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Jasprit Bumrah joins a rare club of pacer Test captains

Last updated on 30 Jun 2022 | 12:55 PM
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Jasprit Bumrah joins a rare club of pacer Test captains

With Rohit Sharma out, Jasprit Bumrah is set to become India’s Test skipper for the fifth Test against England

The last time India had a pacer as their Test captain, the year was 1987, when Kapil Dev walked out for the last time as India’s Test skipper. 

35 years after Dev’s reign as India’s Test captain, there is likely to be an entrant to that rare club. In the wake of Rohit Sharma still not fully having recovered from COVID-19, Jasprit Bumrah is set to take over as India’s designated skipper for the fifth Test at Edgbaston, starting July 1.

And, Bumrah not only follows the footpaths of the Haryana Hurricane but joins a rare club of pacers, who have captained their side at the Test level. 

Imran Khan - Pakistan, 1982-1992, Matches 48, Win % 29.1 

Imran Khan’s influence as Pakistan’s skipper is etched in the country’s history books. However, the all-rounder’s impact as a captain was most prevalent in the white-ball format, where he led the Asian side to the World Cup win in 1992. However, as a Test captain, the now Pakistan Prime Minister averaged better as a bowler than when he was just a player.

As a Test captain, the all-rounder picked up 187 wickets, averaging an outstanding 20.26 in the longest format, with 12 five-wicket hauls. In comparison, as just a player, his average was 25.53 with 11 five-wicket hauls. With 14 wins as a Test skipper, Khan still stands as the joint second-best skipper for Pakistan, influencing the likes of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis to take up captaincy in the future.

Kapil Dev - India, 1983-1987, Matches 34, Win % 11.7

Until Kapil Dev took over the leadership role, India was just another team on the cricketing map. India has had a long history of cricketing culture, with several top-class stars but Dev’s cricketing brain was unique. Incidentally, he is also India’s only pace-bowler to have been a captain, as Bumrah is set to follow suit. 

As a captain though, like Khan, his record wasn’t ideal, as his team only won on four occasions across the 34 Tests that he led the team in. But culturally, Dev brought about a revolution in Indian cricket, as a pace-bowler and a captain, inspiring the younger generation. During his stint as a captain, the right-arm pacer picked up 111 wickets, averaging 26.35 against 30.78 that he averaged as just a player. 

Shaun Pollock - South Africa, 2000-2003, Matches 26, Win % 53.8

Although not as popular as the other captains on the list, Shaun Pollock’s reign as a captain came at a time when South African cricket needed it the most. The all-rounder was thrusted into captaincy in April 2000, after the Hansie Cronje episode. In just five years-time, Pollock went from forming a destructive bowling partnership with Allan Donald to becoming the Proteas skipper. 

Pollock’s time as a skipper was comparatively short-lived but the start to his reign was one with instant impact. The all-rounder led the Proteas to three wins in his first five Tests as a captain. Barring the disastrous series against Australia, Pollock’s reign was rather a successful one for South Africa. His bowling too improved as he led the side, with 103 wickets, at an average of 21.36. 

His win percentage too stands at an impressive 53.8% but the exit in the 2003 World Cup at home meant that he never saw another day as the Proteas captain. 

Wasim Akram – Pakistan, 1993-1999 – Matches 25, Win % 48

Wasim Akram followed the footsteps of Imran Khan, as Pakistan’s Test skipper. Although his stint as a captain was only 25 Tests, his impact as a Test skipper was huge in the context of continuing the Khan-legacy. The left-arm pacer picked up 107 wickets as the skipper, averaging a sharp 23.35, with three five-wicket hauls.

His captaincy stint started with a glaring series loss at the hands of the West Indies. However, after that, there were multiple historical wins for the left-arm pacer, with Pakistan winning in Sydney, Christchurch and later, London. In fact, in the 1996 series, Pakistan registered two impressive wins in London. His reign as a skipper though came to an end in 1999, on the back of the three losses against Australia, but Akram is still Pakistan’s fourth-best Test skipper.

Jason Holder - West Indies, 2015-20 – Matches 37, Win% 29.7

Jason Holder’s era as a Test captain was much sought-after. He was hailed as one of West Indies’ biggest talents in the last era and the fact that he was a true all-rounder, increased the expectations. But what transpired wasn’t what the selectors would have expected when he was made the skipper. Holder’s era as Test captain lasted 37 Tests, with only 11 wins and a win percentage of 29.7. 

During his time as captain, Holder picked up 100 wickets, averaging 26.76, better than his numbers not as a captain. Not just that, as a skipper, he had picked up seven five-wicket hauls in the longest format. However, his era wasn’t too long as he was later replaced by Kraigg Brathwaite. 

Pat Cummins – Australia, 2022-now – Matches 8*, Win% 50Don’t forget Pat Cummins. After the infamous episode surrounding Tim Paine, Australian selectors decided to make pacer Pat Cummins their next skipper. Following the footsteps of Ray Lindwall, Cummins became the second frontline pace bowler to captain the Kangaroos. In just his short captaincy stint thus far, the all-rounder has two series wins over England and Pakistan. 

While under his captaincy, Australia completed an impressive 4-0 series win at home over England, his team etched history with their 1-0 series win in Pakistan. In just 15 innings, the right-arm pacer has picked up 34 wickets, averaging 19.8, showing how pacers could very well be good captains, joining the rare club of pace-bowling Test skippers. 

*All stats updated before the first Test between Sri Lanka and Australia

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