One Day Cricket has been with us now for over 50 years and in that time we’ve seen some teams come through to dominate the format. But who have been the most prolific captains in that time?
Most Matches as Captain in ODI – Chart
This top 20 chart lists the men who have skippered more ODIs than anyone else and it also takes a look at their records over that time.
1. Ricky Ponting
It’s natural that a captain stays in charge of a team because they have a strong captaincy record. If they were losing every match, they would simply be removed from their duties.
Even with that simple concept in mind, Ricky Ponting’s statistics as skipper of Australia’s ODI unit are exceptional. In 230 matches in charge, ‘Punter Ponting’ won 165 games and lost just 51. His win percentage of 76.14 is higher than any other player who led a team for 85 matches or more.
Australia are the most successful team in this format with five World Cup wins to date and Ponting was at the helm for many of their notable triumphs. An inspirational skipper, he also led by example with 13,704 ODI runs and 30 centuries.
2. Stephen Fleming
New Zealand’s Stephen Fleming is next on the list after leading the Kiwis for 218 ODI games between 1997 and 2007. His win percentage of 48.04 is the lowest of any player in the top ten but that doesn’t quite tell the full story.
When Fleming took over the captaincy in 1997, New Zealand were at the bottom of the rankings in test cricket and were struggling in ODIs too. From that low point, he began to build a team that would start to compete for trophies in the limited overs formats.
He was a brilliant player too; an elegant left handed batsman who made over 8,000 ODI runs with eighth centuries.
3. MS Dhoni
He remains a hero to all Indian cricket fans and was in charge for the country’s most recent triumphs in this format. Behind the stumps, MS Dhoni was a calm head and he was so effective during the later stages of a match.
Whether he was orchestrating proceedings in the field or chasing down a target with the bat, there were few cricketers who could match Dhoni’s skills at the death. As captain, he led India in 200 matches, winning 110 for a win percentage of 59.52.
4. Arjuna Ranatunga
A feisty captain who stood firm against opponents and umpires alike, Arjuna Ranatunga led Sri Lanka to their greatest ever triumph when they won the World Cup in 1996.
He was credited for leading a team which transformed ODI cricket with pinch hitters and the aim of scoring heavily in the powerplay overs. From 1990 to 1999, Ranatunga led the Sri Lankans in 193 ODIs, winning 89 for a win percentage of 48.37.
5. Allan Border
Allan Border is credited for transforming Australian cricket and he was in charge when the country won its first ODI World Cup back in 1987. He was a combative player and, when he had the right team behind him, he became arguably the best leader Australia ever had.
Border skippered the side in 178 One Day games, winning 107 which equates to an excellent win percentage of 61.42.
6. Mohammad Azharuddin
A man who enjoyed a long, 16-year international career, Mohammad Azharuddin led India at a time when it developed some of its greatest ever players. He was a cultured batsman who made over 9,000 ODI runs but he will be best remembered for his great leadership.
Azharuddin captained India in 174 games, winning 90 and earning a healthy win percentage of 54.16.
7. Graeme Smith
Graeme Smith became South Africa’s youngest ever international captain when he led the side against Bangladesh at 22 years and 82 days. He was still very raw but had shown great promise as a batsman, making 200 in just his third test.
In limited overs cricket, Smith wasn’t the fastest scorer but he proved to be a brilliant leader. Between 2003 and 2011, he skippered in 150 ODIs, winning 92 and losing 51. His win percentage came out at a respectable 64.23.
8. Sourav Ganguly
Between Mohammad Azharuddin and MS Dhoni, Sourav Ganguly took on the challenge of captaining India’s ODI team. He was a brilliant left handed batter and could also take vital wickets with his medium pace.
Ganguly will be remembered as a feisty individual who skippered in 147 One Day Internationals. He won 76 of those games with 66 defeats and five no results which all equates to a win percentage of 53.52.
9. Imran Khan
Like others on this list, Pakistan’s Imran Khan was in charge when the country secured its greatest ever cricketing triumph. Imran was skipper when a backs-to-the-wall effort saw his country win the ODI World Cup in 1992.
The final against England was one of 75 victories secured by Captain Imran in 139 games. He suffered 59 losses for a win percentage of 55.92.
10. WJ Cronje
It’s a great shame that Hansie Cronje’s tenure as South African captain will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. The infamous match fixing scandals of the late 1990’s will undoubtedly define this period and will continue to mask the fact that he was an effective cricketer and a good leader when he focused on playing it fair.
The bare statistics show that Cronje led South Africa in 138 ODIs between 1994 and 2000. His teams won 99 of those games which means that his win percentage of 73.70 is second only to Ricky Ponting among players in the top ten.
It’s always interesting to look through these top 20 charts to see just who comes through at the top. Some of the names offer no surprises while others are unexpected.
All of these players were great leaders in their own right and, while they were in charge of formidable ODI units, those teams couldn’t have succeeded without an effective skipper.
Effectiveness can be measured in a number of ways, but to find the best captains in cricket our best shot is to take a look at the winning percentages, as seen in the article linked above.