Cowan poised for Ashes prep with Notts
Nottinghamshire are currently in talks to sign Australia batsman Ed Cowan as their overseas player for the start of the 2013 county season.
Cowan, Australia's Test opener, could be available for Notts' first seven Championship games, between tours to India and the start of the Ashes.
The signing might be viewed as a controversial one. Cowan, 30, is expected to be part of Australia's Ashes squad and will have the time to familiarise himself with English conditions ahead of the series. The first Test of the series is played at Nottinghamshire's home ground, Trent Bridge.
Cowan is no stranger to conditions in the UK. He has also had spells with Gloucestershire, scoring a century on first-class debut for them against Essex last season, Scotland (2008) and Oxford MCCU (2003), for whom he made his first-class debut. Gloucestershire were also keen for Cowan to return and are believed to have wanted him to captain the side.
Nottinghamshire struggled to find a reliable opening partnership in 2012, when they ended up finishing fifth despite setting the early pace in challenging eventual champions, Warwickshire. Their average first-wicket stand was just over 35 and Neil Edwards was released at the end of the season, after being replaced by Riki Wessels as Alex Hales' opening partner.
In the final Championship match of the season, England U-19 Sam Kelsall opened alongside Edwards, with Wessels batting at No. 3, as England call-ups and injuries stretched Notts' squad.
David Hussey, another Australia international, remains the likely candidate as Nottinghamshire's overseas player for the second half of next season, while former England bowler Ajmal Shahzad has already joined from Yorkshire.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo