A side is only as good as its leader. Now we have heard comments like “my grandmother could have led the Australian sides in the 1990s to victory”, but they belittle the role of a captain in sport. The captain’s role in any international team is absolutely critical. The captain has to bring the best out of his players. His job is not to teach them how to play but to encourage them to give their best. It may or may not result in a match-winning performance on a certain day but pays off in the long run.Mike Brearley, in his Art of Captaincy, has done a wonderful job in highlighting the role of a captain. When a side is habitually winning, as was common for the West Indies under Clive Lloyd and Australia under Steve Waugh, it is easy to miss the importance of leadership. One has to only look back at West Indies cricket before Lloyd took over to see his contribution. He was able to get the players to rise above their inter-island (inter-country) rivalries and perform under the West Indies flag to become possibly cricket’s greatest team ever. Waugh raised the level of Australia a notch when he took over captaincy.Who would have imagined India winning the World Cup in 1983, or Sri Lanka in 1996? But leaders like Kapil Dev and Arjuna Ranatunga were able to rally their forces admirably, winning the small battles as well as the final frontier by beating seemingly invincible teams. In all World Cups, it’s not about winning the first few games but peaking at the right time. Sides such as South Africa have peaked early and then gone on to lose crucial semi-finals. The World Cup is a marathon, not a sprint. The side that plays best when it reaches the quarter-finals with its players peaking at the right time will be the one that comes out on top.advertisementEach successful captain brings something special to the table, something he shares only with his team members. Different captains have different styles. When I became England’s captain, they had hit rock bottom and needed a firm leader to give them a push up. By the end of my reign, they needed a captain such as Michael Vaughan to help them to go out and express themselves in a carefree manner as they did in the 2005 Ashes series. For this World Cup, all captains will be working out their plans. A captain’s success also depends on his equation with the coach. India and England owe a lot of their recent successes to their respective captain-coach combines. The coach is an integral part of a captain’s success.(Top left) Kumar Sangakkara, M S Dhoni, Andrew Strauss and Ricky PontingA lot will rest on the shoulders of the men I consider as the top four captains of this World Cup. M.S. Dhoni has led India admirably over the past few years. He is calm and unflappable under pressure and seems to be enjoying captaincy. The Indians will be under a lot of pressure at home, and Dhoni will have to alleviate the pressure from his boys. That will hold the key to India’s success in the World Cup. His very successful partnership with coach Gary Kirsten will be put to its toughtest test yet.Kumar Sangakkara is captain of a young and strong Sri Lankan side, which is ranked third on the icc’s odi charts. Like Dhoni, he is also going to feel the “home” pressure, but the Lankans have a solid record at home.Ricky Ponting and Australia can never be counted out. The Aussies are no longer a “great” side, but they are still the world’s top-ranked odi team. Ponting has the capability to inspire his boys and lead a final onslaught but it’s not going to be as easy as it was in the previous three World Cups.Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower have worked brilliantly as a team and inspired England to become the No. 3 Test team. Despite their recent loss to Australia in the odi series, after retaining the Ashes convincingly, England will be a dangerous side. They can beat anyone on their day and Strauss has his team’s backing to the hilt.The dark horse of the tournament is definitely Pakistan. They may be down in the rankings but can never be underestimated. They have been through much turmoil and scandal. Shahid Afridi and his boys will be itching to set things right.The writer is a former captain of the England cricket teamadvertisement
zoom Vitol Netherlands has acquired 19.62% of the total voting capital of Latvian Shipping Company (LSC), LSC said citing a notification from energy and commodities company Vitol.This is equivalent to a total of 39,249,118 shares in the tanker shipping company.The sum Vitol paid for the shares was not disclosed.Since 2002, the largest shareholder of LSC has been Vitol’s subsidiary JSC Ventspils Nafta, owning 49.94% of the share capital.Given that Vitol’s existing shares in LSC amount to 99,880,361, the group’s total shareholding is now equivalent to 69.56% of the voting capital of LSC, the shipping company said in a statement.Currently, LSC’s fleet is comprised of sixteen Handy and MR ships with carrying capacities from 37,211 to 52,684 tons.