Captains in only one Test

There are a total of 43 captains who led their Test teams only once. This is for data up to Dec 3, 2019 at the end of the Aus-Pak and NZ-Eng series.

In many cases they happened to captain the side when the regular captain was unavailable due to injury or illness (or other reasons, as in 2018). In the earlier years some teams such as South Africa were not quite settled and had to frequently make changes. And West Indies in the early years had an informal rule that the captain for a particular Test had to be from the country where it was being played.

Some won, some lost and others drew.

Those who won:

Only win

Prominent stand-in captains include Bill Brown, Neil Harvey and Ravi Shastri. Shastri was fortunate to have Hirwani making his debut. CA Smith played his only Test and went on to make a career in Hollywood.

Mortaza was particularly lucky as he was injured for most of the match while Shakib deputised for him in Bangladesh’s second Test win and the first away from home. That was against what can best be called a West Indies C team, as those from the A and B Test teams boycotted the series.

Those who lost:

Only loss

DB Carr is remembered by Indian cricket historians as that loss in 1952 corresponded to India’s first victory. He was a stand-in for ND Howard.

Prominent stand-in captains include Pankaj Roy and Chandu Borde (whose teams were “whitewashed”), John Edrich, Gordon Greenidge, Dwayne Bravo, Mohammad Hafeez and Shane Watson.

And Shahid Afridi impulsively decided to stop playing Tests after this loss. That was one of the few neutral Tests at Lord’s. He was replaced by Salman Butt, and we know how that turned out.

N Betancourt captained because of the prevalent West Indies practice of having the captain from the territory where the Test was being played.

Those who drew:

Only Draw

Prominent stand-ins include George Headley, Ray Lindwall, Tom Graveney, Deryck Murray and Gary Kirsten.

Headley should have captained the West Indies earlier but for the long-established principle that only those of European ancestry could captain the side.

Hemu Adhikari was thought to have done a good job as his team had lost the last three Tests by heavy margins. He was India’s 4th captain in the final match of a 5-Test series.

Also note the five who captained in their only Tests: CA Smith (Eng), AR Richards (SA), JH Anderson (SA), N Betancourt (WI), HM Taberer (SA).