Adam Voges is second only to The Don – and stats don’t lie

Alec Swann Columnist

By Alec Swann, Alec Swann is a Roar Expert

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    Adam Voges is the second-best batsman of all time. The stats say so.

    Yes, yes, yes, I realise the sample size of the relevant material isn’t very big (played at least 20 Tests) so you can stop your coughing, but until somebody else puts up better numbers than Voges, then in second place he will remain.

    Better than Graeme Pollock, superior to Sachin Tendulkar, usurping Jacques Kallis and waving back at Brain Lara.

    Better, in fact, than everybody bar Don Bradman, who isn’t likely to relinquish his grip on top spot. If ever, actually.

    But back to Voges. A good, solid operator who, with years of first-class cricket behind him, took his belated chance with both hands and firmly endorsed the adage of not being able to buy experience.

    All achieved under the forever loosening scythe of Old Father Time, Voges’ late flowering was a nice and simple lesson for not only cricketers but sportsmen and women the world over, of never giving up because you just never know when fate is going to deal you a decent hand.

    It is inevitable that what he achieved will induce a retort by some of being a consequence of the era played in; of weaker bowling attacks and flatter surfaces; of a lack of patience showed by the younger generation. But therein lies the crux of the argument that pits era against era.

    Australias Adam Voges raises his bat

    It generally makes for good conversation but always without a definitive answer.

    There are seemingly indisputable facts formed by a proximity to a particular time. George Best had few equals as a footballer to many of my dad’s age, but those who have only seen Lionel Messi may disagree. I’ve not seen a golfer capable of getting anywhere near Tiger Woods in his prime, but I wasn’t around to see Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus strutting their stuff.

    I could go on and on, renegotiating the same circle time and again without ever spying a finish line.

    If some kind of reasoning can be applied to such a quandary then it is usually via the medium of stats. What else, really, is there by which to judge?

    There will never be a completely reliable method as eyewitness accounts are subjective but at least numbers add something tangible, the meat to the bone if you like. Yet even then, the full story cannot be trusted to a computer screen or spreadsheet.

    Not even Voges himself would place his ability as a batsman alongside some of the luminaries mentioned, but it’s hardly his fault that the West Indians he faced didn’t have Curtly Ambrose and Malcolm Marshall galloping in, or the New Zealand vintage of 2016 weren’t led by Richard Hadlee.

    It was thought-provoking the other year when suggestions were made regarding the stats from the pink-ball Test matches existing outside of those gathered from the red-ball equivalent; of the novelty element rendering whatever was achieved as needing an asterisk against it.

    Not necessarily a silly idea, but where would the line be drawn if you went down that road?

    Not all Test cricket has been played on covered wickets, with DRS, with neutral umpires, or with the benefit of artificial light. A couple of those points may be a touch facetious but you get my drift.

    It’s an imperfect method but until the day comes when every individual has an identical environment and set of circumstances, in all of its manipulative glory, it’ll simply have to do.

    Cricket exists in a sea of stats, it always has and it always will. Their relevance may come and go depending on what’s in vogue at the time – Peter Moores was slaughtered for supposedly relying on them during England’s disastrous 2015 World Cup but T20 franchises are increasingly basing their strategies on data – but they’re not going away.

    So while you can mock all you like, Adam Voges is the second best batsman of all time.

    Why? The stats say so.

    Alec Swann
    Alec Swann

    Alec Swann is a former Northants and Lancashire opener turned cricket writer. Outside of the joys of a Test match, Newcastle United and golf generally occupy his other sporting interests with a soft spot for the Newcastle Knights.

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    The Crowd Says (37)

    • February 17th 2017 @ 8:55am
      bigbaz said | February 17th 2017 @ 8:55am | ! Report

      Well, that should get Hugh and Peebo going.

    • February 17th 2017 @ 9:07am
      Peebo said | February 17th 2017 @ 9:07am | ! Report

      “Yes, yes, yes, I realise the sample size of the relevant material isn’t very big (played at least 20 Tests) so you can stop your coughing, but until somebody else puts up better numbers than Voges, then in second place he will remain.”

      We found out that 19 innings wasn’t enough to determine substance with Syd Barnes and now we’ve found that 31 isn’t enough with Voges. Voges is number two only based on flawed calibrations. The minute the table is tweaked to remedy that, Voges is not in the equation. Simple as that.

