Voges ready to come in from the fringe
Last November, Adam Voges didn't know where his next run would come from. His first 12 innings in the domestic season failed to bring a single half-century and not only did an international recall appear far-fetched, even his grasp on a spot in the Western Australia team was becoming tenuous. For a 33-year-old, that's a scary position to be in. But fast-forward five months and Voges has not only held his state job, he is part of the Australia squad that will defend the Champions Trophy in England.
"If you'd asked me if I'd be in a Champions Trophy squad back then I probably would have laughed at you," Voges told ESPNcricinfo. "But it's amazing how quickly things can turn around. Having a good Big Bash was a real catalyst for that and I've been able to kick on since then."
Another factor in his change of fortunes was the arrival of Justin Langer as the new Western Australia coach, which coincided with Voges being appointed state captain after the resignation of Marcus North. Voges became the sixth-leading run scorer in the BBL and earned a recall to the one-day international side for the series against West Indies in February, and an unbeaten 112 in the last ODI in Melbourne completed a remarkable turnaround.
"I started last season really poorly. Myself personally and Western Australia as a team, we really had a horror start to last season," he said. "I was always playing catch-up in terms of the number of runs that I scored. I'd finished the county season for Nottinghamshire not very well, and then to not start the season with WA well, my confidence was down a fair bit.
"I was going through one of those patches where I wasn't really sure where my next run was coming from. If I didn't score some runs [being dropped by WA] was a real possibility. But then a lot of things changed with Marcus resigning, [coach] Lachie Stevens resigning and Justin Langer coming in. It gave me a breath of fresh air and I think it gave a lot of people the same thing. It certainly helped turn my season around."
Not that everything went swimmingly for Voges, whose Sheffield Shield run tally for the summer was 388 at 25.86, hardly the kind of season he wanted in a year when Ashes spots were up for grabs. His limited-overs form was good but even so, that February recall, two years after he had last played for Australia, loomed as the last chance for a man who had been on the fringes of Australian international cricket for six years without ever holding down a permanent place.
Voges earned central contracts with Cricket Australia in 2007, 2008 and 2010, without ever being more than a backup. He has played 17 ODIs of a possible 164 since his debut, and has never held his position for more than three in a row. He is one of only four men in this Champions Trophy squad that was part of the group that won the tournament in 2009, but again he was no more than a reserve and did not play a game.
"I've been away on tours and probably got opportunities at the back end of series, perhaps when the result has already occurred, so I'd love to be part of it and get a decent, long run in the team," Voges said. "Obviously my performances will determine that and the next time I do get that opportunity I certainly have to make the most of it. But I can get those runs.
"In the past, while I don't think I've ever let myself down whenever I've got the opportunity, I maybe haven't quite nailed it as well as I would have liked. That's probably the reason I haven't been able to play more than two or three games in a row. I realise that at this stage of my career that I've really got to make the most of every opportunity because there's plenty of young guys knocking down the door."
The way Voges finished the international summer - he made 28 and 112 not out in his two ODIs and then 51 in the T20 against West Indies in Brisbane - gives him a good chance of being part of Australia's line-up for their first Champions Trophy match. After the tournament, he will stay on in England to play T20 cricket with Middlesex and perhaps some first-class cricket as well, given the county's other Australian signing, Chris Rogers, now has Ashes duties.
And if Australia find themselves in need of another experienced batsman to cover for injuries mid-Ashes, Voges wants to make sure he is nearby and scoring heavily. His Shield performances last summer might have been disappointing, but his overall first-class record is solid: 7821 runs at 40.10.
"With Chris Rogers being picked in the Ashes squad there could be an opportunity for me to stay on and play a bit of Championship and one-day cricket with Middlesex [after the T20s]," Voges said. "It would be terrific to be over there while the Ashes is on.
"You just never know. You never wish injury or anything like that on anybody. But if opportunity arises I'll certainly be there and hopefully scoring runs. It's probably a long shot, but I'll be there and ready to go if need be."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here