Adam Charles Voges may not be a household name even with cricket fanatics, but he does have the enviable distinction of having a Test average second only to Sir Donald Bradman. And to put things in the right perspective, ‘second only to the Don’ means you are clearly not a regular Joe.
Voges has been unlucky to get only limited opportunities, pertaining to the settled Australian batting line-up in the 2000s. It wasn’t until late 2007 that he was handed a debut in limited-overs cricket, and he immediately exhibited his athletic fielding and attacking batting.
Voges continued to be the quintessential ‘replacement’ batsman until 2013, when he was given an extended run against the West Indies at home, as the management decided to rest a few key players before the Champions Trophy and test the depth in their batting. He responded with a hundred against the West Indies at Melbourne and had a decent Champions’ Trophy in England as well, scoring 135 runs in 3 innings with one fifty and ended up being the highest scorer for Australia in the tournament. Nevertheless, the Australian selectors continued to be tentative with Voges and he was dropped after a mediocre away series in India later that year.
The Western Australian batsman, however, persevered with tenacity and continued to pile on the runs in domestic cricket. In the 2014/15 season, he scaled new heights in the Sheffield Shield, notching up an unprecedented 1358 runs at a Bradman-esque average of 104.46. His consistency was unreal; as he pelted 6 hundreds in 11 matches.
Finally, at the ripe age of 35, nine years after being selected for the Test squad as a replacement for Damien Martyn and after having worked supremely hard for it, the selectors could no longer deny Voges the coveted Baggy Green. In April 2015, Voges was called up to the Australian Test Cricket squad for the first time in his career for the away Test series against the West Indies and England, respectively. Better late than never, but our hero had arrived. He lost no time in scoring a breezy 130 on his debut in Dominica (He also became the oldest Test debut centurion and the oldest player to win a man-of-the-match award on Test debut) and with that he sealed his berth for the upcoming Ashes tour in England. He did not do anything spectacular in the Ashes to write home about, starting off poorly, but redeeming himself towards the end of the tour with a couple of fifties at Nottingham and the Oval. His brilliant late technique to counter the moving ball in England was particularly noticed. This, however, did not reflect in his statistics and he looked set to be the scapegoat to be axed again, in the aftermath of the Ashes.
However, it seemed that fortune had not quite given up on him. The new Aussie lows saw the retirements of Rogers, Clarke, Watson and Haddin. Voges was seen as an integral part of the new middle-order. In addition, owing to his experience in Shield cricket and an injury to the regular vice-captain Warner, Voges was given the honor of being deputy to captain Steve Smith. Another road hump came his way again, as the tour to Bangladesh was postponed due to security concerns. However, what followed next was absolutely unparalleled and unheard of in the annals of Test cricket.
It all started with the Hobart Test against the West Indies in December 2015, where he scored 269* on the way to a record 4th wicket stand with Shaun Marsh. The 449-run partnership between Voges and Marsh in this match is the highest 4th wicket partnership in Test cricket history, the highest partnership in Australia, the highest against the West Indies, and the second-highest in Tests for Australia. It is also the sixth-highest partnership in Test history, for any wicket. In the Boxing Day Test, he became the third batsman to score over 1000 runs in his debut year (after Mark Taylor with 1219 runs in 1989 and Alastair Cook with 1013 in 2006).
He then went on to score 106* at Melbourne against the same opposition and a 239 against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve in successive innings after that. Over the course of this innings, he rubbed shoulders with another gentleman, by the name of Sachin Tendulkar, whose record he surpassed easily by scoring the most runs between dismissals in Test cricket. While scoring an unprecedented 614 runs between dismissals in Tests, he had overwhelmed Tendulkar’s record of 497. A plethora of other milestones tumbled in the course of these innings. When he was on 172 on his way to his 239 at the Basin Reserve innings, his average briefly touched 100.00 (it however dropped to 97.46, after he was dismissed). He had now scored 969 runs in the 2015-16 season at an amazing average of 161.50, which was yet another record (again, second only to the Don, who had recorded a higher season average twice).
On 11 December 2015, Voges eclipsed the Bellerive Oval’s scoring record, passing Ricky Ponting’s record of 209 runs. He then surpassed Doug Walters’ record of 242 for the highest score by an Australian against the West Indies. This was also his second century against West Indies. At the age of 36 and 68 days, Voges became the oldest Australian to join the list of Test double-centurions, the other three having each scored double-tons at younger ages.
However, after a serious concussion when he was struck on the head by a bouncer while batting for Western Australia and being unable to score a half-century in his final 10 Test innings, Voges decided to hang up his boots in November 2016, with the second-highest Test average of all time (61.87), behind only Bradman and above Steve Smith, Graeme Pollock, George Headley and Herbert Sutcliffe and other great members in the Top 10 club.
Outside Test cricket, there are numerous Voges thrillers. In the ING cup, he set the record for scoring the fastest one-day century in the country’s history. He scored 100 off just 62 deliveries. If this feat wasn’t enough, he also won $50,000 in the same match for hitting the ING sign in the stadium. His performances in the ING cup and Sheffield cup were from the story books.
The most visible statistic that stands out is his inhuman average against the West Indies of 542.00 (no, that is not a typo). His record against New Zealand sounds more real at 99.00.
Adam Voges – he came, he conquered and he left, leaving behind an incredible fairy tale woven into Test cricket records forever.
Ten Highest Test Batting Averages
Player Span Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave
DG Bradman (AUS) 1928-1948 52 80 10 6996 334 99.94
AC Voges (AUS) 2015-2016 20 31 7 1485 269* 61.87
SPD Smith (AUS) 2010-2018 64 117 16 6199 239 61.37
RG Pollock (SA) 1963-1970 23 41 4 2256 274 60.97
GA Headley (WI) 1930-1954 22 40 4 2190 270* 60.83
H Sutcliffe (ENG) 1924-1935 54 84 9 4555 194 60.73
E Paynter (ENG) 1931-1939 20 31 5 1540 243 59.23
KF Barrington (ENG) 1955-1968 82 131 15 6806 256 58.67
ED Weekes (WI) 1948-1958 48 81 5 4455 207 58.61
- Hammond (ENG) 1927-1947 85 140 16 7249 336* 58.45