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No easy job being the captain

Sitting in a room on level three at the Gabba, match referee Mike Procter carefully pored over the ICC handbook. He read, and re-read the clauses about the captain's role and then, putting the book down, said decisively: "It is quite clear. The captain is the boss.

india Updated: Dec 08, 2003 07:20 IST

Sitting in a room on level three at the Gabba, match referee Mike Procter carefully pored over the ICC handbook. He read, and re-read the clauses about the captain's role and then, putting the book down, said decisively: "It is quite clear. The captain is the boss. Besides running his team on the field he has added responsibility towards the game."

This includes ensuring 90 overs are gone through each day and if they are not he pays double the financial fine his mates attract -- for five short, he loses half his match fees. The captain must also protect and nurture the spirit of cricket, and maintain its traditions and values.

While captains have more to do, the role of referees has shrunk. Earlier, they were super thanedars, part of ICC's police force to ensure law and order. To do this, they could lay charges against players for breaches and also pass judgment.

Now, with the scope reduced, they come into play only when umpires complain. Their power to initiate independent action is restricted to tracking over rates and looking out for illegal bowling actions.

Current players, says Procter (who recently spent 10 days in hospital for knee replacement surgery, after five failed previous operations), are more aware of what is expected. We are moving towards golf and tennis which rely on higher self regulation and greater understanding.

International captains know their roles have expanded. Gone are days when the skipper, as a Field Marshal in battle, called the shots and ordered fielders around. He still does that, all alone because there is no earplug through which the coach can communicate, nor does anyone from beyond the boundary helpfully push buttons on a remote to make his job easier.

The contemporary captain is actually a cricketing all-rounder. As the sport becomes high profile and attracts greater attention, he becomes not just the face of the team but the representative (and hope) of the nation. More than captain, he is now a leader of men.

Buchanan equates a cricket captain to a corporate chief because both aim to maximise results by combining group skills. The only difference is one deals in profits, the other is looking for performance of a different kind.

This managerial theory conforms to Infosys chief Narayanmurthy's views on leadership. The captain of any team, he says, must display courage, commitment, vision and raise the collective level of aspiration.

Observers feel Steve Waugh meets these yardsticks, he is modern cricket's elder statesman - savvy, combative, forward thinking and progressive. Sourav, aggressive and abrasive, is different - he is Dada (elder brother) to his team, danda to the other team.

Of course, captaincy styles depend as much on the individual's personality as on the cricket culture of a country.

First Published: Dec 08, 2003 00:07 IST