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Youngest Test Captains in History

Jishnu Brahmaputra
February 18, 2022, 12:15
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Youngest Test Captains in History

Traditionally, the captain of a sports team is an experienced, older player who has proved themselves and slowly grown into the role under the tutelage of someone with even more matches under their belt. There’s a lot to learn about captaincy, and most of it is honed on the field through lessons both harsh and pleasant.

In some rare cases, however, the reins of a team have been handed to someone based purely on their skill, potential, and apparent understanding of the game. Such decisions by the managerial staff often lead to controversy, with the player in question coming under scrutiny for even the smallest choices they make. Such a situation is no cakewalk, and thus such instances have an entire set of records of their own. Here are the top 10 youngest captains in the history of Test cricket.

Player Age Team Opposition Ground Match Date Scorecard
Rashid Khan 20y 350d Afghanistan v Bangladesh Chattogram 5 Sep 2019 Test # 2361
T Taibu 20y 358d Zimbabwe v Sri Lanka Harare 6 May 2004 Test # 1698
Nawab of Pataudi 21y 77d India v West Indies Bridgetown 23 Mar 1962 Test # 527
Waqar Younis 22y 15d Pakistan v Zimbabwe Karachi 1 Dec 1993 Test # 1237
GC Smith 22y 82d South Africa v Bangladesh Chattogram 24 Apr 2003 Test # 1640
Shakib Al Hasan 22y 115d Bangladesh v West Indies St George’s 17 Jul 2009 Test # 1926
ID Craig 22y 194d Australia v South Africa Johannesburg 23 Dec 1957 Test # 444
Javed Miandad 22y 260d Pakistan v Australia Karachi 27 Feb 1980 Test # 876
M Bisset 22y 306d South Africa v England Johannesburg 14 Feb 1899 Test # 58
Mohammad Ashraful 22y 353d Bangladesh v Sri Lanka Colombo (SSC) 25 Jun 2007 Test # 1837

1. Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)

The Afghan spin sensation is easily the most popular player in his country’s short history with the sport. A household name around the cricketing world, Rashid Khan is well on his way to become one of the highest wicket-takers in cricket history, and his record in the T20 format seems like it will be standing for a while. On September 5 2019, in a match against Bangladesh in Chattogram, Rashid was given the responsibility of his national team at the age of 20 years and 350 days, which made him the youngest national captain of all time. Against the odds, Afghanistan managed to win the match. There is, however, some widespread doubt about his real age, but for now this record stands as it does.

2. Tatenda Taibu (Zimbabwe)

After their entire cricket board went through an upheaval in 2003 and 2004, Zimbabwe were left with a wing and a prayer. Following the exit of several experienced, highly skilled, and high-profile players, they had to change things around to make the team work. Originally second-seed to the great Andy Flower, young wicket-keeper Tatenda Taibu was given leadership of Zimbabwe at just 20 years and 358 days of age on May 6, 2004 in a match against Sri Lanka in Harare. The Chevrons went on to lose the match by a massive margin.

3. Nawab Mansur Ali Khan of Pataudi (India)

Although his lineage may have played a part in it, Mansur Ali Khan, the Nawab of Pataudi, was made captain of the Indian team when he was only 21 years and 77 days old. This wasn’t India as we know it, though, but one that was barely learning the ropes of cricket as one of the lowest rated teams in the world. India were playing against the West Indies at Bridgetown on March 23, 1962. To be fair to Mansur Ali Khan, he was a decent batter for his age, but he couldn’t prevent an innings defeat for his team.

4. Waqar Younis (Pakistan)

A member of the deadly swing duo that spearheaded the famed Pakistani fast bowling attack of the 90s, Waqar Younis was able to do things with the ball that most players can but dream of. However, he was made captain quite suddenly in what was expected to be an easy match against Zimbabwe in Karachi on December 1, 1992. Waqar not only captained the side to victory at the age of 22 years and 15 days, but even took home the Man of the Match award with 13 wickets to his name.

5. Graeme Smith (South Africa)

Unlike most of the others on this list, Graeme Smith went on to captain his team for a really long time following his debut match, becoming not just the longest-serving South African Test captain, but also the most successful Test captain in the history of the game. Smith’s captaincy debut came by way of a match against Bangladesh in Chattogram on April 24, 2003, which South Africa went on to win comfortably. He was just 22 years and 82 days old.

6. Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh)

One of the greatest all-rounders of all time in any format, Shakib Al Hasan would perhaps have been even more successful than he is had he belonged to some other country, but he is absolutely adored in his home country. The talented Shakib first led Bangladesh at the young age of 22 years and 115 days, and his amazing all-round performance helped Bangladesh to clinch one of their first Test wins. The date of the start of the match was 17 July, 2009, and it was held at St George’s.

7. Ian Craig (Australia)

For our 7th entry on this list, we roll back the years all the way to 1957. It was a match against South Africa, and Australia inexplicably handed leadership to a young player with barely a few matches of experience and no real statistical superiority. Ian Craig led the Baggy Greens on the way to a draw at the age of 22 years and 194 days, with the match taking place on 23 December 1957 in Johannesburg. After that series ended two months later, he never played for Australia again.

8. Javed Miandad (Pakistan)

On the absolute polar opposite side, Javed Miandad played for Pakistan for 16 years following his captaincy debut. He was a temperamental man with plenty to say on the field, but he was also an undeniably good cricketer. Miandad was just 22 years and 260 days upon being made captain, and Pakistan enjoyed a comprehensive victory over Australia under him in the match that began on February 27 1980 in Karachi.

9. Murray Bisset (South Africa)

The only entry on this list from the 19th century comes in the form of Murray Bisset, who held his record until it was broken by the aforementioned Ian Craig. The match in question took place on February 14, 1899, with Bisset being 22 years and 306 days old. South Africa went on to lose the match after a disastrous fourth innings.

10. Mohammad Ashraful (Bangladesh)

A player who could have been great but threw away his career through unscrupulous practices, Mohammad Ashraful was once the darling of Bangladesh. An exceptional batter, he was given the captaincy against Sri Lanka in Colombo on June 25, 2007 when he was just 22 years and 353 days old. Bangladesh went on to lose the match horribly.

 

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