Voges Can Shine
In Championship Finale
Comment and Analysis | 24th August 2010
Arriving at Trent Bridge as an overseas player has always brought with it a weight of expectation, but Adam Voges will be thrown straight into the melting pot when he returns next week to begin his third spell at Nottinghamshire.
He’s only here for three County Championship matches, yet the 30-year-old will be under significant pressure to deliver the runs that will help the green and golds over the line as they bid for a first Division One title since 2005.
There’s no doubt that making an impact in such a short space of time is always going to be difficult for any player, no matter how good they are.
And in Voges’ case, his task is made all the harder by inevitable comparisons with David Hussey, whose legendary exploits over the years, since first signing in 2004, have earned him cult status in Nottingham.
Both Australian, both born in the Perth area of Western Australia and both possessing an insatiable appetite for scoring runs, there backgrounds are pretty similar.
But Voges has yet to fully win over the Notts members in the same way that the man he is replacing – the indomitable Hussey – has.
In his first year at Trent Bridge in 2008, there was no doubting Voges found life challenging, scoring 550 runs in 11 four-day matches at 34.37, with a highest score 69 and only three fifties.
Despite several excellent one-day performances, it was not the kind of form that demanded a return, but Notts kept the faith and were rewarded last year with a much better season from their import.
The right-hander made 99 in his first game against Hampshire and went on to record 697 runs in eight games at 77.44, including a maiden County Championship century for Notts with 139 against Sussex.
However, while that represented an excellent and marked improvement, his critics still argue he does not convert enough good starts into big scores.
"Voges should be flying in full of confidence after his last spell at Notts when his star was very much on the rise."
Fifties are useful, but centuries are what really marks out a player of class – and one in 19 matches is, his doubters say, not the best of track records in that regard.
History also shows it is very tough to deliver the goods in such a short stint, as Voges will be forced to do this time.
Short-term stop-gaps have almost unanimously struggled to make an impact looking back over the time since current director of cricket Mick Newell took over in 2002.
The green and golds have chosen wisely with their overseas players who have played for all or a big chunk of the season – Hussey, Stephen Fleming and Stuart MacGill are three good examples.
But those who have played five games or less during the Newell era have seldom been hits, in fact quite the reverse.
Back in 2002, South African Lance Klusener joined Notts but contributed 0-29 with ball and 0 and 42 with the bat in his one County Championship outing as his side were beaten by an innings against Middlesex.
The following year, Notts employed two overseas ‘short-termers’ and both largely flopped. New Zealander Daniel Vettori took five wickets at 39.6 in his one outing, falling for a duck, while South African Steve Elworthy captured 14 wickets in four matches at 36.64, also chipping in with 159 runs at 22.71.
Next up came a short stint from Pakistan batsman Younis Khan in 2005. Although Notts won the four-day title it had little to do with the future captain of his country as he made just 131 runs from five matches at 21.83, filling in during the absence of skipper Stephen Fleming.
Andre Adams faired reasonably when he arrived as an overseas player at the tail end of 2007 at a time before he had acquired Kolpak status through his West Indian heritage.
Drafted in for Hussey, away on international duty, he helped Notts to promotion from Division Two after the club had been relegated the previous season, grabbing 14 wickets in four matches at 35.78 and 104 runs at 20.80.
Yet it has to be said, they were still not figures to compare with those in his subsequent years when he has been around for the whole summer.
Ashwell Prince was another world-class batsman who failed to prosper as another fill-in for Hussey in the latter part of 2008.
The South African managed only one fifty and 131 runs in four matches at 30.75.
By far and away the most successful of the ‘temps’ came earlier this season in the shape of prolific run-getter Hashim Amla.
The South African carried his terrific winter Test form into the new County Championship campaign where he notched a brilliant 129 on his competitive Notts debut in an innings win over Kent.
His four-game stay ended with 377 runs in the bank at an average of 75.4.
Those statistics clearly highlight that too much should not be expected of someone parachuted in from the cold, no matter whether they bat or bowl.
What Voges has in his favour, though, is that he has played at Trent Bridge before – and recently too – unlike the others detailed.
He knows the set-up, director of cricket Mick Newell’s management style and a fair chunk of his team-mates.
He knows English pitches and has encountered the prodigious swing in northern hemisphere conditions, both very different to his native Australia.
And he knows many of the county bowlers, including fellow overseas stars, that will be doing their utmost to help their teams snatch top spot from Notts.
Moreover, Voges should be flying in full of confidence after his last spell at Notts when his star was very much on the rise.
He seemed to overcome a mental hurdle while here last summer, which could serve him well in these vital last few weeks in the heat of battle at Durham and Lancashire and at home to Yorkshire.
Knowing Voges, there will be a steely determination to play a key part in leading his adopted county to glory come the last day of the season on September 16.
If he can, then he will not only emerge from Hussey’s shadow once and for all, but be the toast of all Nottinghamshire.