• England have had 81 Test cricket captains

  • Ben Stokes is the current England Test captain and he is quickly becoming one of the most successful

  • Alastair Cook captained England in the most Test matches

Where captaincy is more about the honour than the job role in rugby and football, being named captain in cricket is a much greater responsibility.

The skipper is not only an on-field leader, they are a tactician tasked with making decisions on reviews, bowling changes, field settings and declarations.

England Cricket Captains:

The quality of a captain is a factor to evaluate when it comes to cricket betting. They are able to instil a team-wide identity while pulling the strings in the field.

Of course, the quality of the players still matters if you’re deciding on cricket betting tips, but there’s a reason the most successful England captains are so fondly remembered.

Past England Cricket Captains:

James Lillywhite was the first England Test captain. Lillywhite led England in two Tests against Australia in the 1870s, and a string of others tried their hand at captaincy over the following years.

The first widely recognised name to skipper England was W G Grace, who captained 13 Tests with eight victories at the end of the 19th century.

Andrew Stoddart, Archie MacLaren, Johnny Douglas and C B Fry were among numerous England captains in the early years of the 20th century.

Douglas Jardine, infamous for the Bodyline series, captained England for 15 Tests, winning nine of them. Jardine is one of the most famous names in the history of English cricket, and a pivotal figure in the Ashes rivalry.

A few years after Jardine, one of the greatest England cricketers took the captaincy. Wally Hammond’s success as a run scorer didn’t translate to leadership, unfortunately.

Norman Yardley and Freddie Brown had substantial stints as skipper after Hammond. The next iconic figure to lead the nation, though, was Len Hutton in the 1950s.

Soon after Hutton, Peter May took over. May led England to 20 Test wins during his stint, a record which made him England’s most successful captain until the 21st century.

Colin Cowdrey and Ted Dexter held the responsibility for much of the 1960s. Test wins were rare, however, and England struggled to regularly win matches under the leadership of Ray Illingworth, Mike Denness, and Tony Greig.


It all changed when Mike Brearley was in charge. Brearley was a masterful motivator, leading England to Ashes triumphs and getting the best out of their stars.

Ian Botham had an ill-fated spell, and Bob Willis tried to mix the challenges of fast bowling and captaincy.

David Gower, Mike Gatting and Graham Gooch all endured substantial stints, but England were not a force, and the pressure of captaincy was not rewarded with victories.

Alec Stewart, Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain guided England through the challenging 1990s and early noughties. Hussain set the bedrock for the glory Michael Vaughan enjoyed in the first part of the 21st century.

Controversy and headlines aplenty, Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff found captaincy wasn’t for them. Andrew Strauss had a long and brilliant tenure as England skipper before handing over to his opening batting partner, Alastair Cook.

Cook was succeeded by Joe Root, who endured a challenging time as captain with priorities placed elsewhere.

Root set the record for Tests as England captain, but faced widespread criticism throughout his tenure. In early 2022, he stepped down, and was replaced by his close friend, Ben Stokes.

Appointed as part of an overhaul of the Test setup with Brendon McCullum becoming coach, Stokes oversaw an immediate change in England’s attitude to the five-day game.

Rolling off wins at home before a spectacular series victory in Pakistan, the Bazball revolution reengaged fans with Test cricket, leading to an enthralling 2023 Ashes.

Most Successful England Cricket Captains:

England’s most successful Test captains by wins all played in the 21st century. This is mainly down to the increased number of matches per year.

Joe Root leads the way with 27 wins, just ahead of fellow Yorkshireman Michael Vaughan.

Root, though, needed 13 more Tests for that additional victory, and lost 26 of his 64 matches in charge compared with 11 of 51 for Vaughan. Where Vaughan led the majestic 2005 Ashes win, his team fell apart soon after.

It is Andrew Strauss, with 24 wins in 50 Tests, who will generally be regarded as England’s most successful captain of the 21st century. They won in Australia, they conquered all before them, on their way to the number one spot in the world rankings.

Mike Brearley and Peter May registered the most wins in the 20th century. Brearley is perhaps remembered as England’s best pure captain, a man who could get the best out of Ian Botham and take on the Australians.

It would be unfair to miss Douglas Jardine off this section, too. Jardine’s Bodyline might not have been popular, but it helped England register a 4-1 win down under, a feat not many captains can rival.

Of course, Ben Stokes is already one of England’s most impactful captains. He’s won 13 of his first 19 Tests, matching Mike Atherton’s win total in 35 fewer matches.

Current England Cricket Captains:

Ben Stokes is the current England Test captain, having replaced Joe Root before the 2022 summer.

The duties of England captaincy have been split for almost a decade. Jos Buttler succeeded Eoin Morgan as England’s white-ball skipper in 2022 – during his first year in charge, Buttler led England to T20 World Cup glory in Australia.

While Buttler had big shoes to fill in the all-conquering white-ball setup, Stokes was tasked with reinvigorating an England Test team which had struggled for several years. 

The impact of Stokes as captain was immediate, with the Bazball approach paying dividends at home and abroad. 

England One Day Cricket Captains:

There have been 35 different England One-Day International captains. 10 different men have led the England T20 side, with two players (James Tredwell, Alastair Cook) skippering the T20 side for one match apiece.

Morgan is by far the most successful in both formats. His 76 wins in 126 ODIs is far clear of everyone else – no other England ODI captain has won more than 36 matches. He won 42 of his 72 matches as T20 skipper, with Paul Collingwood ranking a distant second on 17 wins.

Collingwood did, however, guide England to their maiden T20 World Cup win, a feat which was repeated by Buttler in 2022.

*Credit for the main photo belongs to Tom Hevezi / AP Photo*



Sam is a sports tipster, specialising in the Premier League and Champions League.

He covers most sports, including cricket and Formula One. Sam particularly enjoys those on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean – notably MLB and NBA.

Watching, writing and talking about sports betting takes up most of his time, whether that is for a day out at T20 Finals Day or a long night of basketball.

Having been writing for several years, Sam has been working with 888Sport since 2016, contributing multiple articles per week to the blog.