Late-blooming Cowan enjoyed a promising start to his career as Australia’s Test opener with 68 on debut in the Boxing Day Test against India last summer.
But since then the 30-year-old has failed to register the big score needed to secure his position at the top of the order. In his seven Tests against India, at home, and West Indies, away, Cowan averaged 29.83.
Australia Test selectors have indicated they will stick with the opening combination of Cowan and David Warner for the forseeable future, with coach Mickey Arthur predicting a “baptism of fire” for the duo when the three-Test series starts at the Gabba on November 9.
Cowan recognises the battle with the world No.1 Proteas, with a pace attack boasting Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel, is the ideal chance to stamp his credentials and cement his spot in the team. He’s also aware the reverse applies if he’s not successful.
“If you are proving yourself against the South Africans at the moment, you are a high quality Test player,” Cowan said.
“And it also makes it pretty clear cut if you are scoring runs against them as opposed to Bangladesh or Zimbabwe when everyone is still asking questions, saying ‘oh he wouldn’t do it against the best team in the world’.
“Well here we are … the best team in the world, let’s see how good we are.”
Cowan admitted he’s struggled with the increased scrutiny of his cricket that came with his unexpected rise to the Australian side.
“When you are in the Australian cricket team you can expect scrutiny, and that scrutiny is a great deal more than you get in state cricket,” he said.
“No one is safe in the Australian cricket team, you have to be scoring runs to be consistently picked.
“So regardless of whether you are cemented or not, judgment comes on November 9 for this summer, and if you are scoring runs you stay in the team … it is a pretty simple remedy.”
The former NSW turned Tasmania batsman says his game has matured on the back of his efforts in a dominant Australian side last summer and in a low-scoring series in the West Indies on difficult batting tracks.
“The best judge of form is yourself and how many runs you are scoring and I have learned to accept that,” he said.
“I’m a bit older now and a bit more mentally mature and more willing to be myself and trust my instincts and my game and I think that can only be a good thing.”