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So long Ed Cowan and thanks for the memories

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    Are players like Ed Cowan a thing of the past? (AAP Image/Julian Smith).

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    We have all heard of batsmen who can bowl or bowlers who can bat. Allow me introduce you to a new phenomenon in world cricket: the batsman who cannot bat.

    More popularly known as Ed Cowan, he is the rarest of breeds.

    What did we expect? The Australian Test selectors pick a near-30-year-old journeyman to debut for Australia and expect that he’ll solve the team’s top order woes?


    We have now tolerated Ed Cowan through two full Test series and seven Test matches, and his performances with the bat would barely have impressed his mother. Everybody else is still trying to figure out the difference between him and a nightwatchman.

    Cowan’s fighting qualities are not in question. His ability against Test attacks is. When he strides to the crease, adopts his upright stance and wobbles the toe of his bat near two o’clock, people around Australia take up their preferred viewing position. Huddled behind the sofa.

    Against bowling that can best be described as impotent, he has failed miserably. In four Tests versus India, Cowan was confronted with a raw Yadav, an aching Zaheer, a wayward Sharma, an ineffective Ashwin and flat pitches.

    The result? 206 tooth-pulling runs at an average of 34.

    Soon after, in three Tests against an even more pedestrian and inexperienced bowling line-up in the Caribbean, our soporific opener managed to peel off 152 runs at a wholly unspectacular average of 25.

    When an opener places a high value on his wicket and digs in when wickets are falling around him, they earn respect. When an opener makes a start and gets to 20 or 30 off 100 balls, he is expected to go on with it more often than not.

    Cowan has reached 20 seven times in his Test career and has never gone on with it. Not once.

    Players who reach Test level often need to tweak their game to survive. Cowan, in contrast, has stuck with the same awkward technique that he has used against Shield fodder during the sunniest 18 months of his career.

    This approach has simply not been up to Test standard. He clearly has neither the range of shots nor the resources to adapt his game to prosper at the higher level.

    What is disturbing is that in getting to 20 or 30, Cowan often looks scratchy. His catalogue of near misses has to be seen to be believed, whether it is dropped catches or clumsy run-out attempts.

    His slow reaction times and propensity to edge to the cordon will not have gone unnoticed.

    Of greater concern however is his judgment outside off-stump. In just seven Test appearances, the Australian cricket public has already lost count of the number of times he has shouldered arms only to see the ball clatter into his pads. He has been dismissed LBW a staggering 50 percent of the time.

    His refusal to play a shot to a Ravi Rampaul inswinger in the second over of last week’s Dominica Test is just the latest example. Is this the pedigree of a Test class opener?

    It is little wonder the English have fallen in love with Cowan. With a Test average of below 30, England would be delighted to see him walking out on a Lord’s green top for the opening Test of the 2013 Ashes series. Who wouldn’t?

    Cowan has won plaudits for writing books and articles on cricket. For his efforts, one wag on Twitter has labelled him our very own Pulitzer Prize winner.

    It seems writing self-congratulatory material for Cricinfo may help get you into the Test team, but it is your cricket ability that keeps you there.

    If you are still wavering on Cowan, here is what Michael Holding had to say: “I don’t think the Australian openers are that hot, I think they have a lot of work to do, a lot of learning to do.”

    He went on to add, “I do not think these two [Cowan and Warner] will be good enough to do a good job in England for the Ashes.”

    Warner has shown he can adapt and has time to improve further. Cowan has reached his potential and it is well below Test level. His time has come.

    Congratulations Ed Cowan on a very mediocre Test career. Thanks for the memories.

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    The Crowd Says (72)

    • April 30th 2012 @ 6:08am
      Kris said | April 30th 2012 @ 6:08am | ! Report

      What a nasty, spiteful piece.

      • April 30th 2012 @ 6:50am
        Uncle Eric said | April 30th 2012 @ 6:50am | ! Report

        Totally agree Kris, obviously Junior forgot to take his medication.

      • April 30th 2012 @ 9:13pm
        NSW's players get in no matter said | April 30th 2012 @ 9:13pm | ! Report

        Funny how NSW comes last in the Shield but their guys keep getting the inside running into the test team. Any wonder Australia underperforms, starting with the captain.

        • May 1st 2012 @ 8:28am
          AndyMack said | May 1st 2012 @ 8:28am | ! Report

          You still having a crack at Clarke?? After how well he has done?? Methinks that is your bias coming to the fore, not the selectors…..

        • May 1st 2012 @ 12:09pm
          Charles said | May 1st 2012 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

          NSW did not come last in the Shield last season and a finalist the year before! Sorry but that fallacy is long gone if you check out who’s from where nowadays. Do the names Bollinger, Copeland, Khawaja and Hughes ring any bells in regard to any favours or inside running from the selectors? I don’t think so, move on, old argument.

    • April 30th 2012 @ 6:14am
      Scott minto said | April 30th 2012 @ 6:14am | ! Report

      Ease up Junior (unless you’re actually Mark Waugh)

      Cowan has been fairly solid and needs some more time before we can judge him.

      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download The Roar’s iPhone App in the App Store here.

    • April 30th 2012 @ 6:17am
      ManInBlack said | April 30th 2012 @ 6:17am | ! Report

      While I agree with the notion that Cowan is thus far not living up to – I don’t want to say ‘hype’ – but, not up to the grade,

      however, when noting that not one single recognised batter for Australia averaged over 50 for the series, Not even over 40. Those rarified heights were left to Harris and Lyon.

      Best ‘batter’ comes in with Wade at 39.5 (and his position is considered on the line for a returning over the hill never was that good keeper batsman in Haddin).

      so, Cowan’s output – not good enough, but, who’s was (amongst the specialist batsmen) in the Windies?

    • April 30th 2012 @ 6:58am
      AndyMack said | April 30th 2012 @ 6:58am | ! Report

      He has a mediocre record in 10 years of first class cricket. No surprises to me he has struggled.

      Seems a good guy, a good guy to have in the dressingroom, but if he is not scoring big runs at the top of the order he isn’t doing his job. At least give the role to a younger guy who might improve over time.

    • April 30th 2012 @ 7:44am
      TomC said | April 30th 2012 @ 7:44am | ! Report

      Awful. Just awful.

      Yet another piece of evidence for the case that the Roar need to scrutinise articles more closely before putting them up.

      • Columnist

        April 30th 2012 @ 8:53am
        Geoff Lemon said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:53am | ! Report

        Tom, The Roar scrutinises and publishes Crowd articles based on writing quality and ability to express an argument. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this one, as much as you might disagree with it.

        I disagree with it too (see my comment below), but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be run.

    • April 30th 2012 @ 8:06am
      jamesb said | April 30th 2012 @ 8:06am | ! Report

      Whats dissapointing is that the article doesn’t have an alternative for Ed Cowan.

      As for Holding, he does work with the likes of Botham, Athurton and Hussain in every English summer, so he will praise those who pay him.

      Yet Holding forgot to mention how ordinary the pitches were in the West Indies.

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