Usually some boy stands out pre-eminently as the right one to be captain, and nothing is more essential to the success of a school eleven than that the right captain should be chosen. This applies almost equally to all elevens, but especially to school elevens. You can tell from the way a side plays, particularly by the way it fields, exactly what manner of man the captain is; and if you know the captain, you can generally tell what kind of team he will produce by the end of a season. The captain is the keynote of the side, the source from which it takes its colour. It is practically impossible for a side to rise superior to its captain. He makes or mars everything. He can nullify the strength of a good eleven, or he can make a weak one stronger than it really is. At the same time, there is an enormous difference between captaining a good side and captaining a bad one. With two or three fine bowlers, backed by good fielding, a captain has in ordinary circumstances merely to set things in motion and wait results. Not that this succeeds so well as proper captaincy, but it does fairly well. With a weak side the case is different. Such a side has to live by its wits, which means the captain's. Incessant forethought and management are necessary to make both ends meet: every shift and device must be used, and any good that is available turned to the very best account. In cricket, as in other phases of life, the true tests of merit are difficulties and adversity. It is in his leadership of a weak side or of a side whose fortunes are down for the time being that a captain's worth is proved. A captain who by pure good management succeeds in struggling through a season with fair results must find a melancholy pleasure in watching the efforts of strong elevens neutralised by the incompetency of their leaders.
The duties of a captain vary somewhat according to the kind of match in which his side is engaged, and to the kind of club which has elected him. To begin with, first-class cricket, including representative M.C.C., county, and university matches, is quite different from any other—partly because the results are universally regarded as more important, partly because certain obligations towards the spectators have to be taken into consideration. The last point applies equally to any match which people pay to come to see. Again, school cricket is quite different from ordinary club cricket, and both of them from country-house cricket.
With regard to gate-money matches. The captains of the two sides engaged are during the match responsible for everything in connection with it. They are under an obligation to the