Cowan beefs up Gloucestershire
Ed Cowan continued the impressive start to his Gloucestershire stint, helping them take charge on day two of the LV= County Championship Division Two game with Essex at Cheltenham.
The 30-year-old left-hander added to his 70 on debut versus Worcestershire in the Friends Life t20, an innings he followed with four against Northamptonshire in the same competition, by compiling a superb 103 to help the hosts reach 284 four at the halfway stage of this rain-affected match.
Having played in Australia’s last seven Tests, Cowan will be looking to cement his place in next summer's Ashes squad when he leads the A team against England Lions next month.
Based on the evidence provided by his stubborn performance at the College Ground, he may prove a harder nut to crack than some of those Australia batsmen who have been brushed aside in the NatWest Series by England's formidable pace attack.
Making his championship bow, Cowan batted for five-and-a-half hours on a pitch rendered less than straightforward by heavy overnight rain, facing 268 balls, hitting 12 fours and a six and sharing a fourth-wicket stand of 104 in 36 overs with fellow Antipodean Hamish Marshall.
Resuming on 51 not out, Cowan found runs hard to come by on a drying surface and, hampered by a sluggish outfield, added just 31 from 100 deliveries, including a solitary boundary, during an attritional morning session.
But the advent of the new ball hastened the flow of runs after lunch and Cowan moved swiftly to three figures, straight-driving Reece Topley for four and then easing a full-length ball from David Masters through the covers in the next over to register his hundred.
If a sizeable festival audience expected him to go on and post a really big score, they were disappointed when Cowan was pinned on the front foot next ball by Masters, who was finally rewarded for his nagging accuracy.
Cowan and Marshall staged a match-winning stand of 142 in the FLt20 triumph over Worcestershire at Bristol last week and the former New Zealand Test opener is another man in good form.
Scoring rather more quickly than his partner, Marshall raised his fifty from 95 balls, finding the boundary on seven occasions to keep up the pressure on Essex.
He was still there unbeaten on 72, made from 140 balls, when the rain brought a premature end to proceedings shortly before 3pm.
Marshall has scored eight fours so far and will have his sights set on three figures when he resumes in the morning.
But Gloucestershire skipper Alex Gidman missed out, falling lbw on eight to Topley, who now has figures of 3-70.