Notts boss banking on new boy Cowan
MICK Newell is hoping new overseas recruit Ed Cowan can warm up for the Ashes series by forming a formidable opening partnership with Alex Hales at the top of the Nottinghamshire order.
The Australian Test ace will be with Notts for the opening of the LV= County Championship campaign until he joins up with his international team-mates in June as they look to regain the famous urn.
The 30-year-old left-hander has played 13 Tests at an average of 32.81 and Newell is confident he can help Notts to build up big early totals in innings as they look to claim a third first-class crown under his stewardship, having won the County Championship in 2005 and 2010.
Newell said: "Ed Cowan is a very talented opening batsman and to have him here is great for us.
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"I will be looking for him and Alex Hales to develop a partnership that gives us some stability at the top of the order.
"I am confident the middle order can score the runs, as we have seen with the likes of Chris Read and Paul Franks in the past, but hopefully this partnership will see us make more runs at the top of the order and give ourselves a better chance in matches.
"He is an international opening batsman and I believe he can work really well with Alex.
"It is never easy, especially here at Trent Bridge in early season. But I believe he has the technique to cope with the demands put upon him."
Many of the Notts squad will head out to South Africa on a bowling and fitness camp this month and then, in March, they will spend 11 days in Barbados fine-tuning for the 2013 season.
"Hopefully the whole squad will be going to Barbados and we went there last year, so we know the facilities are good and you are guaranteed the good weather," said Newell.
"We will also get to play against a few other English counties and then when we get back, we will have time to fit a few more matches in and get used to the English climate again ahead of the season.
"Pre-season is a big part of what we do and provides a chance for players to stake their claim. Players like Sam Wood came in at the end of last season and could get more opportunities, especially if Samit Patel remains with the England one-day squad. He is a batsman who bowls spin.
"Jake Ball will be looking to get more involved during the one-day games and also the four-day matches.
So for the players on the fringes at the club, they have to take their chance when it comes."