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There’s a good case for Cowan

Mitchell Adam Roar Rookie

By Mitchell Adam, Mitchell Adam is a Roar Rookie

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11 Have your say

    I have to admit, I’m a bit bemused by speculation about Ed Cowan’s place in the Australian test team.

    Throughout his second series, the recently-completed West Indies tour, a bit of talk emerged that his spot could come under scrutiny.

    Most of that seemed centred on the fact that he’s yet to score a century and his average is hovering around 30. Early failures in the next test series, against South Africa at the end of the year, could see him lose his place, according to some of the critics.

    But all of that seems premature to me. He came into the Australian team based on strong Sheffield Shield (sorry to whoever’s sponsoring it this year, it’ll always be the Sheffield Shield to me) form and has formed a good partnership with David Warner.

    The importance of the opening partnership goes unsaid, and for the first time in a long time Australia has a pair of actual openers at the top of the order, rather than players transplanted into the role.

    Sure, the likes of Shane Watson, Simon Katich and Justin Langer applied themselves well, and quality batsmen are quality batsmen anywhere in the order, but I think that counts for something.

    Cowan just looks like a man born to open the batting. His measured approach has already seen him weather some difficult conditions – like on debut on Boxing Day – and is the perfect foil for Warner’s more outgoing style.

    And Cowan’s no slug himself when the time is right. While Warner rightfully got all of the headlines in Perth, Cowan was scoring well at the other end.

    As it stands, he’s played 12 innings across seven tests at an average of 29.83, for three half-centuries. Sure, they’re not dazzling numbers, but three of those tests came in the West Indies where, collectively, the Australian batting line-up struggled. In fact, take out the evergreen Shivnarine Chanderpaul, and batsmen from both squads struggled.

    The tail saved the day for Australia on several occasions and that’s reflected in the stats. Nathan Lyon and Ryan Harris topped the averages, while Matthew Wade scored the team’s sole century from the six innings. It was a lean tour for the whole top order.

    As a result, Cowan’s numbers are now in the same territory as the out-of-favour Phil Hughes, Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja. But I don’t think the comparisons are fair. I’d like to see Hughes do well, and hopefully he can get his game back, but – as harsh as this is to say – I felt a tad nervous watching him bat in recent times.

    Marsh was unfortunate with his back injury, and when he came back into the team he was underdone and out of form, while Khawaja probably didn’t do a lot wrong but suffered with moving in and out of the team around Marsh.

    There was a suggestion that Cowan’s second-innings 55 in Roseau would keep the wolves at bay, but where’s the obvious replacement? I don’t rate the notion of moving Watson back to the top of the order, and Cowan’s probably been the form batsman of the last two Shield seasons.

    Australian cricket is getting ready for a massive 2013/2014, with back-to-back Ashes contests. Will Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey still be there and performing? It’s too early to tell. As we saw with the Indian legends over summer, when you fall off the cliff, it’s a big fall.

    The team will evolve over the next year. There’s no doubt about that. But I like what I’ve seen from the Cowan and Warner combination so far and I think they’re the right pairing to lead the team against England. With Cowan 29 and Warner 25, it’s a combo that could go on to enjoy many successful summers.

    If that ends up being the case, Cowan’s numbers will sort themselves out. But right now there’s more to the story.

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    The Crowd Says (11)

    • April 29th 2012 @ 12:31pm
      Bearfax said | April 29th 2012 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

      Hughes test batting average is around 36, somewhat higher than Cowen’s which is under 30, and he also scored three centuries at an average of one every 10 innings. Sure Hughes has played a number of more games than Cowen, but realistically if Hughes is being dropped for a better average and several centuries, how does that make Cowen’s case stronger.

      The suggestion that Cowen scored a number of Shield centuries lately, is a spurious comment. Hughes had been doing it for a lot longer and when you compare their first class averages, Cowen about 40, Hughes a little less than 50, well you’re talking about a totally different class of batsmen. Add to that the fact Cowen is just about to turn 30 years old and Hughes is still a developing talent at 24, it begs the question how Cowen deserves his place.

      And of the suggestion that his average is near Marsh and Khawaja?.Well Marsh was rightly dropped and should never have made the team based on his averages. Khawaja was treated poorly by selectors who showed no confidence in him by giving him two short stints as a test player, primarily as a replacement. Sure his average is similar to Cowen, but again he was dropped for such a performance. He also has a significantly better first class average than Cowen.

      Sorry. I thought it was a mistake puting Marsh and Cowen in the test team. My thoughts were vindicated by Marsh’s poor test form after a couple of good initial efforts, I gave Cowen the benefit of a doubt, but with Warner’s hit and miss type of opening style at this stage, brilliant though it can be at times, you need someone with a little more staying power and an average at least in the low to mid 40s. For mine I’d be getting hold of Hughes, getting rid of that flirting outside his wicket shot and bring him back in post haste.

