What is better for captaincy: confidence or arrogance? Or a bit of both?


Richard Marlow is an Aussie currently volunteering for a year as an education monitor in the North West Territories of Canada, high above the Arctic Circle. He’s also an Almanacker – and a Tigers man!


According to Eddie Jones’ latest book, My Life and Rugby: The Autobiography, there must be a balance in how captains do their job. He liked Ian Chappell – his style and the way he played the game within the rules.


So tell me, what do you fellow Almanackers think of my observations of these skippers?

Steve Smith – perhaps overconfident, better without responsibility

Ricky Ponting – balanced

Mark Taylor – too soft

Allan Border – was he too arrogant – particularly in the ’89 Ashes ‘Captain Grumpy’ years

Steve Waugh – tough but fair

Tim Paine – got the balance right in a tough situation

Graham Yallop – a lamb to the slaughter – what a great name for the book about that series way back during the Packer revolution when England smashed the young Aussies who didn’t sign up to WSC

Kim Hughes – lack of confidence in spite of being a dynamic batsman

Ian Chappell and Tony Greig – partied hard, played hard but respected the opposition, played fair within the  rules

Bob Simpson – tough but fair

Bob Willis – balanced

Ian Botham – too arrogant, too much one of the boys

Adam Gilchrist – right balance, not enough opportunity

Michael Clarke – was he not one of the boys?

Aussie Rules – because it is the Footy Almanac after all

Trent Cotchin –  too young and soft to start with but has matured and is tough (had to get a Richmond player in somewhere!!!)

Michael Voss –  tough but fair like his coach Leigh Matthews





You can read other posts by Richard Marlow by clicking here.


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About Richard Marlow

a humble middle-years teacher in a “middle of the road” private school in Brisbane having being a pastor, a youth worker, a school chaplain, a bank johnnie – 3 different banks, worked in Jails, driven a cab and been in bands amongst other things.


  1. Shane John Backx says

    There is no place for arrogance anywhere or anytime. To quote the great Norm Smith, ” humble in victory gracious in defeat.”

  2. John Butler says

    Richard, I reckon the context captains operate in has to be considered when assessing them. Did Kim Hughes ever really stand a chance in the post-World Series Cricket days, without the support of senior players?

    I reckon a better word for Steve Smith as captain is unworldly, rather than overconfident. Though one can lead to the other.

    An interesting discussion to have.


  3. Michael Voss – tough but fair like his coach Leigh Matthews – really? I seriously doubt that Barry Cable, Neville Bruns and a long list of other victims of the allegedly ‘tough but fair’ Lethal would concur with your assessment.

  4. Thanks Richard,
    Border seemed to be thrust into the role. Now he seems not at all grumpy compared to his playing days.
    Gooch was once enduring a torrid time here as England captain and batsman. He seemed to be carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. The press asked how he was feeling. He replied- “Im fine, just keeping up appearances”.
    Tactically, MJ Clarke seemed a good captain. Maybe, he wasnt one of the boys but seemed to have a hard edge.

  5. Left out Bill Lawry Richard? Not flamboyant or risk taker.

    On SPD. Smith – had no formal training about life other than cricket. A shocking choice but no one else except ” Good Old George Bailey” around at the time.
    Hughes, Yallop thrown to the wolves.
    Simpson – outstanding on return
    Kohl I – great skipper aloof but also one of the boys.
    Bradman – ??

  6. Interesting discussion point disagree strongly re Taylor for mine with Ian Chappell a outstanding captain.
    Some players would disagree re the fair part re Simpson.Cotchin is quite remarkable in how much he has improved from going that the tigers didn’t have any one as a suitable replacement to the outstanding captain in the game thanks,Richard

  7. I cannot agree that Taylor was “too soft”. Nor do I agree that Border was “too arrogant”. Border simply led by his deeds in a team that was mediocre at best until 1989.

    To fully appreciate just how good a captain Chappelli was, I recommend Mike Sexton’s excellent book “Chappelli’s Last Stand”.

  8. Richard, where does one of the great captains, RICHIE BENAUD fit in. For me, Richie and CHAPPELLI stand out. When we talk BRADMAN, there’s no doubting his standing as a truly outstanding batsman, but he had many distractors, Tiger O’Reilly for one.

    Victor Richardson, who played with and against Bradman had little time for the man as did his daughter who married Martin Chappell and gave birth to the famous Ian, Greg, and Trevor Chappell. Over money matters, he was a hypocrite. There were others but by now I think you have the picture.

  9. Did you see Ian Chappell on Home Delivery with Julia Zemiro? He told a story about an English supporter giving Bradman 1000 pounds after he scored 300 in a day on a tour of England – and how much did he share with his teammates? NIL, zilch, zero! Tiger O’Rielly thought he could have at least put 50 quid over the bar for his teammates even though none of them wanted to drink with him – seems he was respected but not liked.

  10. One of the great unwritten cricket books is “Bradman” by Gideon Haigh.
    Can you just imagine it?

  11. I thought Tubby was excellent. Ponting was frustrating. I reckon he let emotions rule at times.

    Chappelli was outstanding. Having said that he was very much in the alpha male clique. Tolerance was probably not one of his great strengths. But he knew what leading meant even if it wasn’t always popular. Good/ordinary player.

    In footy Hodge is the standout for me.

  12. I reckon Taylor was excellent: tactically clever and the beneficiary of Border’s dour work.

    Early in his captaincy Ponting was uncertain and deferred to his lieutenants too often. His decision to bowl at Edgbaston in 2005 after McGrath injured his ankle and England made 400 on the first day still bewilders me. He improved, but never seemed comfortable.

    As with Smith the best batsman isn’t necessarily the best option for captain. Is it really unthinkable that a bowler could be captain? Of course, SK Warne would’ve been brilliant.

  13. Greatest ever captains who werent given the job;
    Rodney Marsh instead of Kim Hughes
    Warne instead of Ponting but maybe Ponting was lower risk
    Dirk Wellham in the Mike Brearley mould. I think he captained two states.

  14. Ian Chappell and Tony Greig – “played hard but respected the opposition”. I have to disagree, I think there was ample evidence that Chappell did not rate Greig as a Test player, thought he was not up to scratch as either a bowler or batsman, let alone as Captain.

    For my money, of the list above, Ian Chappell and Steve Waugh first, daylight second.

  15. Ian Chappell, who I consider an outstanding captain, had a big advantage, he played under the great LES FAVELL,when he broke into SA’s side. Favell, a border line test cricketer , was a fantastic attacking cricketer who believed in giving the crowds, that actually followed Sheffield cricket in those days, their money’s worth.

    Incidentally, both Favell and Chappell were brilliant baseballers as well and were All Australians at that sport.

  16. Agreed, Fisho. Used to go to watch Shield matches, sitting under the huge Moreton Bay fig at the southern end. Favell would open the batting and either out for about 4 or make a 100. He was great entertainment and his policies were transferred en toto onto I. Chappell.

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