There are as many as 49 Test players (starting with HH Massie in 1885 and ending with TD Paine in 2018) who captained their sides in exactly one Test. Of these, 5 were playing their only Test, the best-known being the future Hollywood resident CA Smith. Let us have a closer look at how they did.
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.
11 of these captains won the only Test they captained in:
A short list, with some well-known players such as Brown, Harvey, Shastri and Rahane. 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. Of these, only Rahane might captain his team again. But that would only be if the incumbent is unavailable for some reason.
22 lost the only Test they captained in:
A number of well-known players are here who had long careers but were not considered as regular captains for various reasons. DB Carr did play in only 2 Tests but this one Test was India’s first-ever victory. Afridi the unpredictable captained his only Test at Lord’s.
Everyone here from Hafeez downwards might captain their teams again (except Watson who as retired from international cricket).
And 16 drew the only Test they captained in:
A sprinkling of well-known players here. Headley should have captained the West Indies earlier but for the long-established principle that only white men could captain the side. Adhikari’s draw made him a hero at that time as India had just lost 3 Tests in a row, all by heavy margins.
As the last such event was in 2001, there is no current player who might captain his side again.