Opening gambit: Ed Cowan's place in the Australian team has been put under pressure.

Opening gambit: Ed Cowan's place in the Australian team has been put under pressure. Photo: Brendan Esposito

CAUGHT in the cross-hairs of his critics and bombarded by advice, opinion and analysis, Test opener Ed Cowan admitted he has adopted the defensive strategy of the ostrich.

''You bury your head in the sand,'' the 31-year-old replied when asked how he'd dealt with the criticisms directed his way. "You literally don't open a newspaper, you don't log on to the internet.

"I love consuming all media to know what is happening in the world but that's had to stop. When you're outside the 'bubble' and hear a sportsman say they stop reading the paper, you think 'oh yeah, sure' and that it is a fabrication and ridiculous. However, it is the old head in the sand; don't know what people are saying, you get about your business and it won't affect your performance.''

By ignoring the sports pages, Cowan, who scored what was hailed as a breakthrough century against South Africa this summer, had missed out on a scrapbook's worth of articles. Although it's unlikely he'd want to preserve stories on him being the weak link in an inexperienced Test team, being too slow running between wickets and not building on starts.

He was painfully aware his partnership with the swashbuckling David Warner was constantly scrutinised. However, he ought to be buoyed by the statistic that puts them seventh in the list of Australia's past 22 opening batting combinations; their average score of 47 has them ahead of the celebrated David Boon-Geoff Marsh pairing.

''Just have to ride the fickleness of it,'' he said, when asked about his mid-pitch understanding with Warner. ''Our relationship is really strong and it's getting better. We had a bit of a hiccup but that can happen.

''We obviously had a mix-up in one innings [when Cowan was run out at the SCG] but in the Test before it we really gelled. Then we made half a mistake together and everyone wants us to find a new solution.''

Cowan has a defence mechanism to survive the glare of Test cricket. "You block it out, you have to," Cowan said, comparing the scrutiny of international cricket with domestic. "If you miss out on a couple of times for the state the coaching staff or selectors realise eventually you're going to come good and that the best XI is the best way forward. I think it takes a while to [understand] people having an opinion, people who don't understand the game having an opinion, and rightly so, they feel they're entitled to it.

"That's the battle, being able to block that out and go about your work and to perform accordingly. I think that is the biggest difference in terms of stepping up to the national team.

''That's the exact reason why I got off Twitter. You'd finish a day's play and Twitter starts with what is a personal experience between you and your friends and a small community, but as soon as there is some public profile or people get hold of your Twitter handle they feel obliged to include that Twitter handle in every conversation they have about you whether it's public or private. Some mentions might be positive, some may be negative, some even scathing and it's just not a nice feeling to have to deal with that so I took it out of my life."

After starting his summer with 136 against South Africa in Brisbane, Cowan finished the SCG Test against Sri Lanka with some critics questioning the merit of him touring India and England. Shane Watson's public comments that he would prefer to open have added further fuel to the debate.

Cowan appreciated why the lustre of his courageous century in Brisbane, a knock in which he stood up to the world's most potent pace attack for 256 deliveries and for 6½ gruelling hours, had dulled.

"You realise people are satisfied with the job you've done in that circumstance," he said. "But you do realise there is an expectation because the public has been bred on legends of the game who played for Australia; Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Ricky Ponting … they did it every second, third or fourth innings over the course of their careers.

''It took them a while to get going, people forget that even Ian Chappell or a Steve Waugh, they took a while to get into their career regardless of their age and their career average reflects that they probably found a way early but weren't as consistent as they may have liked.

''But by the end of it they were probably averaging about 15 or 20 above their [early] career average. People see he averaged 50 for his career, but that doesn't mean he averaged 50 for the entirety of his career. So, in terms of that, I walked away from Brisbane knowing it was a job well done but I needed to keep scoring runs.''

Even quarantined from the media, Cowan could not escape an inconvenient truth.

"There was the second innings in Perth [56], although, it was in a losing Test,'' he said. ''Another 50 in the [Hobart] Test against Sri Lanka - all of a sudden in four of the last five Tests I'd played I had scored 50, but when the public sentiment is 'he's a battler', 'he's not good enough' or whatever it may be, you just deal with it. You just have to score runs, keep your place in the team and forget about the rest."