Anyone who has read Ed Cowan's diary of a domestic cricket season will know that he doesn't shy away from his mistakes.

''I played an absolutely horrendous shot,'' he writes at one point of In the Firing Line. ''A disgracefully undisciplined cover drive to a wide ball.''

It's likely, then, that Cowan will spend the next few days wondering whether the windy drives he played in both innings of the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge might have ended his Test career.

It wasn't so much that Cowan failed in both innings that placed his place for the next Test at Lord's in peril, although a golden duck and 14 won't help his cause.

More damaging was the fact that these were not the shots of a man in the team to soak up pressure for long periods of time. On the day that England's frontline bowlers - Stuart Broad, Steve Finn, Jimmy Anderson and Graeme Swann - all clicked at once, Cowan found a way to present part-time off-spinner Joe Root with his first Test wicket.

''Ed knows the way he plays best,'' said captain Michael Clarke. ''That's the way the game goes. He's playing against spin, he's backing himself, he's playing with good intent.

''Obviously if that shot goes through cover we stand and clap, but if it doesn't, he nicks it and gets caught in slip and we ask those questions.''

Cowan has had more to contend with than England's bowlers in this match, including waves of nausea that kept him off the field for much of the game and the challenge of adjusting to a new place in the order at No.3.

But with one half-century from six innings on the tour and Usman Khawaja waiting in the wings, his spot for the next Test is vulnerable.

Cowan won his place in the Test team for Boxing Day 2011 through weight of runs.

But in 18 Tests he averages 31.28 with one century, a high-class innings scored against South Africa's world-beating pace attack in Brisbane.

He brought much-needed patience to the top of the order and has been a good team man at a time of dressing-room dysfunction.