Captains in any sport have the added pressure of leadership. They are accountable for the team’s performance. They are celebrated in victories but have to cope with heavy criticism when the team faces a defeat. Therefore, there have been many players who have not been able to withstand the intense scrutiny and pressure of captaincy.
Recently, in international cricket, South African cricket player De Kock handed over the Test captaincy to Dean Elgar after a string of low scores and having not scored a century in around two years. On their first tour after the change of captaincy, to West Indies, De Kock notched a scintillating hundred in the first test and a fine 96 in the second. His game, post-giving up the captaincy, has been fluent and carefree. Thus, it is evident that the role of a captain is not as easy as it seems.
With the job already so difficult, it would be unthinkable of the selectors and management to hand over the baton to a youngster, much less a debutant. It has to be a freaky incident or an outstanding leader for a young player to get the captaincy. Kapil Dev and Graeme Smith are examples of when captaincy duties were given at an extremely tender age. We take a step ahead and look at players who became captains on debut.
1.Lee Kenneth Germon
He formerly captained the Kiwis and made his first-class debut at the age of 19. Germon was regarded as one of the most successful captains in the domestic circuit as under his leadership Canterbury won the Shell Cup 50-overs in 1991-92, 1992-93, 1993-94, 1995-96, and 1996-97. His credentials in domestic cricket solidified his opportunity to captain the New Zealand side. Lee debuted as an international player in 1995 against India and was the captain in his very first match. Though the wicketkeeper-batsman could represent his country in only 12 Test matches and 37 ODIs, his contribution in building New Zealand cricket to what it is today is unquestionable.
2.David Laud Houghton
The former Zimbabwe skipper David Laud Houghton has a very unusual distinction. Not only did he captain the side on his international debut in 1992, but also scored a classy ton in the match. The match was against India. Throughout his brief career, David never had a duck and holds the record for the most number of runs without getting out on zero. In his International career of 15 years, the wicketkeeper-batsman featured in 22 Tests and 63 ODIs for Zimbabwe scoring 1,464 and 1,530 runs respectively.
On the bank of his brilliant captaincy records for Tasmania in domestic cricket, the selectors reposed confidence in him to lead the side. Bailey played his first T20 International for Australia as a captain on February 1, 2012, and led the hosts to victory against India. He is also the only captain to have a 100% success record while leading his side in an ICC World Cup tournament. In the opening game of the 2015 edition against England, Bailey was made the captain and the team won as he made a contribution of 55 runs with the bat. However, the 37-year-old was then dropped from the playing XI and that was the only World Cup game he has ever featured in.
England’s captain Ray Illingworth was on a sabbatical and Tony was given a chance to lead from the front on a five-month tour in 1972/73 to India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Lewis guided his team to a victory in his debut match by playing a brilliant knock of 70*. He directed England to victory against India in one fixture, losing twice and drawing five times. Lewis had also smashed his maiden Test hundred (125) in a Test in Kanpur on that tour. Later he was named as the vice-captain of the England side as Illingworth resumed his leadership duties.
The Cheshire-born had made his debut for Lancashire in domestic cricket in 1946 and had put up a fine show. In 1951, Howard was offered a chance to lead the National team on India and Pakistan tours. However, the right-handed batsman could only play against India that too for only four Test matches in the five-match Test series as he fell sick. As the cricketer couldn’t make an impact on the England tour of India, he was sacked from the team and didn’t get any further chance to represent England.