There is perhaps no sport in which the designated captains play as influential a role as they do in cricket. The rhythms of the game, especially when played out over five days, and the unique built-in pauses at the end of every over, allow for much greater on-field strategising than in other team sports such as football or hockey.
Things have changed somewhat in the post-Twenty20 era. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to call it the post-IPL era. Captaincy in Twenty20 International matches is a different animal than in Indian Premier League matches.
The shift was apparent a year ago, when Kumar Sangakkara, the captain of the erstwhile Deccan Chargers, sat himself out of a few matches because of poor form. Daniel Vettori too sat out of Royal Challengers Bangalore matches to allow the side to field Muttiah Muralitharan. Contrast this with the Australian Test side of the mid-1990s, in which Mark Taylor was nursed through a horror run of 21 Test innings without a half-century, before ending the drought with a century in the first Ashes Test in June 1997.