Bishal Mandal ∙ May 17 2023, 1:15 PM

       From AB de Villiers to Faf Du Plessis: Here's Top 5 South African Captains of All Time

image-lhrpv93uAB de Villiers (Twitter)

Cricket holds a prominent position in South Africa, boasting a vibrant history and an enthusiastic fan base. The national team, known as the Proteas, is renowned as one of the strongest squads in international cricket. Their inaugural appearance in the ICC World Cup took place on 26 February 1992, marking the beginning of their illustrious journey. Since then, the Proteas have achieved remarkable success, including winning the ICC Champions Trophy in 1998 and making it to the semi-finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup on four occasions.

Notwithstanding their achievements on the field, South African cricket has faced numerous challenges over the years. These challenges have included grappling with issues of racial inequality and implementing a controversial quota system.

As we delve into the extraordinary voyage of South African cricket, let's take a closer look at the top five captains who led their teams to victory on numerous occasions.

Top 5 South African Captains of All Time

 1. Hansie Cronje

image-lhrpedfhHansie Cronje (Twitter)

Hansie Cronje stands out as one of the most accomplished and impactful cricketers in the history of South African cricket. He possessed remarkable skills as an all-rounder, showcasing exceptional batting and bowling abilities that played a vital role in the team's triumphs on numerous occasions. As a captain, he was known for his tactical acumen, shrewd decision-making, and ability to inspire his team to perform at their best. 

Cronje's leadership helped South Africa become a dominant force in world cricket in the 1990s, and his contributions to the team's success will never be forgotten. Regrettably, Hansie Cronje's remarkable legacy was marred by his participation in a match-fixing scandal in 2000, causing profound shock and tarnishing his previously sterling reputation within the cricketing community. 

Nevertheless, it is important to acknowledge that his contributions to South African cricket are still highly regarded, and his accomplishments as a player and captain continue to be celebrated by fans worldwide.

Under his leadership, South Africa won 27 Test matches out of the 53 they played, with 11 losses and 15 draws. The team also won 99 out of the 138 One Day International matches they played, with one tie and three no-results.

2. Graeme Smith

image-lhrpgeyk Graeme Smith (Twitter)

Graeme Smith is undoubtedly one of the greatest cricketers and captains that South Africa has ever produced. He had a remarkable career as a left-handed opening batsman, scoring over 17,000 runs across all game formats, including 37 centuries. As a captain, he was known for his exceptional leadership skills, determination, and ability to inspire his team to perform at their best.

Smith took over the captaincy of the South African team at a time when they were struggling, and he played a crucial role in turning their fortunes around. Under his leadership, South Africa became one of the most dominant teams in world cricket, winning several important series and tournaments. Smith's contributions to South African cricket are immense, and he is widely regarded as one of the greatest captains in the sport's history.

He led South Africa in 284 matches, out of which 163 were in winning cause and losing 88 games.

3. Shaun Pollock

image-lhrphmi5Shaun Pollock (Twitter)

Shaun Pollock was another exceptional all-rounder and captain for the South African cricket team. He was a right-arm fast-medium bowler and a hard-hitting lower-order batsman who played a crucial role in many of South Africa's victories. 

Pollock took over the captaincy of the team in difficult circumstances, following the match-fixing scandal that rocked South African cricket in the early 2000s.However, he proved to be an outstanding leader, guiding the team to several important victories and series wins. 

Under his captaincy, South Africa won a record 12 consecutive One-Day International matches and eight Test series victories. Pollock himself was a key contributor to numerous victories. His ability to lead by example on the field and pushing his teammates to perform at their best made him a highly respected and admired captain. 

His contributions to South African cricket have been immense, and he will always be remembered as one of the country's greatest players and leaders. He led South Africa to 118 matches out of which 73 matches was won and a loss of 41 matches.

4.  AB De Villiers

image-lhrplk0oAB De Villiers (Twitter)

AB De Villiers aka Mr. 360 degree player is the next captain who makes it to the list of top 5 South African captain's of all time. The right-handed wicketkeeper-batsman known for his aggressive and innovative approach towards batting has had a remarkable career.

He has scored over 20,000 runs across all formats of the game, including 47 centuries. As a captain, he brought a fresh and dynamic approach to the team, and his leadership helped South Africa win several important series and tournaments. He has led 103 matches, winning 59, losing 39, and tying one, with four games with no result.

De Villiers' ability to inspire his team to perform at their best and his tactical acumen on the field make him a remarkable player of cricket. He was also a talented wicketkeeper who made some crucial contributions behind the stumps. Despite his retirement from international cricket in 2018, de Villiers remains one of the most popular and respected cricketers in South African cricket history.

5.  Faf Du Plessis

image-lhrpnoq7Faf du Plessis (Twitter)

Lastly, Faf du Plessis is one of South Africa's most talented cricketers and a successful captain. He is an unorthodox right-handed middle-order batsman who has the ability to play a range of strokes and score runs quickly. 

He made his ODI debut for South Africa in 2011 and quickly established himself as a key member of the team. Over 11,000 International runs and 23 centuries across all formats made him key player. He took over the captaincy of the ODI side in 2013 and led the team with distinction.

Under his leadership, South Africa won 28 out of 39 ODIs, with a win percentage of over 70%. Du Plessis is known for his calm and composed approach on the field, and his ability to lead from the front. He played a key role in several important victories for South Africa, including a series win against Australia in 2016.