


3: Mushtaq Mohammad

All-Rounder; Right-Handed Batsman; Right-Arm-Leg-Break.

Captaincy Record: 19 Tests. 8 Won. 4 Lost. 7 Drawn.

Captaincy tenures: 1976-1977; 1978-79.

From: Karachi (Sindh)

Captaincy style: Aggressive; innovative; confrontational. Often encouraged his players to sledge.

Controversies: Encouraged his players to sledge during the 1976 series against Australia and then during the 1978 series against India. Alleged that he was removed as captain due to ‘conspiracies’ hatched by his vice-captain Asif Iqbal in 1979.

Captaincy peaks: Led Pakistan to its first Test win in Australia in 1976 and square the series after being 1-0 down. Beat India 2-0 in 1978. It was the first series between India and Pakistan in 17 years after the two countries renewed cricketing ties. Introduced Javed Miandad and Iqbal Qasim; and nurtured the rise of Imran Khan and Wasim Raja.

Imran’s rise as a genuine fast bowler began under Mushtaq during the 1976 series against Australia.

Pakistan team under Mushtaq arrives for a series against New Zealand in 1979. Wonder what’s in the briefcase?


4: Abdul Hafeez Kardar

All-Rounder. Left-Handed Batsman; Left-Arm-Spin. 

Captaincy Record: 23 Tests. 6 Won. 6 Lost. 11 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure: 1952-58.

From: Lahore (Punjab)

Captaincy style: Inspirational; authoritarian; aggressive. Used to leave chits of paper with instructions and inspirational quotes written on them in the hotel rooms of his players.

Controversies: Alleged to have kept talented batsman, Raees Mohammad, out of the team to keep his friend, Maqsood Ahmad, in.

Captaincy peaks: Led Pakistan to its first Test win against India in 1952. Squared Pakistan’s first series against England 1-1 after being 1-0 down in 1954.

Standing with Pakistan PM Khawaja Nazimuddin and some of his players in 1953.

Waving to the crowd after leveling the series against England in 1954.


5: Javed Miandad

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Right-Handed Batsman; Occasional Right-Arm-Leg-Break. 

Captaincy Record: 35 Tests. 14 Won; 5 Lost; 14 Draw.

Captaincy tenures: 1980-82; 1985; 1990; 1992-93.

From: Karachi (Sindh)

Captaincy style: Innovative; confrontational; ‘street-smart.’

Controversies: Got into a physical altercation with Australian fast bowler, Dennis Lillee in 1981. Had a falling out with Majid Khan during the same tour. Both players never spoke again – even while batting together. Faced a players’ rebellion in 1982 and then again in 1993.

Captaincy peaks: Swept the 1990 series against New Zealand, 3-0. Won 2-1 against England in England in 1992. Introduced off-spinner Tauseef Ahmad and fast bowler, Wasim Akram.

Confronting the umpire in New Zealand in 1985.

Exchanging a few pleasantries with Ian Botham, England 1992.


6: Wasim Akram

All-Rounder. Left-Handed Batsman; Left-Arm-Fast.

Captaincy Record: 25 Tests. 12 Won; 8 Lost; 5 Drawn.

Captaincy tenures: 1993-94; 1995-96; 1997-99.

From: Lahore (Punjab)

Captaincy style: Aggressive; flamboyant; confrontational. Often accused of cussing the players.

Controversies: Led rebellion (with Waqar Younus) against Javed Minadad’s captaincy in 1993. Faced a players’ rebellion himself in 1994. Was arrested with four other players for smoking marijuana on a beach during Pakistan’s 1993 tour of the West Indies. Had tense relations with fellow fast bowler, Waqar Younus and coach, Javed Miandad.

Captaincy peaks: Won series against England in England in 1996. Squared a series and then won the Asian Test Championship in India during peak political tensions between India and Pakistan in 1999.

Not amused.

During the tense 1999 tour of India.


7: Inzimam-ul-Haq

Right-Handed Batsman.

Captaincy Record: 31 Tests. 11 Won; 11 Lost; 9 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure: 2003-2007

From: Multan (Punjab)

Captaincy style: Understated; defensive; diplomatic. Utilized religious sermons and rituals to exercise control over a volatile team.

