Ed Cowan.

Ed Cowan. Photo: Getty Images

After seven Tests in the baggy green, Ed Cowan knows what Test cricket is all about.

Now the dogged Tasmanian opener wants to take his game, which has successfully stood up to the heat of the new ball, to the next level - a match-winning level.

Cowan is averaging 29.83 to be under pressure at the top of the Australian batting line-up going into Friday's first Test against South Africa, especially with Rob Quiney promoted and Shane Watson set to return at No.3 once he recovers from a calf injury.

"There's always something to prove in the Australian cricket team," said Cowan on Wednesday.

"Seven Tests now is a point in time where you know what Test match cricket is all about and what you need to get to that point in peak performance.

"At no stage have I felt out of my depth; I probably haven't performed as well as I'd have like to in terms of getting myself in and not going on and getting a match-winning score.

"I feel like I belong in the team at the same time and that ultimate belief comes from actually winning the game off your own bat - like a Clarke, Ponting or Hussey.

"That's the difference between averaging 30 and 50."

Cowan has made three half-centuries and failed to get to double figures in all but two of his 12 innings since debuting in last year's Boxing Day Test against India when he batted through to tea for a gallant 68.

Despite struggling to make an impact for Tasmania in tough Shield conditions this season, Cowan is pumped up about the challenge that awaits him against South Africa's menacing pace trio of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel.

"I think my game is pretty well grooved to the moving ball and that's why I'm excited that the Gabba and the WACA are two of the three Tests in this series where I can try and prove that against a good attack."

The Gabba is expecting a big crowd of 28,000 on day one and Cowan knows how important the first day, and first Test, is in setting the tone for the series.

"You can not only set up the game but set up the series," he said. "You can wear down the bowlers not only over a game but over a series which we saw England do at the Gabba here the last Ashes series."

The English declared at 1-517 in their second innings in a drawn opener before going on to pummel Australia's cooked attack in a 3-1 series victory.

AAP