Ashes 2013: Deep-thinker Ed Cowan thrilled by intensity of battle to come

Australian has gone down to No 3 but will have plenty to write about in his diary

Australia have arrived in Nottingham with their batting order for the first Test still to be finalised. It is an unfamiliar position for a side that was once the best in the world and whose top order was pretty much set in stone.

The one certainty now is that there will be a new pair of opening batsmen. Ed Cowan, opener for the previous 17 Test matches, has been relegated with Darren Lehmann, the new coach, stipulating that Shane Watson and Chris Rogers will be at the top of the order. Cowan is pencilled in at the blue riband position of No 3, although it is not yet thought to be a done deal.

Cowan is a fascinating subject as a Test batsman, hardly in the modern mould. He finished his university  education in England, worked as an investment banker and is a writer and thinker on the game who has already published a tour diary.

So far he has made 987 at an average of 32.90 and built a reputation for failing to capitalise on solid starts. Put bluntly, Cowan would have been nowhere near the Australia side that dominated world cricket during the 1990s and early 2000s.

But that should not be mistaken for a lack of ambition in the Baggy Green. He is an assiduous left-handed operator who left New South Wales for Tasmania where he flourished, hitting four hundreds in as many matches at the start of the 2011-12 season, forcing the hand of the selectors.

Cowan’s opening partner in those 17 matches was David Warner and though they got on it was a fascinating combination, the one cerebral, the other rough and ready, the philosopher and the visceral.

When Cowan scored a diligent hundred against South Africa in Brisbane last November it seemed a significant breakthrough had come at last. But it has been followed by more of the same that came before – 11 scores above 20 in 17 innings, none above 86.

“It’s a hard game,” he said. “I think the more you play at this level the more you realise it is harder than it looks.  You learn because of the variation in conditions.

“I have played in the West Indies and in India, they have been my two away trips and they’re so far removed from what I am used to that your game experience explodes.

“There is now a lot less fear  involved in my game plan to spin. Having not faced a lot of it in Australia I feel a new man, post-India.

“I am 31 now and I was saying to Matthew Wade in the nets ‘Why didn’t I learn this when I was 18?’ I am still learning, albeit under pressure and intense scrutiny, but that makes the journey more enjoyable.”

With this sort of character it is  always interesting to hear what they plan on doing when their careers are over. “I think I’d feel guilty going back to investment banking,” Cowan said. “I don’t know if I have the lack of morality to shift wealth around the world. I don’t know what I’ll do, I plan on scoring a few more Test runs.”

Cowan may well turn his hand to writing. He finds the exercise therapeutic and has pages of notes in his phone of topics he wants to cover.

“When I was writing my diary, some days I was walking on to the field, I could stop and wonder what I would get to write about today,” he said. 

“I would start describing my hundred before I got out. It’s important when you’re batting to bat, have the moment with the ball and then think of what to write. That was sometimes a nice feeling, finding descriptions of how you’re feeling, then you’re back batting and then you’d drift back again.”

Intellectual or not, he is plainly thrilled to be in England on the verge of an Ashes series. Whether he plays or not is probably exercising his every waking moment. His experience of having already played at Trent Bridge for Nottinghamshire this season may tilt the balance in his favour.

Cowan said: “It’s a cliché unfortunately but it would be a dream come true. You dream about playing in the Ashes. For me to hang on to a place for nearly two years is a dream in itself.

“Pre-tour, I spoke to Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey, they said there’s Test cricket and there is Ashes cricket. They spoke of the intensity, the  atmosphere and not just for two or three days, but five days throughout a Test match and then turn up to the next venue and five days again. They said it’s relentless, you will love it.”

It would be a pity if Australia cannot find room this summer for this intriguing philosopher.

News
Food blogger and Guardian writer Jack Monroe with her young son
people
News
people
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
TV
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Life and Style
The racy marketing to entice consumers to buy Fairlife, which launches in the US next month
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital