England's greatest Test captain: Who did you pick?

Nasser Hussain, Douglas Jardine, Mike Brearley, Alastair Cook
Former England skippers (clockwise from top left) Nasser Hussain, Mike Brearley, Alastair Cook and Douglas Jardine

Who is England's greatest Test captain?

That's the question we posed to users of the BBC Sport website, on the eve of Alastair Cook breaking Michael Atherton's record for the most Tests as captain of England.

Cook has now led his country 55 times, but is he the best? You've been voting for your top five for almost a week, and there's a very clear winner...

England's greatest Test captain is...

Mike Brearley
Mike Brearley captained England in 31 of his 39 Tests

Mike Brearley appeared in 82% of the 55,000 lists submitted, and was ranked number one in 41% of them.

Michael Vaughan was the only other captain to be top of more than 20% of your rankings.

Based on your selections, the five best England Test captains of all time are (in ranking order):

  1. Mike Brearley (1977-1981 - P31, W18, L4; Win percentage 58.06%)
  2. Michael Vaughan (2003-2008 - P51, W26, L11; Win percentage 50.98%)
  3. Andrew Strauss (2006-2012 - P50, W24, L11; Win percentage 48%)
  4. Alastair Cook (2010-present - P55, W24, L18; Win percentage 43.63%)
  5. Douglas Jardine (1931-1934 - P15, W9, L1; Win percentage 60%)

Why Brearley?

Perhaps it is no surprise a man who authored a book titled 'The Art of Captaincy' came out on top.

Brearley, now 74, averaged only 23 with the bat in Test cricket and never scored a century - but his ability to mould a team and inspire them to success marked him out.

Indeed, Australia fast bowler Rodney Hogg once said Brearley "has a degree in people".

The Englishman's greatest moment came during the 1981 Ashes series against Australia.

England, under the leadership of all-rounder Sir Ian Botham, lost the first Test and drew the second.

Brearley stepped up for the third and engineered a quite remarkable turnaround in which England recovered from 135-7 following on to win the Test.

Botham was the catalyst in the middle, and the momentum shift saw England win the series in style by triumphing in the next two Tests.

Brearley took England and Botham from one of their lowest points to arguably their most famous victory in the space of a few days.

The best of the rest

Michael Vaughan with the Ashes urn
Michael Vaughan was rated number one by ex-England batsman James Taylor on BBC Radio 5 live

Vaughan, who won back the Ashes in 2005 after 18 years in Australian hands, was a clear second.

He actually appeared in marginally more top fives than Brearley, but was ranked number one only 24% of the time.

Continuing the theme of Ashes-winning captains, Andrew Strauss, who engineered victory in Australia in 2009-10, was third and Alastair Cook fourth.

Fifth place was less clear.

Douglas Jardine, who masterminded the revolutionary and controversial Bodyline tactics in 1933-34, was picked by 40% of respondents, with 5% having him top.

Yorkshire's Brian Close, statistically England's most successful captain with a win percentage of 86% in seven Tests, was first choice for 8% of people.

However, the fact he polled 4% less of the overall vote than Jardine saw him narrowly lose out on a place in the top five.

Do you agree with the final result? Have you say in the comments section below.

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