Australia news December 13, 2011

Cowan subbed into Chairman's XI for ailing Marsh

Ed Cowan, the Tasmania opening batsman, is edging closer to Test selection following his transfer from the first to the second of two tour matches against the Indian touring side in Canberra in order to cover for the ailing Shaun Marsh.

The change has been made partly to accommodate the wishes of the Sydney Sixers, Cowan's Twenty20 Big Bash League team. But it is also to replace Marsh, who has been ruled out of the Cricket Australia Chairman's XI because his problematic back, which flared during the first Test against South Africa in Cape Town last month, is still not up to the rigours of batting.

Originally, Cowan had been selected as captain of the team for the first tour match, a two-day affair starting on Thursday. However he will now play for the Sixers in their competition opener against the Brisbane Heat at the SCG on Friday, before going on to Canberra for the three-day fixture against the Indians from Monday, December 19.

Ryan Broad, the Queensland opening batsman, has replaced Cowan in the squad for the first tour match and will captain the side, which is composed of players uninvolved in the BBL.

Cowan, 29, has made centuries in three of his past five first-class innings for Tasmania and Australia A.

Marsh's difficulties give Cowan a chance of consideration for a debut, given that changes will be made to the team that lost by seven runs to New Zealand. Shane Watson is likely to return to the squad as a batsman if not an allrounder, and the national selectors must deliberate on numerous players who failed to make a strong enough case in Hobart.

Pat Howard, CA's team performance manager, said the compromise between the Sixers and the tour match had been agreed after an update on Marsh's faltering fitness.

"Our long term planning for the Boxing Day Test had been based around the principle that all fit players would be available for round one T20 Big Bash League games and then their focus will turn towards their individual preparation plans for the first Test against India," Howard said.

"While we are hopeful, Shaun's chances of recovering sufficiently in order to be considered for the first Test against India are considered unlikely at this stage."

One other forced change has been made to the team for the first tour match, with the SA seam bowler Joe Mennie withdrawn due to a hip complaint. His place has been taken by the Queensland legspinner Cameron Boyce.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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