Adam Voges has become the second greatest Test batsman in cricket history. Well, sort of.
With his commanding innings of 174* on Day 1 of the First Test against the West Indies, the late-blooming 36-year-old Australian can boast of a Test batting average second only to the great Don Bradman.
Climbing the shoulders of giants
Voges strode to the crease at the fall of Australia’s second wicket today having scored 653 runs in 16 innings, having been dismissed 12 times and left not out on four occasions, with a surprisingly impressive average of 54.41. Of the active Test players, only Steve Smith (54.61) and Joe Root (54.90), currently joint #1 in the ICC Test cricket batting rankings, bettered him.
As he proceeded to pummel the lacklustre (and that’s an understatement) Windies attack, and presuming he does eventually get out this innings, at 61 runs the Western Australian passed both Smith’s and Root’s career averages. At 67 he went past recent great Jacques Kallis (55.37) and on 94 he topped the highest placed contemporary player on the all-time list, at 10th, the just retired Kumar Sangakkara (57.40).
Voges breezed onto his ton, his third in Tests, at a run a ball, to see the teams in to the tea break.
In the final session, at the 140 mark Voges (again, assuming he does eventually lose his wicket) surpassed South African great Graeme Pollock (60.97) who lies in second spot on the all-time Test batting averages list.
That’s right, while the cricket world debates whether Smith, Root or AB de Villiers deserves the #1 ranking, and David Warner dazzles with his multiple-century fireworks, the quiet achiever Adam Charles Voges has subtly only gone and built the second best Test batting average in cricket history!
So, why don’t you see Voges on the list?
Well, I’m glad you asked.
The reason you won’t see Voges on the all-time batting averages list (yet) is in the small print. To make the list, a player must have batted at least 20 innings. This is only his 17th visit to the Test match crease.
That said, Voges will qualify for the list after just another three innings beyond this one and the West Indies cricket team he faces are but a shadow of their once glorious selves. This current series presents him and the rest of the Aussies with a golden opportunity to inflate their averages, bowling and batting, against truly sub-par competition.
Can he make it official?
Let’s say Adam Voges does actually bat his next three innings in this series (not guaranteed against these Windies) and that he is dismissed in his current innings and those next three (a ‘not out’ will make the maths even easier for him). He will need to have amassed 266 runs across the four digs to officially etch his name above Sangakkara and 323 runs to wedge himself between Pollock and the mighty Don.
At the close of play today he had already knocked off 174 of those, not out.
So it’s highly likely that Voges will welcome in the New Year at the SCG with a debut on the Test averages list as the top contemporary batsman. It is very conceivable that he will even be the top batsman of the modern era, second in all of Test cricket history.
Of course, given the infancy of his Test career, the maths also dictates that a few cheap dismissals will see him plummet down the list just as quickly as he’s ascended it.
*UPDATE Day 2: Adam Voges will now definitely debut on the all-time Test averages list at #2. Australia declared their innings at 583/4 with Voges not out on 269. The not out means he is still only dismissed 12 times, putting his career average so far at an incredible 76.83. It also means that even if he now follows up in his next three innings (getting him to the magic 20 innings to qualify for the official list) with three ducks, his average will still be 61.47, a touch higher than Graeme Pollock’s 60.97. So, barring a career ending injury in the next few weeks, it’s official.
Does Adam Voges belong among the greats of cricket?
True greatness can only be measured over the course of a long career against varied opposition, both home and away, tallying thousands of runs in a CV chock full of classic, gritty, match winning innings.
Unfortunately for Voges, at 36-years-old, time is not on his side to earn a seat in the Pantheon. But if he keeps this up, he will indeed be among the greats, even above them, in at least one stats list.
**And because I know you are wondering… To top the supernatural Don Bradman (99.94), Voges would only need to have posted a measly 647 in this innings, or 947 over this and the following three innings to make it official.
IMAGE: Adam Voges makes a century in the Hobart Test. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)