Cricket is one of those games where numbers are God.
Fanatics and historians love to dissect batting and bowling averages, strike rates and high scores with a forensic obsession.
I’m pretty sure it’s part of the Australian constitution that schoolchildren need to learn the significance of the number 99.94.
But if you want any more proof that there’s more to the game than numbers, let’s consider the example of Adam Voges.
Voges’ numbers are looking pretty damned good right about now.
The 36-year-old is just 11 Test matches into his career, but his brilliant 269 not out against the West Indies in Hobart on Friday puts his average at an astounding 76.83.
Voges became the oldest player to score a century on debut earlier this year – funnily enough, also against the West Indies.
And he broke Doug Walters record of 242 for the highest score by an Australian against the West Indies.
But let’s be real – you could exhume Sir Donald Bradman and he’d have a decent shot at a 50 against this West Indies attack.
In fact I’d back that famous Australian team that broke the Windies’ stranglehold on the Sir Frank Worrell Trophy in 1995 to beat this present incarnation – even 15 or 20 years removed from their playing days.
(We dare say it may take the site of Greg Ritchie running on the pitch down in Hobart to save this Test match from being one for the mathematicians.)
Voges’ high score and average is what we can chalk up as a statistical anomaly, an outlier brought about by beating up on soft opposition.
Against England on foreign soil he averaged just 28.71 across five Tests.
He’s played well in Hobart, but let’s not kid ourselves that because he has a higher Test score than Ricky Ponting, Sachin Tendulkar and both the Waugh twins that he belongs in their company.
He’s made a solid start to his Test career, but his numbers have been grossly inflated by filling his boots against soft opposition on wickets that suit his game.
He averaged 71.25 in the recent series against New Zealand, aided by a couple of not outs in the opening Test, on tracks that offered little for the bowlers.
When his career is over, he may have earned himself a spot among the late-blooming but highly regarded Hussey/Rogers set.
But let’s take the hyperbole down a notch and remember that in this series we’re watching a cricket nation against a team who look like they should have their Test status rescinded.