Saturday, April 13

Top 5 Test captains and their toughest touring country

Ricky Ponting. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Test cricket is slowly becoming home side favoured format as the win percentage of the visiting sides has gradually decreased. This trend started in the last decade after the visiting teams had a fair amount of success for years.

However, some of the top captains of the previous eras did have a black spot. Some of them managed to conquer many countries but some turn out to be a headache. A couple of top captains failed to win even a Test match despite multiple tours

Here we look at some of the top captains in Test cricket who have a dubious record in an away country:

5. Michael Vaughan in Sri Lanka – 6 Tests:

England v Pakistan: 2nd Test - Day Three
Michael Vaughan. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Sri Lanka was a dominant team at home until the recent decade as even the best of the visiting teams in the World struggled to win even one Test in Sri Lanka. The presence of Muttiah Muralitharan, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Sanath Jayasuriya made life hard for the visitors.

The Michael Vaughan-led England team was no different from the other. Vaughan was the captain in six Tests across two tours but failed to win even one match. England held on to draw in the first two matches of the 2003 Test series as they were 1 and 3 wickets respectively away from a defeat.

However, the Lankans thumped them by innings margin in the final Test to win the series. England’s 3-match series in the 2007 tour began with an 88-run defeat in Kandy before the next two matches ended in a draw. The result could have been in the side of Sri Lanka as both those Tests were affected by rain.

4. Ricky Ponting in India – 7 Tests:

Ricky Ponting, Australia
Ricky Ponting. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Ricky Ponting has left pain on numerous occasions to the Indian team and their supporters with his exceptional batting performances irrespective of the tournament. Even during poor batting, Ponting used to trouble the Indian bowlers.

But as captain of Australia, Ponting failed to win a Test match on Indian soil. He led the Aussies in seven Tests across three tours but was not lucky enough to taste success. Ponting was actually the captain on Australia during their victorious 2004 Test tour.

But he missed the first three Tests after breaking his thumb during the Champions Trophy held just before this Test series. Australia took a series-winning lead of 2-0 by end of the 3rd Test under Adam Gilchrist. Ponting returned for the final Test in Mumbai where they dramatically collapsed chasing a target of 107. During the 2008 tour, the Aussies lost the 4-match Test series by 0-2 margin while Ponting’s last Indian Test tour in 2010 ended with a score-line of 2-0 in favour of the hosts.

Ponting played a total of 14 Tests in India out of which he was part of victorious side only twice while the Aussies lost 10 of the remaining 12 games. Australia won the Bangalore Test in 1998 after India won the first two games of the 3-match series and also the 2001 Mumbai Test before India took the series away. Ponting has forgettable batting numbers in India as he managed to score only 662 runs across 25 Test innings at a poorly average of 26.48.

3. Sunil Gavaskar in Pakistan – 8 Tests:

Sunil Gavaskar
Sunil Gavaskar. (Photo by David Munden/Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

India holds an edge over Pakistan in the past couple of decades but it was all about Pakistan domination until the early 2000s. Before the turn of the 21st century, Pakistan used to surpass Indian team in the longer format. Often it used to be one-sided whenever both the teams played Test cricket in Pakistan. Sunil Gavaskar is experienced to this fact as he failed to lead India to a win in the 8 Tests across two series he captained on Pakistan soil.

India toured Pakistan for a 6-match Test series during the 1982-83 tour, months before their victorious 1983 World Cup campaign. The series was won by Pakistan quite comfortably winning three Tests; all in a succession that too by huge margins.

Another three Tests ended in a draw where Pakistan only had higher chances of a win. India managed to hold on to a draw during the 2-match Test series in 1984 under Gavaskar.

India survived being put to follow-on during the first Test of the 1984 series but took lead in the 2nd Test where no more than two innings took place. Gavaskar never managed to be part of a winning Indian side in a Test match on Pakistan soil as he was part of 0-2 defeat in the 3-match Test series in 1978.

However, Gavaskar has an impressive batting record in Pakistan having scored 1001 Test runs at an average of 58.88 with help of three hundreds while no other visiting player even scored 900 runs.

2. Stephen Fleming in Australia – 8 Tests:

Stephen Fleming
Stephen Fleming. (Photo by Ross Setford/Getty Images)

New Zealand has often been under the grasp of the Australians irrespective of the format the two sides have come up against. In the longer format, it has always been one-sided just like the recent 3-match Test series in the 2019-20 season.

Even a reliable captain like Stephen Fleming couldn’t turn the fate of Blackcaps against their neighbouring nation. Fleming led the Kiwis in as many as eight Tests across three series on the Australian soil but failed to lead them to win even once.

New Zealand lost in Brisbane and Perth during the 3-match series in the 1997 tour. The final Test in Hobart gave an opportunity for New Zealand who needed to chase 288 in around 61 overs. The game was affected by rain and teams declared little early to produce a result. New Zealand got to 72/0 in around 10 overs but finished with 223/9. The Blackcaps returned to Australia in 2001 to play a 3-match Test series which ended in a draw as all game finished in a draw only.

New Zealand had their moments in the series as they made 274/6 chasing 284 in the rain-affected Brisbane Test. In the final game of the series, Australia held on to a draw as they scored 381/7 chasing 440 to win.

The Aussies were pushed to fight for a draw once they lost their 7th wicket as they made 26 runs in the last 10.4 overs of the game without losing a wicket. Fleming’s last Test tour of Australia in 2004 was a forgettable one as the New Zealanders lost both games of the series by a big margin.

1. Brian Lara in South Africa – 9 Tests:

Brian Lara
West Indies former player Brian Lara. (Photo by IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Brian Lara turned out to the first Test captain of West Indies on South African soil as the Caribbean team made their first tour to South Africa in 1998 only. The West Indians featured in a 5-match Test series during the 1998-99 tour spread over two months.

Unfortunately, the visitors failed to win even one match in this series. The first game in Johannesburg was the closest game as the Proteas won by 4 wickets.

South Africa won the 3rd Test by nine wickets in Durban while the remaining Tests in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Centurion by an excess of 140 runs. They returned in 2003-04 season under Lara’s captaincy for a 4-match Test series but the losing story repeated. They were 0-2 down after losing the first two Tests in Johannesburg and Durban respectively extending their losing streak in South Africa to 7 Tests.

The 3rd Test in Cape Town ended in a draw bringing an end to West Indies’ losing streak but the series ended with 8th defeat in 9 matches as they lost Centurion Test by a 10-wicket margin.

Thus, with 0 wins in 9 Tests on the South African soil, Lara holds the record of being the captain for most Test matches in an away country without winning even one. Lara, however, scored 841 runs at an average of 46.72 with two centuries including a double century.

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