Australia need Ed Cowan as much as he needs them

India v CA Chairman's XI - Day 2

Ed Cowan

After three days of English heroics, Australia finds itself staring at yet another humiliating defeat. You could debate on a lot of things – Clarke coming in at no. 5, Watson opting for a nutty review, Swann coming into his own etc. – to be the cause of the trouble.

The two changes made in hope that things would turn around didn’t alter the usual course of things. Ryan Harris did put in all his might creating a platform that was frittered away. Usman Khwaja, though, did his case no favours by mindlessly stepping out to Swann and offering a dolly to Pietersen at mid-off.

It would be interesting to know what Ed Cowan, the man Khwaja replaced at no.3 would be thinking.

It might not be in the best interests of Australia to overlook Cowan in the current situation

Cowan’s performance in the first Test ensured that he would be vulnerable to omission for the next Test. There is very little to like about Ed Cowan, the batsman.

If batting difficulty level is 1, Cowan makes it seem 10. If the rest of Australian batsmen were awful in the Test at Trent Bridge, Cowan was painfully awful.

However, Ed Cowan has never been very different from what we saw at Trent Bridge. Just that it didn’t come off there. Yet, in similar fashion he has carried on for 18 consecutive Test matches. Save for the match where he scored an attacking (also career saving at that point) hundred against South Africa, Cowan and belligerence have rarely seen eye to eye.

In the Australian setup where Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting were at helm, Ed Cowan might have never found a place in the international team. It was the phase in which Australians transformed the pace Test cricket was played at. Runs were scored at such a fast clip (4 RPO wasn’t uncommon) that the superlative Kangaroo bowlers had ample time and runs to force the opposition into submission.

There was hardly a place for any Cowan-esque cricketers. No surprise then that Ian Chappell and Shane Warne omitted Cowan in their desired playing XI conceived while Australia was getting humbled in India .

Realities, though, change face with changing times. Australia’s batting is in the kind of miserly state in which it cannot afford to bet upon the lavish all the time. You can’t afford to buy a Mercedes car when you are in the middle of a financial crunch. Rather, it is the old motor bike – devoid of any thrills but good enough to carry you – that comes to rescue.

The Kangaroos are fighting for sheer survival at the moment. If your tailenders have to rescue you an abnormal number of times, something somewhere is wrong with the team. More than any time in the history, Aussies today need people who can grind away to glory.

Clarke and Lehman must realistically assess the current situation and not draw halos from the past. They badly need a builder, a stoic run accumulator who brings in some sense of stillness into a perturbed line up. Ed Cowan could be that man. Rather than turning him away, Australia needs to back him.

Batting records of the top eight Australian bastmen since Ed Cowan made his debut. The balls faced column is the key here.

A list of Aussie bastmen since Ed Cowan made his debut. The balls faced column is the key here.

True, for most part, Cowan has been unconvincing. His average, too, is grossly unimpressive for someone who has opened in nearly all the matches he has played in. However, in Australia’s last strife – the tour to India – he was the best batsman after Clarke.

There is a certain breed of cricketers who find a better ally in adversity than in times when their teams are in full pomp. Steve Waugh and Rahul Dravid were two such prominent cricketers who seemed turned on whenever calamity came knocking. To this writer, Cowan is in a similar mould.

Someone in the Australian camp needs to walk up to him to tell him he is needed. As long as the feeling of being misfit in an aggressive Australian culture lingers upon Cowan, he cannot become the best cricketer that he can be and that his team is in mighty need of today.

Ed Cowan got noticed in the domestic arena only when he made a shift to Tasmania from New South Wales. In NSW, amidst a stream of  glistening talent, he found the number of opportunities to be quite few.

The transfer to Tasmania suddenly landed him in a team which was in need. Cowan didn’t disappoint and put on performances that culminated into him finally coming into the international team.

At the moment, not only are the Australians struggling with a skill vaccum, there also is a leadership vaccum created by the sudden departures of Michael Hussey and Ricky Ponting. A thinking cricketer could just be the need of the hour. Ed Cowan deserves a little more backing for in these turbulent times, although in a better form,  Australia badly needs such cricketers!

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