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Art of captaincy not lost on inspirational skipper

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Captaincy is one of the great arts of cricket – but it is under threat.

Top skippers of the past seemed to have the ability to make matches be played on their terms.

If events were drifting, the likes of Mike Brearley, Ray Illingworth, Brian Close and Shane Warne appeared to relish trying the unorthodox, often with startlingly effective results.

Sadly, that rarely seems to happen at Test match and county level nowadays – and it is easy to see why.

The emergence of the role of director of cricket has undermined the authority of captains.

If results are going badly, the captain can stay in a side as a player. But the director of cricket is usually first in line to be sacked, so it is hardly surprising if he wants a major say in tactics.

How many times do you hear current players say: "We've got to execute our plans?"

Fair enough, you have to have a good idea of what you are aiming to do before you go on to the field. But the leading captains used to conjure something up when things did not go according to plan.

Fortunately, in club cricket, the captain is still in charge.

In Leicestershire's Everards League, the dominant figure is Loughborough Town skipper Dips Patel.

The 2012 season marked his 11th year at the helm of the Park Road club and the seventh time he has led them to the title.

The 36-year-old has also skippered them to three County Cup triumphs and four League Cup/Challenge Cup successes.

This year's league title was one of the more remarkable and it makes Patel a worthy candidate for the Leicester Mercury Sportsman of the Year award.

Man for man, you could make a reasonable case that Loughborough were not the strongest side, particularly in bowling.

But, as usual, Patel made his side fight for every point and the success must have been all the sweeter because of key roles taken by young players.

On the field, Patel is somewhat reminiscent of former West Indies skipper Clive Lloyd.

He has something of Lloyd's lope around the outfield and, like Lloyd, his giant strides eat up the ground when he is running between the wickets.

Loughborough chairman Barrie Wakeling said: "The lads just want to turn up and play for Dips. I think, if he went somewhere, the lads would go to play for him.

"He's a very good leader and an excellent coach. He's brilliant with the juniors.

"He's so influential. I love watching him as a captain. In the field, he's on to the team all the time."

Art of captaincy  not lost on inspirational skipper


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