Chennai: Board President's XI spinners led by Parveez Rasool wreaked havoc as they bowled out Australia for a meagre 241 in the warm-up match Tuesday, but Australia opener Ed Cowan feels the turning track has actually provided his team a good practice ahead of the upcoming Test series.
"It was fantastic that the wicket did turn. Because at the end of the day, we need to practice against the turning ball. It was almost as though the most dangerous shot was the forward defence. You had to find a way to get to the other end and get in a position to score runs," said Cowan after the first day's play of the two-day warm-up game here.
"If you're propped on the crease defending, then you're playing into the spinners' hands. I think the guys who scored runs found a way to actually hit the ball, rather than just defend. They were trying to put pressure on the bowlers. The guys would probably evaluate that their shots were on but the execution probably wasn't as pure as they'd have liked.
"Usman tried to sweep and unfortunately, it didn't come off for him. I played a few. You can't sweep every ball, it becomes predictable. You got to know the line and length. I played a couple, Matthew Wade played the sweep pretty well. The top three played the sweep. It's not a question of sweeping every ball, because then you could get into as much trouble as not sweeping the ball, I think," he explained.
Heaping praise on young Jammu and Kashmir all-rounder Parveez Rasool, who ended with figures of seven for 45, Cowan said, "He bowled with good control, got some good turn. Anyone who can take seven wickets can obviously bowl. He held it up nicely, he was excellent." Left-handed Cowan top-scored with 58 today but he did not think he sealed his spot as an opener in the Australian team.
"It didn't feel like I needed to seal the deal. The talk is in the press and not in the changing room. From a personal point of view, I've been playing first-class for a long time. So just to get back in the mindset of being able to bat for a long time and to get the rhythm of batting, it was important. "I was happy that I could not only spend time at the crease, but also have a positive time at the crease and get some runs at the end of the day," he said.
Asked to compare the conditions here with that of Down Under, Cowan said, "It was obviously very different. The big thing today was there was significant reverse swing early, in 12th or 13th over. As an opening batsman, that's something foreign, I guess. Then the slow turn increased through the day. It was good to spend some time in the middle." He added that reverse swing proved to be very good for the Aussies.
"Very good for us. Our guys know how to reverse the ball at good pace. The faster you ball, the harder the reverse swing is to play. I think that will play a part tomorrow. Cowan said that the visitors were happy to have spend the entire day today, getting some good batting practice. "At the end of the day, you can only bat for a 100 overs, 90 overs today. And we used up 86 or 87 of them. All the top three had more than 80 balls. Steve Smith had 100 balls.
That's a significant time in the middle. No one went on and got a big score, but that is probably the one issue. Everyone from 1 to 11 got to bat, and that's important I think."
Asked if Steven Smith has emerged as the front-runner for no. 4 spot in the Australian side, Cowan said, "I wouldn't say he is the front-runner, but he is a batsman back home. He bats at No. 4 for his first-class team. He's got a fantastic first-class record. The other guys are incredibly skilled batting allrounders who bowls fantastic medium-pace.
"And Maxwell is an offspinner, who bats particularly well. So Smith, that's where he bats for his state. He wasn't really promoted and I don't think you could say he's a front-runner. "I'm not a selector, so I don't know what the pecking order is at the moment. I think any time in the middle is a good time for anyone. Whether it is Smith or anyone else, the balance of the team will be a discussion for the captain and selectors leading in. Last Test, we didn't play an allrounder, we played four fast bowlers. So who know what the balance is?," he added.