Johannesburg - Having different captains for the three different formats is “not ideal” for the long term, national selection convener Andrew Hudson said on Tuesday, when Hashim Amla was confirmed as South Africa’s Test captain.
In an interview with website cricinfo.com, former international Daryll Cullinan said having three captains would cause confusion.
Confusion? I’m not so sure.
Cricket’s unique among the major sports in that it has three different formats, each with contrasting demands placed on players and the coaching staff, who devise tactics.
Nowadays some players almost become ‘specialists’ in different formats. Kieron Pollard, for example, has played 85 ODIs and 37 T20 Inter-nationals but zero Test matches for West Indies.
Cricket can often be too precious about itself. Why not have three captains for the different formats?
There have been great captains through the years, players with huge personalities who came to dominate an era in cricket in their respective countries. Be it Clive Lloyd in the West Indies, Allan Border in Australia, Stephen Fleming in New Zealand and Graeme Smith here.
But times change, the sport of cricket has changed, the demands on players and coaches have changed.
In one respect, I can understand critics of South Africa’s ‘three captains’ ploy who say the South African team doesn’t play enough to warrant any concern over burn-out for a particular captain. They’ll point to a Mahendra Singh Dhoni, how he’s won every title there is to win in cricket and say, “if he can, why not AB or Hash?”
To which the answer should be: Different people, different players, different country.
Players are constantly asked to shift between the different formats in a very short space of time.
In the 20 years since South Africa returned to the international sporting fold, cricket has changed. The advent of T20 has been the biggest change obviously, but think about how one-day cricket has shifted with power plays, fielding restrictions and ‘free hits’.
I don’t mind the three captains ploy - certainly not as much as Hudson - and I don’t think it should be ‘confusing’ for professional sportsmen in the 21st century.
Amla’s decision (a change of mind) to make himself available as captain is certainly an interesting one and the reasons he’s done it point to a player who wants to continue challenging himself and wants to continue adding value.
For a country not usually given to trying something new, this three captains ploy is worth a look, at least in the short term.