Adam Voges hopes his remarkably productive home summer last year will hold him in good stead when Australia’s selectors assess the fallout from the recent whitewash at the hands of Sri Lanka. Australia lost all three Tests in turning conditions, and will face much of the same early next year they will travel to India for four Tests. But in the meantime, they will host South Africa and Pakistan for six Tests on surfaces that are far more familiar.
Voges was one of the batsmen who struggled to adapt to the slow, spinning pitches in Sri Lanka, where he failed to score a fifty across the three Tests and averaged 19.66. However, last summer he piled up 660 runs at 165.00 in the six home Tests against New Zealand and West Indies, and he also scored profusely on the tour of New Zealand that followed.
But at 36, Voges knows that all his mountains of runs will count for little if he endures a prolonged dry patch, and scores of 47, 12, 8, 28, 22 and 1 constitute the beginnings of one. The home Test summer begins at the WACA against South Africa in early November, and Voges hopes that his track record at that ground, and in Australia generally, will be enough to convince the selectors to stick with him.
“The first home Test for the summer is here at the WACA and obviously conditions are fairly different to what we’ve just experienced,” Voges said on EON Sports Radio on Thursday. “I take a lot of confidence out of what I was able to do last summer, and hopefully get that opportunity here in Perth at my home ground, somewhere that I’ve grown up playing and know the conditions really well.
“I’ve given the selectors the opportunity to leave me out if they wanted to, with how I’ve performed in Sri Lanka. Hopefully they keep the faith with me. I still think I’ve got plenty to offer. I take a lot of confidence out of what I was able to do last summer, and really the form and the run that I’ve had over the last couple of years, hopefully the last three Tests have just been a small blip on what’s been a pretty good couple of years.”
Four times from the six innings in Sri Lanka, Voges was dismissed by Rangana Herath. However, he was far from alone in struggling against Herath, who claimed 28 wickets for the series and caused Australia major problems in all three Tests.
“We didn’t have a lot of answers for him, to be honest,” Voges said. “He has very subtle variations with his release points, his pace, where he stands on the wicket. But ultimately the ball seems to end up relatively in the same area. Some spin, some don’t. And he’s just very crafty. In conditions that suit him, like they did over there, he’s certainly a handful.”
It took until the third Test for Australia to find a batsman to build on a start and go on to reach triple figures – Shaun Marsh and Steven Smith both did so in the first innings in Colombo – but by then the series was decided. Sri Lanka had wrapped up their triumph in Galle, where they set Australia 413 to win. Voges came to the crease at 61 for 4 and reverse swept his first ball, persisting with the shot until it brought him undone on 28.
“We spoke before that fourth innings and on a Galle wicket that was spinning quite a bit, the skipper and the coach asked the batting group to be a lot more proactive with the way we went about things,” Voges said. “The reverse sweep was basically my version of it. I played one first ball, which was a little bit gutsy, but there was only one bloke on the off side and eight on the leg side.
“My thinking was that if I could get one away it would bring at least one of those guys back over and maybe I could find a couple of gaps on the leg side … It always looks bad when you get out playing that sort of shot, but at the time I thought it was the best way to try and combat them and score runs in those conditions … If I had my time again I’d still play the shot – maybe a little more selectively and mix it up a little bit more than what I did.”