In internet parlance, a Cowan is when a batter faces 100 balls in a Test match innings for not many runs. Perhaps a dated reference, and far from the best source, but it is a reference nonetheless. Of course, that lead sentence is too precise; Cowan faced exactly 100 balls in a Test innings only once in his career. That innings was certainly an important contribution in a tricky fourth-innings run chase, but it wasn’t one of the great Test innings. Instead, it was one of the innings in a great Test.
It was a different story when Cowan faced 157 more balls than he did in Bridgetown in his first Test innings of the following home summer against South Africa at the Gabba in 2012. That innings was his only Test century. The pitch was an absolute road, but he played that innings against the best attack in the world and was able to ride the wave that attack were riding that had threatened to drown Australia when they were 3-40 on the third night.
Even Ian Chappell praised that knock as he was watching it. Perhaps not that big of a deal, because Chappell has demonstrated a consistent ability to keep two thoughts in his head when it comes to commentary – to praise what he is seeing on the ground when it is in order while not allowing a single innings to completely change his view of a player – but still impressive.
Virat Kohli has never faced exactly 100 balls in a Test innings. He’s always faced at least two more, or one less. But, with his first innings at Perth, he has now faced exactly 257 in a Test innings – no more, no less.
The beauty of Ed Cowan is that he serves as a reminder of how hard it is to score one Test ton. The beauty of Virat Kohli is that he is one of the few who play the game of cricket who can achieve even more. He has now faced 257 balls or more in a Test innings on nine occasions.