Captains, at recreational level, tend to assume their mantle via one of three avenues:
- They are the best organiser in the team
- Nobody else wants to do the job
- They are deemed a ‘natural born leader,’ i.e. they are the best organiser in the team and possess at least a modicum of charisma and character.
In essence, captaincy is a dual-edged sword. On the surface, the position holds great kudos, particularly for those not familiar with the team in question. Leading, or taking charge, obviously enjoys great benefits, particularly for those who like to be in control. At the highest level, captain of one’s country obviously is an esteemed position of great privilege and honour. There is where the comparisons end though for captain of the national team and captain of a recreational team are two different breeds of animal. For instance, the England captain’s role will entail a host of extra duties that are alien to the recreational equivalent: television and media interviews, sponsorship commitments, mulling over his / her own form and dealing with the mandarins at the England and Wales Cricket Board. Conversely, the England captain will not have to worry about carrying the team’s kit bag, collecting match subs and making sure the scorebook has been completed and the bowling figures are coherent.
Once on the playing field itself, the England captain’s responsibilities differ vastly from his brethren skippering the local, recreational team. If the opening bowler has a stinker of a first spell, the England captain does not have to worry about replacing him or her with the first change and sending his premier practitioner to the outfield for a ‘rest.’ He / she also do not have to worry about rebuking the fielder at point for day-dreaming and conceding an unnecessary boundary. Indulge in such tactics in the recreational form of the game and the consequences may well be the loss of personnel. Balancing the pursuit of victory and the mood of the team can prove a capricious business. If the national team’s number five batsman decides that he / she does not want to play anymore post a falling out with the skipper, then his / her place will readily be filled with a willing replacement. Fielding eleven players is regularly a luxury for recreational cricket captains. If the recreational team’s opening bowler decides he / she is not interested in playing anymore post being denied a third and fourth over, there will be much scrabbling around to locate a replacement, often without success.
As Crow Green skipper Rob Isaacs once opined: “I bet Joe Root doesn’t have to worry about whether his bowling attack is gonna be decimated by a tantrum or two! Captaincy for our sort of team is all about balancing everyone’s personalities. Let’s face it, people are giving up time and money to play, so it’s a properly delicate balance.
“Playing the game is the best part of captaincy. All the other stuff really is a labour of love!”