Captaining an eleven is nothing more nor less than leading men in a particular sphere—the cricket-field. And to be a good captain, a man must first of all have the natural gift for leadership—which is probably an inborn quality synonymous with force of character—and then be able to apply this gift to the requirements of cricket. It has often been remarked that the ideal captain has yet to appear. No wonder; for something more than human is needed to discharge all the duties of the post. They are many-sided and complex—social, moral, intellectual, and practical. No one can fulfil them adequately without being a good man and a good cricketer—a good cricketer not so much in the sense of being able to do great feats with bat and ball, as in that of having a thorough knowledge of the game and a proper feeling towards it. A captain, too, should be a judge of nature as well as of cricket, for he has to deal with men as well as with the game. He must have a discriminating eye for physique and temperament as well as for weather and wickets. Tact, resource, readiness, decision, an even temper, enthusiasm, and the power of inspiring it in others—all are necessary. And a captain must have that confidence in himself which, founded on fact, compels the confidence of those under his command. Above all, he must lead and not be led; otherwise he is no captain at all, but a figurehead.
That the post is no sinecure may readily be understood. It involves much responsibility and many cares and annoyances. When things go well people take it as a matter of course; when they go badly the captain is the butt of all criticism: one hears it said so often during a cricket season that this or that match was lost by bad captaincy, but very seldom that a match was won