Controversies: Was alleged to have kept Misbah-ul-Haq out of the squad ‘because he was more educated and urbane’ and ‘could threaten his captaincy.’ Frequently clashed with fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar because he refused to conform to Inzimam’s tactics. Fortified a Test against England in protest.

Captaincy peaks: Squared a tough series against India (in India) in 2004-5 after being one-down.

With the Indian captain, Sourav Ganguly, in 2004.

About to lead the team off in protest during the fortified Test against England.


8: Waqar Younus

Right-Handed Batsman. Right-Arm-Fast. 

Captaincy Record: 17 Tests. 10 Won; 7 Lost.

Captaincy tenure: 1993; 2001-2003.

From: Vihari (Punjab)

Captaincy style: Attacking.

Controversies: Had tense relations with fellow fast bowler, Wasim Akram.

Captaincy peak: Drawing a series against England in England in 2001 in tough conditions.

With fellow fast bowler, Wasim Akram.

With his men.


9: Salim Malik

Right-Handed Batsman. Occasional Right-Arm-Medium-Fast.  

Captaincy Record: 12 Tests. 7 Won; 3 Lost; 2 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure: 1994-95.

From: Lahore (Punjab)

Captaincy style: Calm; aloof; discreet.

Controversies: Was banned for life after being accused of match-fixing.

Captaincy peak: Winning a tense series against Australia in 1994.

Celebrates with the team after defeating Australia by just 1 wicket in Karachi (1994).

Banned.


10: Hanif Mohammad

Right-Handed Batsman. Occasional Wicket-Keeper.

Captaincy Record: 11 Tests. 2 Won; 2 Lost; 7 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure: 1962-67.

From: Karachi (Sindh)

Captaincy style: Defensive; aloof.

Controversies: Accused former Pakistan captain, AH Kardar, and batsman, Saeed Ahmad, for engineering his ouster as captain.

Captaincy peak: A 2-0 series win against New Zealand in 1964.

During his last Test as captain, England, 1967.


The Middle 5

11:  Moin Khan

Right-Handed Batsman.  Wicketkeeper.

Captaincy Record: 13 Tests. 4 Won; 2 Lost; 7 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure: 1997; 1999; 2000-2001.

From: Karachi (Sindh)

Captaincy style: Attacking; ‘Street-smart.’

Controversies: Applied deliberate delaying tactics to stop England from chasing a target in fading light during a Test in Karachi in 2000-1. England won.

Captaincy peak: Won series against Sri Lanka 2-0 in 2000.

Umpire Steve Bucknor is not happy with captain Moin Khan’s delaying tactics during the 2000 Test match against England in Karachi.

Moin during his last series as captain. It was against New Zealand in 2001.


12:  Fazal Mahmood

Right-Handed Batsman. Right-Arm-Medium.

Captaincy Record: 10 Tests. 2 Won; 2 Lost; 6 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure: 1958-61.

From: Lahore (Punjab)

Captaincy style: Defensive; aloof.

Controversies: Was accused of spending more time attending parties than planning for the matches during the 1960-61 tour of India.

Captaincy peak: Won a home series against a strong West Indian side in 1959.

Fazal meets US President Eisenhower at Karachi’s National Stadium. The President came to watch the start of the first Test of Pakistan’s 1958-9 series against Australia. It was also Mahmood’s first Test as captain.

Fazal at a party with some Indian film stars during Pakistan’s 1961 tour of India. This was Fazal’s last as captain.


13: Zaheer Abbas

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Right-Handed Batsman.

Captaincy Record: 14 Tests. 3 Won; 1 Lost; 10 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure: 1983-4.

From: Lahore (Punjab)

Captaincy style: Defensive; aloof.

Controversies: The 1984 series against New Zealand in Pakistan was noisily criticized by the NZ captain for being ‘tilted towards Pakistan’s favor through biased umpiring.’ Pakistan won the series 2-0. The NZ skipper Jeremey Coney hinted that Pakistan would face similar umpiring when they tour NZ. Zaheer promptly resigned as captain just before Pakistan’s 1985 tour of NZ. And when he did join the tour (as Vice-Captain), he sent leg-spinner Abdul Qadir home after the spinner refused to follow Zaheer’s instructions during a side game.

Captaincy peak: Defeating New Zealand 2-0 in 1984.

