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Voges takes the fast track to WA job

01 June 2018

In stark contract to his international playing career, Adam Voges has wasted no time landing his first head coaching role

The defining feature of Adam Voges’ ultimately outstanding Test tenure was that he had to wait patiently for so many summers before opportunity arose.

Elevated to the Australia squad with a genuine hope of earning a Baggy Green Cap in front of his hometown fans at the WACA Ground during the 2006-07 Ashes whitewash, Voges was forced to bide a further eight and half years before securing a spot against the West Indies in Dominica.

Where he duly plundered an unbeaten 130 to suggest to selectors that might have acted a bit more promptly, a message further amplified when he ended his 20-Test career with an average of 61.88.

Second only to the incomparable Sir Donald Bradman among those to have played 20 Tests or more.

But having shifted his ambition to the likelihood of a coaching role in the twilight of his playing days, Voges suddenly finds himself fast-tracked into a top-level job more than a year earlier than planned due to the unforeseen upheaval Australia cricket has undergone in recent months.

The smooth succession plan the 38-year-old envisaged being rolled out when incumbent Western Australia coach Justin Langer himself seamlessly transitioned into Darren Lehmann’s national men’s team position in October next year was jettisoned in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal.

With Langer installed as Australia supremo, and Voges the only candidate interviewed for the suddenly vacant chair with the Alcohol. Think Again Western Warriors and Perth Scorchers, his career change to full-time coach has come as quickly as his rise to Test cricket was glacial.

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Yet, if the veteran of 211 first-class matches over 15 years felt daunted by suddenly having to mentor an outfit he only farewelled as a player last February when he quit the KFC Big Bash League, he wasn’t revealing as much at today’s confirmation of his three-year appointment.

“The ambition to take this job on has always been there, and it was probably just about timing,” Voges said in Perth on Thursday ahead of the Warriors’ preparations for 2018-19 that get underway next week.

“Two months ago, we thought that JL (Langer) would probably be stepping up in a year’s time (to the Australia job) and timing-wise I thought that might be a good opportunity.

“But you don’t always get to work in that situation … and the timing is now.

“Throughout my captaincy journey (having led WA since 2007) I guess I’ve been unwittingly preparing for something like this.

“To be involved in the planning, in the selection process and a lot of the meetings that you go to as captain, you certainly get a feel for what the coaching landscape is like.

“And it’s something I’ve always been interested in.”

Voges’ first inkling that he might be moving from WA’s most-capped Sheffield Shield captain (55 matches at the helm) to untried coach came at Lehmann’s tearful resignation media conference at Wanderers in Johannesburg nine weeks ago.

In his post-playing guise as a radio commentator, Voges was a curious and then shocked spectator as Lehmann pulled the plug on his tenure that was to run until the end of next year’s World Cup and Ashes campaigns in the UK.

If Voges needed an example of coaching’s often brutal nature, it was playing out before him as the realisation grew that Langer was the likely replacement for the national vacancy as planned and, by default, the WA position would likely be up for grabs.

Given that he only retired from first-class cricket after his final stint with English county Middlesex at the conclusion of the 2017 northern summer, Voges had found limited scope to expand his coaching experience before applying for his ex-teammate’s old job at the WACA.

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He had taken up a role as head cricket coach with a Perth-based academy that provided high performance and fitness courses for children, and acted as mentor around the WA playing group by dint of his seniority and credentials.

But having impressed a five-person interview panel that included Perth Wildcats’ NBL coach Trevor Gleeson that he could tackle the assignment, Voges holds no doubts that he can take up where Langer left off, and maybe even value-add to the enviable white-ball successes his predecessor oversaw.

“No doubt there’s some big shoes to fill,” Voges said.

“Justin’s done a terrific job with this program and with this group for the last six years and that’s the reason why he’s the Australian coach now.

“But what he leaves is some great values, some great structures and some excellent people here.

“The fact that is I don’t have that experience with the title ‘coach’ next to my name, although I have a lot of leadership experience, particularly with this group.

“It’s just learning about a lot of the things that as a player you don’t see day in, day out.

“As a player you worry about looking after yourself, as a captain you probably worry about looking after your team but as a coach you’ve got a lot more responsibility than that.

“I’ve got some really good friends within the squad and that will present challenges at times as well, but one of my key values is honesty and having those honest conversations.

“I certainly had to do it a number of times as captain, and I certainly don’t shy away from having to have those conversations as a coach.”

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Adam Voges

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