The leadership group on the cricket field is often regarded as where the buck stops when it comes to crunch time. Who can forget MS Dhoni’s field placements in the inaugural 2007 T20 final which led to the wicket off the Misbah scoop? Or for the flip side, when Morgan introduced Stokes into the attack only to be clobbered by Carlos Braithwaite in the final overs of the 2016 edition of the T20 WC.
However, there have been few instances of this onerous responsibility being taken from players because of instances of their behavior off the field instead of on it or any decisions taken by them in such a scenario.
The role of a leader in the face of adversity requires them to deal with it effectively and sometimes when push comes to shove, the Cricket boards around the world have often dropped the ax on various Captains for off-the-field antics for team morale.
1. Hansie Cronje
Hansie Cronje assumed the captaincy of the Proteas in 1994 and led them to a nearly unbeatable run which included a famous test win at Melbourne against Australia as well, a test he only captained because of an injury that the then captain, Kepler Wessels had sustained. He was quite a successful captain as well earning 27 Test victories and even in limited-overs managing to beat the then top 8 test playing nations in some series or another.
However, come 7th April 2000, Cronje was initially alleged of having conducted match-fixing, charges he initially denied but eventually admitted partially to, including involvement of some Indian syndicate members. There were even allegations of multiple South African team members being involved with match-fixing as well.
Cronje was subsequently dropped from the team and further banned from all forms of cricket by the ICC after having been found guilty of the match-fixing allegations on the 11th of October 2000. He also subsequently tried to make a comeback and intended to break the ban 11 months after its announcement but to no avail. He tragically passed away in a plane accident in 2002.
2. Mohammed Azharuddin
There have been a few stylish and wristy batters to come out of Hyderabad. And while VVS Laxman features high on that list, not far behind is perhaps the batsman with the most flair and pizzaz that India produced in the 90s. Few can forget the unfolded collar arriving at the crease resting assured that the top of the order was here for runs.
Mohammad Azharuddin, not only one of India’s finest batsmen but also perhaps the sharpest eye in the slips that India had produced so far was perhaps one of the calmest and yet most aggressive captains that the game has known.
Azharuddin led India to a whopping 14 victories out of 47 Tests at a time of serial underperformance for the Indian team set a record for most wins achieved as a captain. However, unfortunately, Azharuddin found himself caught up in a series of match-fixing controversies.
He too was drawn into the same controversy as Hansie Cronje and despite fighting prolonged cases in the Andhra Pradesh High Court where he was cleared of charges for lack of evidence. The ICC and BCCI imposed ban was enough for the Captain to lose both his place in the team and naturally his leadership role over the team.
3. Steve Smith
The 2018 Australian tour of South Africa will forever be remembered perhaps for all the wrong reasons. The first and the second tests of the 4 match series were fiery affairs seeing the Protean pace battery comprising new pacer Kagiso Rabada spitting fire down the bouncy South African tracks. These two tests, however, saw the teams split the honors equally amongst each other with the series standing poised at 1-1. In the 3rd Test, in a bizzare cricketing act, the young Australian batter Cameron Bancroft was observed using sandpaper to alter the physical structure of the ball to induce more movement for his team’s bowlers.
In a subsequent news press conference, Steve Smith took responsibility for these actions stating these were the intentions and requirements as stated by the “leadership group” for which he took full and complete responsibility. While he was fined 100% of his match fee for the math in question and subsequently handed a 1-year ban by Cricket Australia, ‘Smudge’ is now on his way back to glory and has regained his place in the Australian batting line-up and is fast making a claim to greatness in his No. 3 slot.
4. Shakib Al Hasan
One of the stalwarts of the game, and one of the most highly regarded Bangladeshi cricketers currently a part of their lineup, Shakib Al Hasan was a big part of the cricket set-up of the country for a very long time. He was however briefly also Captain of the Bangladeshi team until 2018 when it was reported that he had not made the ICC aware of multiple approaches made by match-fixing syndicates towards him.
He was, however, given a 2-year ban and made available to the Bangladeshi selectors from October 2020, however, the team selectors then chose to go a different direction with the Captaincy and chose Mushfiqur Rahim to lead the set-up instead. However, the captaincy of the Bangladeshi team has also shifted since but the time under Shakib is fondly remembered as being a great setup leading into two of the biggest ICC tournament draws including the 2015 and 2019 50 over World Cups.
5. Tim Paine
The most recent prey of his past coming back up to haunt him, Tim Paine, the captain who emerged to lead Australia out of the tumultuous period leading from the 2018 sandpaper-gate debacle, had recently some old chats with women emerge that have led to Cricket Australia making the decision to drop him from Captaincy for various unscrupulous remarks made by him in conversation with a younger female. These arise from a scandal when Tim Paine was playing for the Tasmanian set-up and while investigated and acquitted by Cricket Australia at the time, a recent leak to the media regarding these reports, they were still considered actionable by Cricket Australia to drop the Tim Paine from captaincy as they have subsequently.
Tim Paine has cited these reasons to also take an indefinite break from international cricket and has called his name off from selection to all formats.