Zaheer during the controversial 1984 series against New Zealand. It was his last as captain.


14: Sarfraz Ahmad

Right-Handed Batsman. Wicketkeeper.

Captaincy Record: 12 Tests. 4 Won; 7 Lost; 1 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure: 2017-Present.

From: Karachi (Sindh)

Captaincy style: Attacking; impatient; ‘Street-Smart.’

Controversies: During consistent batting failures of the team during 2018-19 series against South Africa, Sarfraz ended up blaming his bowlers. They were not amused.

Captaincy peak: 1-1 series against England in England in 2018.

Sarfraz walks off after a press conference feeling disappointed that the team was not able to dislodge Australia in Dubai in 2018. Pakistan were set to win the Test.


15: Rashid Latif

Right-Handed-Batsman. Wicketkeeper

Captaincy Record: 6 Tests. 4 Won; 1 Lost; 1 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure:  1997-98; 2003-4.

From: Karachi (Sindh)

Captaincy style: Attacking; Confrontational.

Controversies: Claimed a false catch during the 2003-4 series against Bangladesh. He was penalized before being removed as captain.

Captaincy peak: 3-0 sweep against Bangladesh in 2003-4.

The false catch that ended Rashid’s captaincy.


The Last 17

17: Salman Butt

Left-Handed-Batsman.

Captaincy Record: 5 Tests. 2 Won; 3 Lost; 0 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure:  2010.

From: Lahore (Punjab)

Captaincy style: Cautious.

Controversies: Was banned and jailed on spot-fixing charges during the 2010 series against England.

Captaincy peak: Squared 2010 series against Australia in 2010 (played in England).

Butt was banned for 7 years and spent some time in a jail in England for spot-fixing.


18: Intikhab Alam

All-Rounder. Right-Handed-Batsman. Right-Arm-Leg-Break.

Captaincy Record: 17 Tests. 1 Won; 5 Lost; 11 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure:  1971-73; 1974-76.

From: Lahore (Punjab)

Captaincy style: Defensive.

Controversies: Tried to leverage his friendship with chief of the Pakistan cricket board, A H. Kardar, to retain his captaincy and not be replaced by Mushtaq Mohammad in 1976.

Captaincy peak: Won the first Test series for Pakistan in 1973 after the team had failed to win one between 1964 and 1972. Squared the series 0-0 in England just before the same England squad had blown away India 3-0.

Intikhab with AH Kardar and Australian great Don Bradman during Pakistan’s 1972 tour of Australia.

Intikhab with Mushtaq Mohammad. Relations between them were largely strained.


19: Muhammad Yousaf

Right-Handed-Batsman.

Captaincy Record: 9 Tests. 2 Won; 6 Lost; 1 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure:  2003; 2004; 2009-2010.

From: Lahore (Punjab)

Captaincy style: Insipid; Defensive.

Controversies: During his first full series as captain in 2009 (against New Zealand) approached the NZ captain Denial Vettori and asked him if he would be willing to listen to a religious sermon. Vettori politely declined.

Captaincy peak: Squared series against NZ in 2009.


20: Rameez Raja

Right-Handed-Batsman.

Captaincy Record: 5 Tests. 1 Won; 2 Lost; 2 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure:  1995-96; 1997.

From: Lahore (Punjab)

Captaincy style: Defensive.

Controversies: None.


21: Younus Khan

Right-Handed-Batsman.

Captaincy Record: 9 Tests. 1 Won; 3 Lost; 5 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure:  2004; 2006; 2008-2009.

From: Mardan (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa)

Captaincy style: Attacking; Impulsive.

Controversies: Resigned from the captaincy after claiming that a group of players were not cooperating with him.


22: Aamir Sohail

Left-Handed-Batsman. Occasional Left-Arm-Spin

Captaincy Record: 6 Tests. 1 Won; 2 Lost; 3 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure:  1998.

From: Lahore (Punjab)

Captaincy style: Temperamental.

Controversies: Accused the selectors of refusing to give him the side he wanted to field. Resigned in anger.


23: Saeed Anwar

Left-Handed-Batsman.

Captaincy Record: 7 Tests. 1 Won; 4 Lost; 2 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure:  1997; 1999.

From: Karachi (Sindh)

Captaincy style: Defensive; Insipid.

