Cowan: Exciting times ahead

  • Last Updated: January 1 2013, 12:19 GMT

Australian cricket may be shaping up for a new era, but the players who are part of it are looking forward instead of back.

Mike Hussey: Set to play in his last game
Mike Hussey: Set to play in his last game

With Ricky Ponting, regarded as one of the best of all time, retiring at the end of last year, and the granite-like Mike Hussey bowing out after the forthcoming third Test with Sri Lanka, change is inevitable for the Baggy Green.

The duo are not the first to step down, though, with the Australian team having got used to losing key players over recent years.

And according to opener Ed Cowan, hardly a veteran despite his 30 years, those left in the camp have lots ahead regardless of current events.

"You can say what a hole it (Hussey's departure) leaves, that's pretty obvious," he said.

"He is a phenomenal player, he's still playing as well as he ever has, so sure it's going to leave a hole.

"But the other side is that it's opportunity.

"It's an opportunity for this team to move forward how they want to - be shaped not by the past, but have a real crack with a new group, shaping a new Australian cricket team.

"That's exciting. That has to be exciting - if we don't think it's exciting then we've got an issue."

In fact, once Hussey has gone, only all-rounder Shane Watson and captain Michael Clarke will remain as truly established names for Australia, who have an unassailable 2-0 lead heading into the final Test.

Clarke has shone since taking over from Ponting - his batting is better than ever - and much will rest on him heading into back-to-back Ashes series.

Cowan, though, wants to see things shared around.

"I think in the Australian cricket team it's important to have multiple leaders and not just guys who are captaincy material," he said.

"It's important we've seen people like Ponting and Hussey and those kind of guys set standards around training, around how the team behaves on and off the field.

"You need some guys to step up into those responsibilities, so it's nice to be mentioned but I don't think that changes anything about how I try and contribute to the group."

Hussey will call time after the Sydney Test which starts on Wednesday and Cowan wants to send his team-mate off in style.

"We have spoken at some length about our determination to make sure we win this series 3-0," he said.

"We experienced some disappointment earlier in the season and this is us, I guess, trying to vent that a little bit and we're pretty keen to see Mike off with flying colours."

Clarke came through a fitness test this morning, which is bad news for a Sri Lanka side who have been well off the pace on tour.

While the Test is the traditional 'pink' match in honour of the former wife of retired quick Glenn McGrath, the life of Tony Greig, the former England captain, will also be remembered.

"Tony Greig in Sri Lanka will be very fondly remembered for embracing Sri Lankan players and the Sri Lankan people from 1995 onwards, and getting behind us and promoting us positively across the world," said batsman Kumar Sangakkara, who misses the match and subsequent one-day series following an injury in the Boxing Day Test.

"He's been a very good friend of the Sri Lankan cricket team. He has been a great non-Sri Lankan ambassador. Everyone in Sri Lanka feels sad."

Sangakkara's absence leaves the tourists in even more disarray.

Chanaka Welagedara is missing with a hamstring problem, while Prasanna Jayawardene (thumb) and Nuwan Kulasekara (rib) are facing tests.

Lahiru Thirimanne has joined the squad and Suranga Lakmal is on his way for what will be Mahela Jayawardene's last match as captain.

Angelo Mathews will take over an ailing side, with opener Thilan Samaraweera saying of the switch: "This is the right time for Mahela to step down.

"We have to move on for the future.

"It gives Angelo a chance to captain while three or four senior players are still playing and will help with the pressure.

"We will do 100 per cent (to win) for Mahela."

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