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Harbhajan Singh makes first Essex start but Ed Cowan takes plaudits for Gloucestershire
6:43pm Wednesday 11th July 2012 in Essex Cricket Club
HARBHAJAN Singh made his Essex debut today but Ed Cowan celebrated the award of his Gloucestershire county cap with an unbeaten half-century as the home side made 147 for two on a rain-affected opening day of their County Championship match at Cheltenham.
The Australian Test batsman, who will make at most five appearances for the county before leaving to captain Australia A on their tour of England, was presented with his cap before the start of play.
Cowan then hit 51 not out, sharing a second-wicket stand of 109 with Dan Housego, who made a more fluent 60.
Reece Topley was the only successful Essex bowler with two for 37 from 14 overs, as Singh’s six overs cost 15 runs.
After rain had delayed the start until 1pm Gloucestershire won the toss and elected to bat first under what were then comparatively clear skies.
They progressed with some alarms from a succession of loud Essex appeals until one was answered in the affirmative with the total on 23, Benny Howell being judged lbw for 18, trying to force Topley through the leg side.
David Masters was his customary model of accuracy and conceded only seven runs from his first seven-over spell from the Chapel End.
Cowan struggled to find his timing and took 57 balls to reach double figures, with the help of an edged four to third-man off Masters.
Housego looked more comfortable and at 63 for one Essex introduced Harbhajan Singh for his first bowl since joining them.
The Indian spinner was welcomed to the game by Housego, who advanced down the pitch to deposit his third delivery over mid-wicket for six.
Cowan finally got into his stride and matched Housego’s maximum with a perfectly timed pull over deep square off Graham Napier.
At tea it was 89 for one with Housego on 39 and Cowan 27. Housego reached his half-century soon after the interval, having faced 90 balls and hit four fours and a six.
But with the total on 131 Topley pierced Housego’s defence with a full length ball and bowled him. The young left-arm seamer had given little away and his 14 overs featured four maidens.
Cowan eventually got to 50 off 143 balls, with 7 fours and a six. While it would not rank among his best innings, it was a very important one for his newly-adopted county.
Shortly after Cowan reached his half-century bad light stopped play and the heavens then opened to ensure no more was possible.