Controversies:  None.


24: Wasim Bari

Right-Handed-Batsman. Wicketkeeper.

Captaincy Record: 6 Tests. 0 Won; 2 Lost; 3 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure: 1977-78.

From: Karachi (Sindh)

Captaincy style: Defensive.

Controversies: None.


25: Asif Iqbal

Right-Handed-Batsman. Occasional Right-Arm-Medium.

Captaincy Record: 6 Tests. 0 Won; 2 Lost; 4 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure:  1979.

From: Karachi (Sindh)

Captaincy style: Defensive; Aloof.

Controversies: Was alleged to have ‘maneuvered Mushtaq Mohammad’s ouster as captain.’ Refused to take Sarfaraz Nawaz to India in 1979 because ‘he was uncontrollable’.

Iqbal during his first and last series as captain (India, 1979).


26: Shoaib Malik

Right-Handed-Batsman. Occasional Right-Arm-Off.

Captaincy Record: 3 Tests. 0 Won; 2 Lost; 1 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure:  2007-2008.

From: Sialkot (Punjab)

Captaincy style: Mercurial.

Controversies: Resigned from the captaincy after clashing with the cricket board.


27: Saeed Ahmad

Right-Handed-Batsman.

Captaincy Record: 3 Tests. 0 Won; 0 Lost; 3 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure: 1968.

From: Lahore (Punjab)

Captaincy style: Mercurial.

Controversies: Clashed with the selectors during his very first Test as captain. Was considered to be ‘selfish’ by teammates. Was booed by the crowds in Karachi after section of Karachi press claimed he had ‘conspired’ to oust Hanif Mohammad as captain.


28: Imtiaz Ahmad

Right-Handed-Batsman. Wicket-keeper.

Captaincy Record: 3 Tests. 0 Won; 2 Lost; 1 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure:  1959; 1961-2.

From: Lahore (Punjab)

Captaincy style: Defensive.

Controversies: None.


29: Majid Khan

Right-Handed-Batsman. Occasional Right-Arm-Off and Wicketkeeper.

Captaincy Record: 3 Tests. 0 Won; 0 Lost; 3 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure: 1973.

From: Lahore (Punjab)

Captaincy style: Defensive; Insipid.

Controversies: None.


30: Azhar Ali

Right-Handed-Batsman. Occasional Right-Arm-Medium/Leg-Break.

Captaincy Record: 1 Tests. 0 Won; 1 Lost; 0 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure:  2016.

From: Lahore (Punjab)

Captaincy style: Defensive; Insipid.

Controversies:  None.


31: Shahid Afridi

Right-Handed-Batsman. Right-Arm-Leg-Break.

Captaincy Record: 1 Tests. 0 Won; 1 Lost; 0 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure:  2010.

From: FATA (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa)/Karachi (Sindh).

Captaincy style: Mercurial.

Controversies: Resigned from captaincy after his very first Test as captain in the middle of a tour (to England).


32: Javed Burki

Right-Handed-Batsman.

Captaincy Record: 5 Tests. 0 Won; 4 Lost; 1 Drawn.

Captaincy tenure: 1962.

From: Lahore (Punjab).

Captaincy style: Rigid; Aloof.

Controversies: Had a falling out with senior players during the 1962 tour of England. Formed a clique of players around him and used them to communicate with the senior players he had had a falling out with.

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3 Comments

  1. Manoj January 9, 2019

    Miandad should be number one, IK second and Misbah third!

    Reply
  2. Sajid Butt January 9, 2019

    Salman Butt should have been last on the list

    Reply
  3. Umair January 19, 2019

    You cannot just take the number of wins into the account to check the performances of these players, in old days there used to be more draws in a series. Misbah has only performed in UAE and has only one or two away series in his caps, which he won against baby teams like West Indies.
    Imran on the other hand played against some of the most formidable teams of that era, he defeated England in England, India in India, squared a series against mighty West Indies sides.
    Wasim and waqar are not the only players that Imran introduced, you forgot to mention Moin Khan, Saeed Anwar and Inzimam, also Misbah lost 19 test Matches and Imran only lost 8 test Matches…
    So seriously cannot understand why you would rate Misbah above Miandad and Imran Khan

    Reply

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