Only a few captains are able to lead from the front and inspire their teammates to follow suit. History will show various instances when a captain has inspired his team to great success on the back of their individual brilliance. On the other hand, some captains grow with responsibility and take their performance a few notches higher than as non-captain.
And a captain’s performance is extremely vital in a team sport like cricket as he has the majority of the say and even copes the blame if the team fares poorly.
Usually, in cricket, a batsman is preferred to lead as captain. But there have been exceptions such as Kapil Dev, Shaun Pollock, Wasim Akram, among others. So, when it comes to batsman-cum-captain, the leader is expected to deliver more with the bat than he would just as a regular player in the side.
Hence, there are few captains who have a better batting average as captain than as a non-captain. Cricwizz takes a look at top five captains who have the best batting average in Test cricket.
P.S (Minimum qualification: 10 Tests as skipper, stats till Nov 11, 2020)
Sir Don Bradman – 101.51
The Australian legend is hailed the best Test batsman ever, holding a career average of 99.94. He crosses the century mark as a captain. He averages 101.51 in 24 Tests as captain. He cracked four double tons as skipper, out of total 14 tons as captain.
He led from the front and when he was on a song and cracked daddy tons. In the 1947-48 Test series against India at home, he cracked four tons and one fifty in 6 innings at an average of 178.75 as a captain. He was also merciless against arch-rivals England as a skipper, cracking 10 tons in 19 Tests.
Steve Smith – 70.36
Smith started his career as a leg-spinner all-rounder. But soon he changed his focus to batting and emerged one of the best batsmen of his era.
But when he was handed out the captaincy, his batting performances reached great heights until he committed a blunder of tampering the ball. He was banned for a year and lost the captaincy as well on return.
Nevertheless, Smith is back to scoring runs in all formats of the game. As a non-captain, he averages 59.17, but as a skipper, he averages 70.36 with 15 tons in 34 Tests. He also has a healthy conversion rate as a captain, converting 15 out of total 28 scores of fifty into a ton.
Kumar Sangakkara – 69.60
The Sri Lankan keeper-batsman captained his national team in just 15 Tests, but did so with aplomb, leading from the front all the time. He averages 69.60 as skipper in Tests, compared to his career average of 55.95.
He cracked 7 tons in 15 Tests as skipper at close to 1 ton every 2 Tests. But as a non-captain, Sangakkara scored 31 tons in 119 Tests, close to 1 ton every 4 matches. It indicates Sangakkar raised his game as a captain-cum-batsman and led from the front all the time.
Virat Kohli – 63.69
No other player has raised their game as captain than Kohli in the current era. Kohli averaged a decent 41.13 as a middle-order batsman in Tests until his career graph took a big leap when he replaced MS Dhoni as a Test skipper in Dec 2014.
Close to five years later, Kohli now averages 63.69 in 51 Tests as a captain. During this phase, he has cracked 6 double tons, while none as non-captain.
His batting has elevated India to No 1 rank in Test cricket in the last few seasons. Kohli’s inspiring batting has spurred his teammates to play above par for the greater cause of the team’s success.
Thanks to his success as a captain-cum-batsman, his batting average overall has shot up to 54.77 in Tests.
Kane Williamson – 59.05
He, along with Kohli and Smith, are rated as the best batsmen in Test cricket currently. But unlike Kohli or Smith, Williamson has to wage a lone battle most of the times and still end up on the losing side.
But he has the respect of the world for his batting, leadership and the calmness he possesses despite meeting with heartbreaking losses quite often. The 2019 World Cup final is a case in point.
Nevertheless, Williamson enjoys a great record as a captain, averaging 59.05 with 7 tons in 26 Tests. As a non-captain, he averages 49.23 in 48 Tests.