Cricket: Cowan knows his strengths

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The Independent Online
In preparing for his first tour at any level Ashley Cowan, who has never felt the need to be a tearaway fast bowler, listened to the advice of the former England fast bowlers Geoff Arnold and Graham Dilley before setting out to the West Indies.

"They said that if somebody can prove to you that will be a better bowler by being quick then change," said Cowan, who claimed 52 Championship wickets last summer and delivered a crucial new-ball spell in the NatWest final against Warwickshire to help Essex lift the Trophy.

"I've had a short run-up all the way through my school career and into Minor Counties. People have said I should lengthen my run-up for a bit more pace, but I never felt I needed to, I felt comfortable with it.

"You know if you're not going to be an out-and-out quickie. I'm not that. I do thing others don't. I move the ball away from the right-hander, that's my general wicket-taking delivery, with the odd exception. I've got the added advantage that I'm tall and I hit the deck hard. I'm just trying to keep it simple as I can."

A back operation in 1994 made it necessary for Cowan to remodel his action with help from another Essex and England fast bowler, Neil Foster.

There is not a great deal of opportunity left for Cowan to make his mark before the opening match of the tour - against Jamaica on Friday - but he seemed on form in England's first full practice of the tour at the Kensington Club yesterday.

He looked fit and sharp during a six-over stint, played in a match-situation with a full set of fieldsmen and batsman hitting boundaries and running singles.

All the bowlers had similar spells against the batsmen, a format that will continue.

- David Field