As Adam Voges was caught and bowled by Kagisa Rabada for 27 during the 1st Test against South Africa, his batting average plummeted to a merely rather good 70.57.
In February, a scarcely believable run of form that saw him score 269* and 106* against West Indies, before compiling 239 against New Zealand at Wellington, meant that his Test average stood at 97.46.
Crucially, the Wellington innings was his 20th in Tests, thereby reaching the minimum stipulation to be included in a list of Test cricket’s highest averages.
At 36 years of age, there was a real possibility that Voges would retire and bridge the seemingly insurmountable gap between Sir Donald Bradman’s perfectly imperfect 99.94, and Graeme Pollock’s 60.97.
Unfortunately for Voges, but fortunately for those who view 99.94 as sacrosanct, a run of low scores against Sri Lanka on a succession of Bunsens has seen him return to mortality.
The quest to become Bradmanesque has been attempted before. Mike Hussey – who like Voges began his Test career in his 30s – once averaged as high as 120.33, before finally dropping below 80 during his 37th Test innings.
When his career was finally timed out at 79 Tests, Hussey had to settle for 51.53.
It says it all about Bradman’s 99.94 that Hussey and Voges are the only batsmen truly to threaten the record in recent times, and yet they aren’t even close.
It’s interesting to note that Voges and Hussey both had excellent starts to their Test careers, whereas Bradman enjoyed a steady rise to immortality.
After five innings, Bradman has the lowest average of the three (50.00), with Hussey on 110.33 and Voges on 56.00.
Voges quickly drops below The Don, but Hussey clings on to top spot for 10 innings before Bradman’s 254 in the 2nd Test at Lord’s in 1930 sees his average rise to 86.10.
Bradman’s average rose to as high as 112.29 after he scored 299* against South Africa at Adelaide.
He ended an innings with a 100+ average on 23 occasions, and prior to his famous last-innings duck, his average stood at an unpoetic 101.39.
For Voges, the slide towards supreme normality continues by the innings.
Another pretender to the throne has been dispatched. The wait for the impossible goes on.