      • April 29th 2012 @ 1:27pm
        Mitchell Adam said | April 29th 2012 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

        I don’t think numbers were the major factor in Hughes’ demise.

        It was more that he was really struggling, as you say, with that ball outside off-stump. Bowlers knew it and he was in strife, look at the job Chris Martin did on him. On a good day, he was great, but he needs to sort it out. Hopefully he can.

        But I do think it’s too early to judge Cowan on numbers. He was good in the series against India (probably would’ve almost averaged 40) and none of the Australian top order had a good tour of the Windies. As such, the average isn’t looking too flash, but I don’t see it as a major problem.

        • April 30th 2012 @ 6:42am
          ManInBlack said | April 30th 2012 @ 6:42am | ! Report

          Hughes’ numbers were bolstered by some early success. His form line though was really bad and his technique and temperament were very much questioned.

          However, can we say the same about D.Warner who has passed reached or passed 50 only 3 times in 16 bats and so has 353 of his runs accounted in those 3 hits (2 outs) – leaving 237 from the other 13 (12 outs) at an avg of a tick under 20.

          Obviously for any batter, you can extract the couple of good scores and show a relatively ordinary sub group of scores. However, a test class opener should be getting to 50 more than 3 out of 16 hits.

          Cowan’s numbers lack what Warner has managed – a 100 or two. Cowan is pretty consistent around his average. He get’s a lot of starts. Not going on with it is a crime. But, in the Windies this series – that seemed the MO of all the batting order.

          What is astounding presently is all these guys with averages between 25 and 35 with a whole bunch of apologists for each. Sadly, Brad Hodge could’ve provided 4 or 5 years of test cricket for this country had there not been so many so willing to write him off not that very long ago.

    • April 29th 2012 @ 2:35pm
      jamesb said | April 29th 2012 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

      I like the way Cowan plays in which in the old days thats how openers used to bat!

      He still averages close to the 30 despite the fact that he has no centuries, which means he’s a player that gets starts, but doesn’t fail too often. He was also the top scorer in the shield last season as well, so If anything he deserves his chance in the Australian side.

    • April 29th 2012 @ 5:11pm
      aussie1st said | April 29th 2012 @ 5:11pm | ! Report

      Cowan should and more than likely won’t be dropped before our next series. He is at a similar point to Khawaja who shouldn’t have been given the flick. He will however need to start making some runs as another 30 average series will put him under pressure. His only way of surviving that would be the alternatives not putting their hand up.

    • April 29th 2012 @ 7:16pm
      Swampy said | April 29th 2012 @ 7:16pm | ! Report

      The point with cowan is that he is seeing off the new ball – something our openers have been unable to do for quite some time. He is protecting those who come in at 3, 4 & 5. While he averages 30 – his strike rate is probably similar meaning on average he is in for around 60-70 deliveries or in other words a session.

      Problem with Hughes, Warner & co is they have been hit and miss (although Warner is making significant strides in this area). Hughes was good for a quick 60 and was capable of going on with it. The problem with Hughes is that too often it’s all or nothing and the nothing puts huge pressure on the next guys in. Martin destroyed Hughes by bowling to his glaring weakness and you’d be crazy to think Steyn, Morkel & co won’t bowl to exactly the same spot if Hughes was around.

      Khawaja sadly was a victim of circumstances and didn’t grab his opportunity with both hands like say wade has. Since being dropped though he has not justified a recall and really, while he was treated poorly at the time, he hasn’t set the world on fire since.

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    • April 29th 2012 @ 8:23pm
      john nischke said | April 29th 2012 @ 8:23pm | ! Report

      In comparison KHAWJA is a way better batsman than Cowan or Marsh. But he does not seems to have any mates helping him. Unlike the support shown to Cowan by the selectors. His situation can be summed up by another word and I would hate to use it. Just be fair, if KHAWAJA goes then Cowan must go or if Cowan stays then KHAWAJA needs a proper shot at position no 3. He was the only one moved and asked to play in different positions and not for more than two games in a row. Give him a series to a whole series like Marsh or Cowan or Hughes.

      • May 1st 2012 @ 9:05am
        Disco said | May 1st 2012 @ 9:05am | ! Report

        Indeed, the selectors are all over Cowan with verbal support, just like they were with Marsh.

    • April 29th 2012 @ 10:15pm
      Marcus Taylor said | April 29th 2012 @ 10:15pm | ! Report

      I think the problem with Teddy is not his scoring rate, nor even how many runs he gets. He’s a guy that needs to bat time, a guy you can build an innings around. At the moment he’s not batting long enough, and that’s translating into low scores.

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