      • February 17th 2017 @ 9:48am
        bigbaz said | February 17th 2017 @ 9:48am | ! Report

        Until someone else comes along that you don’t agree with then we’ll tweak it again. Syd upset the establishment, so everything was done to disappear him.

        • February 17th 2017 @ 10:10am
          Peebo said | February 17th 2017 @ 10:10am | ! Report

          Bigbaz, we have a clearer picture of Voges stature based on his Shield performances. He averages just on the mid 40’s. That’s in well over 200 innings and that’s in an age where the best bowlers hardly got to play in it. You blokes can be smug all you want about him being second but really, he isn’t good enough to be considered in the best couple of hundred batsmen to have played Test cricket. Those of us who get narky with you ‘it is what it is’ types can always point to that. And I challenge you to tell me who your rate him ahead of? That’ll really get us narks laughing if you say Tendulkar, Sobers and the 100’s more who tower above him. I’d even chortle if you have him ahead of Dirk Welham.

          • February 17th 2017 @ 10:20am
            bigbaz said | February 17th 2017 @ 10:20am | ! Report

            To be perfectly honest Peebo , I don’t really care but I love watching you get your nickers in a knot. Incidentally , I don’t really care about who rates where, my favourite cricketer is Peter Toohey and I’ll bet he’s no one else’s except for maybe himself. Cheers

            • February 17th 2017 @ 1:35pm
              Art Vanderlay said | February 17th 2017 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

              I think his mum had a bit of a soft spot for him too bb.

        • February 17th 2017 @ 10:30am
          Pope Paul VII said | February 17th 2017 @ 10:30am | ! Report

          Love the Catch 22 reference as much as Syd loved a conspiracy.

      • February 17th 2017 @ 10:40am
        qwetzen said | February 17th 2017 @ 10:40am | ! Report

        What rubbish. Vogesy was a tremendous batsman. Easily worthy of the 2otB title. F’rinstance, did you know that he averaged over, well over in fact, 100 at three different grounds in the Shield? Even DGB can’t beat that.

        • February 17th 2017 @ 11:16am
          Peebo said | February 17th 2017 @ 11:16am | ! Report

          More gutsing!

    • February 17th 2017 @ 10:06am
      bearfax said | February 17th 2017 @ 10:06am | ! Report

      Hold on a moment. I’ve laughed so much I think I’ve wet me pants.

    • February 17th 2017 @ 10:51am
      Rob JM said | February 17th 2017 @ 10:51am | ! Report

      Number 83 on the all time player rankings list. Still seems a little high!

      • February 17th 2017 @ 12:34pm
        Andy said | February 17th 2017 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

        how is that calculated because yeah that seems stupidly high

        • Roar Guru

          February 17th 2017 @ 1:04pm
          Chris Kettlewell said | February 17th 2017 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

          It’s the same as the current player rankings. They take into account quality of the opposition, as well as other performances in the same match (eg, if you scored 200 in a match where there were 5 other centuries including a teammate getting 300, that wouldn’t score you as many points as scoring 120 in a match where the next best score by any batsman was 20!) and it”s also weighted to the more recent performances, so over time the older ones drop off, meaning a player having a great 18 months can shoot to the top of the rankings for a period of time.

          The rankings show what players current ratings are, and they also have the highest ever rating they’ve achieved in their careers. The overall player rankings list is basically done applying those rules to all players who’ve played the game based on showing the best ranking that was achieved at any point through their career, rather than one that takes into account their whole career. So it sort of shows how good they were at their absolute best, rather than how good they managed to be over their entire career.

          As Voges did very well (as shown by his stats) in the time he played, he’s still going to do reasonably well on that ranking list. The fact that pretty much all those runs were scored in matches where lots of runs were scored overall has a lot to do with the fact he’s as far down as 83. As is the fact that it might require more than 20 tests for a full rating. But the fact is, that if you score all those runs you are still going to have a pretty decent rating, even against poor opposition where lots of runs were scored.

    • February 17th 2017 @ 11:29am
      Geoff said | February 17th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

      Ha.

      Not even close.

      He wasn’t even the 2nd best batsman in that particular Aussie side

    • Roar Rookie

      February 17th 2017 @ 11:44am
      Alexander Livingston said | February 17th 2017 @ 11:44am | ! Report

      v South Africa avg 7
      v Sri Lanka avg 20
      v England avg 29
      v West Indies avg 542

      Bet the poor old Windies are pleased to see the back of him!

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