Cowan guides Gloucestershire

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Ed Cowan celebrated the award of his Gloucestershire county cap with an unbeaten half-century as the home side reached 147 for two on a rain-affected opening day of the LV= County Championship Division Two match with Essex at Cheltenham.

The Australia Test opener, who will make at most five appearances for the county before leaving to captain Australia A on their tour of England, was presented with his cap before the start of play.

Cowan then hit 51 not out, sharing a second-wicket stand of 109 with Dan Housego, who made a more fluent 60.

Reece Topley was the only successful Essex bowler with 2-37 from 14 overs.

After rain had delayed the start until 1pm, Gloucestershire won the toss and elected to bat under comparatively clear skies.

Ed Cowan

Australia Test opener Ed Cowan contributed an unbeaten fifty on his LV= County Championship debut as Gloucestershire laid a solid platform

They survived a succession of loud Essex appeals until one was answered in the affirmative with the total on 23; Benny Howell adjudged lbw for 18, trying to force Topley through the leg side.

David Masters was typically accurate and conceded only seven runs in his first seven-over spell from the Chapel End.

Cowan struggled to find his timing and took 57 balls to reach double figures, with the help of an edged four to third man off Masters.

Housego looked more comfortable and, at 63 for one, Essex introduced Harbhajan Singh for the first time.

The India spinner, on his debut for the visitors, was welcomed to the game by Housego, who advanced down the pitch to deposit his third delivery over midwicket for six.

Cowan finally got into his stride and matched Housego's maximum with a perfectly timed pull over deep square-leg off Graham Napier.

Housego reached his half-century soon after tea, having faced 90 balls and hit four fours and a maximum.

Yet, with the total on 131, Topley's full-length ball pierced Housego's defence and bowled him. The young left-arm seamer had given little away and his 14 overs featured four maidens.

Cowan eventually brought up his fifty off 143 balls, with seven fours and a six. While it would not rank among his best innings, it was a very important one for his newly adopted county.

The Australian played two Friends Life t20 games and is due to feature in as many Clydesdale Bank 40 fixtures at the Cheltenham Festival before being replaced as Gloucestershire’s overseas signing by New Zealand batsman Rob Nicol.

Gloucestershire's policy is to award a cap to all players who represent them at senior level and chairman Rex Body made the presentation before the start.

Shortly after Cowan reached his half-century, bad light stopped play and the heavens then opened to ensure the teams remained off the field.

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