On Monday afternoon Ed Cowan became just the third Sydney University Cricket Club (SUCC) product to score a test century, as he and his captain Michael Clarke powered Australia to a strong position at stumps on day four at the Gabba.
Just 24 hours earlier the left handed opener watched as David Warner, Rob Quiney and Ricky Ponting were all sent packing back to the pavilion in quick succession as Australia slumped to 3/40 in response to South Africa’s imposing total of 450.
Showing the type of resolve and positivity that he was known for during his 12 seasons at the SUCC (in 1997 a 15 year old Cowan was the club’s first Green Shield Under 16 captain), Cowan and Clarke fought back against a world class Proteas attack of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander to be 3/111 at the end of day 3. Cowan even had some deserved luck as Morkel was no-balled as he was caught down the leg-side in the penultimate over of the day.
Cowan resumed just one short of his fifty as day 4 got under way, but it became clear that the University of Sydney Economics and Laws graduate and former Sydney University Sport scholarship holder (now known as a Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness Elite Athlete Program scholarship holder) only had thing on his mind – three figures.
Cowan resumed his innings after lunch in Brisbane with his score on 98, and it didn’t take long for him to reach his first test century as he pulled a short ball from Philander to the mid-wicket fence for four.
By the time he was lucklessly run out for 136 (off 257 balls), Cowan had steered his country out of trouble with the score just one run short of 300 and certainly dispelled many of his critics.
“I’m just thrilled to prove a few people wrong and hopefully go another step to cementing a spot at the top of the order,” Cowan told Channel 9.
Australia will resume the test match today on day 5 in total control at 4/487.
Cowan scored 7476 runs for SUCC (including 6106 in First Grade) at a healthy average of a tad over 60, and he jointly holds the First Grade highest individual score of 253 (versus Manly in 2006-07) with another Sydney University Test player, J.M. Taylor (versus Waverley 1923-24).
Finding it difficult to nail down a permanent spot in the strong NSW side, Cowan moved to Tasmania after the 2008-09 season and it brought immediate results. He played every Sheffield Shield match in his first season with the Tigers and scored 957 runs – including a career-best 225 – at 53.16, placing him second on the competition tally. And he backed that up during the 2010 off-season with a century for Australia A against Sri Lanka A.
The runs continued to flow last season and just under 11 months ago Cowan became the 24th SUCC representative to play test cricket when he was presented with a baggy green and selected to open the batting against India in the 2011 Boxing Day Test.
After scoring three test fifties in his first seven test matches, Cowan yesterday joined Johnnie Taylor (one century) and John Dyson (two centuries) as the only SUCC representatives to score test centuries for Australia. Greg Matthews also scored four centuries before representing the club.