Australia A will host New Zealand A in two four-day matches and three 50-over matches in Queensland starting later this month, which will run concurrently with Australia’s T20I and ODI tour of South Africa. The A series four-day games will be held at Allan Border Field in Brisbane from August 28-31 and Great Barrier Reef Stadium in Mackay on September 4-7, which will be a day-night fixture with a pink ball. The first 50-over game will also be held in Mackay on September 10 before the second and third games return to Brisbane on September 13 and 15.
The appointment of Voges is a departure from the last two Australia A squads that were led in Sri Lanka last year and New Zealand early this year by Australia assistant coach Andre Borovec to maintain some continuity between to Australia setup and the A team.
But Cricket Australia’s (CA) head of national development Sonya Thompson had approached WA Cricket’s general manager Kade Harvey about allowing Voges to take charge of the Australia A squad for the series after the WA and Scorchers coach had done what no other Australia domestic coach has achieved in winning the Shield, Marsh Cup and BBL treble twice in back-to-back seasons. Current Australia coach Andrew McDonald is the only one who has led sides to an Australian domestic treble since the BBL’s inception, doing so with Victoria and Melbourne Renegades in 2018-19 before becoming an assistant coach and then head coach with Australia.
Voges was delighted to be given the chance to coach an Australia A team.
“I see it as an opportunity,” Voges told ESPNCricinfo. “I love my job here in Perth. I’m really grateful for the opportunity I get here [in WA]. I’d love to continue to develop and grow and learn as much as I can as a coach and this opportunity gives me another chance to do that. So that’s probably how I see it. I’ll enjoy the three-and-a-half weeks that I get with [the Australia A] program and then run or charge full steam into our domestic season. So they’re the priorities at the moment. I’m always looking to just keep learning and growing in the role.”
Voges has spoken to McDonald about keeping some continuity between the national team and the A side in terms of the environment and messaging to players. But McDonald has given him the freedom to create the best environment he sees fit for the series.
“He’s pretty happy for me to take the lead on that,” Voges said. “Albeit I’m certainly mindful of trying to keep those messages as similar as possible. So that gives us a bit of a guide as to what it can potentially look like, and I’ll probably touch base again between now and then but appreciate he’s been pretty busy over the last couple of months.”
Voges is fully aware of the challenges of bringing an A team together at short notice when players are coming and going, while also eyeing personal advancement to the national sides. Despite the challenge being different from taking charge of a year-round state program with a stable group of players, Voges has experienced a lot of chopping and changing within his WA and Scorchers teams over the past two seasons as a number of his players have filtered in and out of national squads during that time. Voges has experience of Australia A programs as a player, combined with his wonderful international career, as well as being part of the 2019 Australia A tour of England as an assistant when he was first finding his feet as a state coach.
“I have had a fair bit to do with Tim over the journey and I’m really excited for him to start to dip his toe into coaching post-career and looking forward to him being around the group. To have a former Australian captain in amongst it and to be able to lean on him and for him to provide that experience to a couple of the younger players I think will be great.”
Adam Voges on having Tim Paine as an assistant coach
“Having been part of those setups as a player as well as a staff member, I think that’s the challenge is to try and unite a group in such a small timeframe,” Voges said.
“CA are putting a big emphasis on these opportunities and trying to provide them [for the players] so hopefully, understanding the opportunity for what it is and making the three-and-a-half weeks as enjoyable as possible. And if we can do that and play some good cricket along the way then hopefully not only does it kick start those players start of the domestic season, but we enjoy our time as well.”
Voges was also excited to reconnect with Paine having spent two years together at CA’s Centre of Excellence as players and played ODI and T20I cricket together, although their Test careers did not overlap.
“I have had a fair bit to do with Tim over the journey and I’m really excited for him to start to dip his toe into coaching post-career and looking forward to him being around the group,” Voges said.
“To have a former Australian captain in amongst it and to be able to lean on him and for him to provide that experience to a couple of the younger players I think will be great.”
Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo