Head down: Ed Cowan ponders a poor shot. Photo: Getty Images
ED COWAN, one half of Test cricket's most prolific opening pair this year, admits his eagerness to make a statement against Sri Lanka in the series opener led to his downfall, but he will not make the same mistake again in Melbourne.
Cowan remains committed to putting the pressure on the visitors' quicks, but has acknowledged he erred with the pull shot in the first innings of the first Test, leading to an ugly dismissal.
Former Test spinner Kerry O'Keeffe said on the ABC that he felt Cowan had been trying too hard to dominate Sri Lanka's inexperienced pace attack, and the adopted Tasmanian agreed
''Kerry's a fantastic observer of the game and he was probably on the money,'' Cowan said on Sunday as he prepares for a return to the MCG - the scene of his Test debut a year ago.
''It was more first innings of a new series, having never played against the team, trying to impose myself on the game. If it goes for four everyone says 'great shot' and away we go. I've learnt my lesson.
''Having never played against the Sri Lankans, I was maybe over-anxious to impose myself.''
But Cowan said he would not shelve the pull shot, as it was part of his game. ''I made a mistake in Hobart, but I don't think that's going to be the first mistake I make. I think the pull shot is a shot that for me puts pressure back on the bowler,'' he said.
''There's no thought of putting it away, it's just a matter of knowing when to play it.''
Cowan greatly enhanced his reputation in Australia's series loss to world No.1 South Africa, but does not consider himself a certainty to make the cut for next year's Ashes.
Strike-rates remain a touchy subject with Cowan, who bristled when asked how he felt on the occasions he played second fiddle to his opening partner, David Warner.
''You guys have got it all wrong. Cricket isn't about how many runs I get or how many he gets,'' he said. ''I know if I don't get runs you want to fire a few bullets, or if he doesn't get runs you fire bullets, it's about partnerships.
''If he's 60 and I'm five, we've had a 65-run partnership [and] we're doing a fantastic job. It's not relative as to how many's Ed, how many's Dave, it doesn't really matter. That question annoys me a little bit.''
Cowan wrote in his book, released last year, that he was told by a former selector he scored too slowly to push for Test selection. There were long periods in his 56 in the second innings in Hobart where he matched the free-wheeling David Warner.
''I think I play my best when I'm batting with intent,'' he said. ''I think it's important to try and put pressure on the bowlers regardless of whether you're a super attacking player or a guy who needs to get in before he plays his shots.''
Cowan and Warner need to add just 11 runs in Melbourne to pass legendary pair Bill Ponsford and Bill Woodfull on the table of Australia's most successful opening combinations.
Their average of 46.52 across 17 innings and 10 matches comfortably exceeds that of South Africa's Graeme Smith and Alviro Petersen. Ominously, England's new duo of Alastair Cook and Nick Compton, with 70.42, boast the highest average for pairs with a minimum of eight innings.
While some, such as former Australian Test captain Ian Chappell, believe Shane Watson or Phillip Hughes would make a better opening partner for Warner, Cowan said the incumbent duo had plenty of improvement to come.
''I think we're getting the hang of it,'' he said. ''It takes a while to get to know each other's cues - that general relationship that is needed to open the batting.
''The coach said the other day we've been the most successful opening partnership in the world over the last 12 months. If you ask us how we think we're going, we probably say we're doing OK.
''It feels as though there's lots of upside there. If we both keep on improving the way we are, hopefully it can be a long-term thing.''