What I drink when: Eddie Cowan

Eddie Cowan has a plane to catch. The 29-year-old, who made his Test debut last year against India, is about to fly to the Caribbean for his first international tour as an Australian cricketer.

The excitement shows through his understated disposition. ''You can see why people don't want to give it up,'' he says. ''Even the old guys, you can see the excitement in their eyes when we win a Test.''

Given his destination, it is appropriate he chooses to drink Mount Gay rum with cola and lime. The rum has been distilled on the western coast of Barbados for more than three centuries.

Or, more accurately, he chooses to sit next to the drink. The alcohol is for illustration only. He refuses to take a sip - in the evening, he has the final net session before the trip.

Cowan agrees cricket has become a lot more professional since the days when Doug Walters downed a six-pack of Heineken for breakfast on the morning of a Test match. ''I think it's changed because the volume of cricket is now such that there's no scope for getting smashed between games,'' he says. ''There's never really a break.''

Modern cricketers aren't angels, Cowan says, just more discreet than their counterparts in other sports. ''The beautiful thing about cricket is the change-room drinking culture,'' he says. ''Not like in rugby league or AFL [when] after the game you get smashed in public.''

Cowan must balance a sportsman's public diplomacy with honesty in his career as a writer. He is a columnist for the website espncricinfo.com and last year published a book about his year as a state cricketer, In The Firing Line: Diary of a Season.

Most sporting professionals speak in predictable bromides and their public statements are so carefully media-managed as to be shorn of meaning. In The Firing Line is striking for its honesty. Cowan writes openly about his disappointment when Shaun Marsh was selected ahead of him for the Australia A squad, despite the fact that Marsh had scored fewer runs.

Where a lot of Australian players broke into the national squad early in their careers, Cowan got there the old-fashioned way: he bided his time and scored runs. The experience gave him time to develop other areas of his life. He has a degree in finance and for a time balanced cricket with a punishing career as an investment banker.

''It's like being an off-Broadway actor,'' he says. ''I wanted [the book] to include my emotions. I wanted to be honest. I need to document how I felt. That wasn't going to get cut out.''

Cowan wrote his manuscript in longhand after each day's play. He took inspiration from British cricketing writer Ed Smith as well as local journalists Gideon Haigh and the late Peter Roebuck. Roebuck began his career as a writer with a diary of his year playing county cricket for Somerset. He coached Cowan as a junior and remained an influence until his death.

''We became really close,'' Cowan says. ''It's been hard to hear a lot of insinuations surrounding his death.

''Anyone that knew Peter knew his cricket coaching extended to life … He had bigger issues to deal with than your cover drive. He was a big educator of mine.''

This article What I drink when: Eddie Cowan was originally published in The Sydney Morning Herald.