Australia A v England XI, Tour match, Hobart November 6, 2013

Helmet fits Carberry in big stand with Cook


England XI 0 for 318 (Cook 154*, Carberry 153*) v Australia A

Shiny, space-age in design and emblazoned with a racing stripe, Michael Carberry's batting helmet seems less appropriate headgear for an Ashes tour match than Olympic track cycling. There was something of the road race about day one in Hobart, however, as Carberry and his captain Alastair Cook tested out an alternative opening combination to impressive effect against Australia A on a pristine Bellerive Oval pitch.

His choice of headgear was the only jarring thing about Carberry, who otherwise looked entirely at ease alongside Cook and made a persuasive case for his inclusion at the top of the order in Brisbane. Joe Root, who had opened across the earlier Ashes encounter in England, was left to watch from the boundary's edge from his new post at No. 5, and must now be pondering a middle-order commission across the five Tests. By the close Carberry and Cook had pushed on to the highest opening stand ever seen at Bellerive.

Equally welcome for England alongside Carberry's appearance of certainty was Cook slipping comfortably into the prolific batting groove he occupied on the last tour in 2010-11. Helped by Australia A bowling that was often too short and too straight, he had little trouble scoring freely around the ground, and showed no signs of the back stiffness that had ruled him out of the opening tour fixture in Perth.

For the Australia A captain Moises Henriques and his somewhat uneven XI - far stronger in batting than bowling - it was a day of unrequited toil. Unable to take early wickets when the pitch offered the mildest hint of life, the hosts were sentenced to a day devoid of joy, coming closest to a wicket in the evening when a snick by Carberry from Ben Cutting on 135 landed short of Trent Copeland in the gully. They face further hard labour on the 'morrow.

Upon choosing to bat on a surface far less verdant than those prepared in Hobart this time last summer, Cook revealed that his opening partner would not be Root but Carberry. He had hinted as much on match eve, but it remained notable to glimpse Cook walking to the middle accompanied by the very same man Shane Warne had recommended as a better option at the top in Australia than Root.

There was some semblance of early life in the pitch, and neither Cook nor Carberry looked completely at ease in the early overs, nudging runs here and there while being beaten often by balls that zipped away from them. Most often these were bowled by Copeland, demonstrating the seam-up skill that made him a valued recruit for Northamptonshire earlier in the year. It was the jetlagged Henriques who made the first appeal of the morning, striking Cook on the pads in the vicinity of off stump but not finding any response to his shout.

Those early alarms safely negotiated, Cook and Carberry were able to settle in. Nothing could be found in the pitch for either of the spinners Jon Holland and Glenn Maxwell, while Cutting's line and length were not quite consistent enough to create the desired pressure. Cook reached his 50 just before lunch, and Carberry joined him soon after.

Closely watched by the team director Andy Flower and the batting coach Graham Gooch, Carberry played neatly enough, seeing off several periods of slow scoring without growing too frustrated. He snicked numerous deliveries going across him towards the slips when attempting come forward and drive, but was otherwise able to sit on the back foot in defence and attack, suggesting that Australia A's bowlers too often dropped short of the ideal zone.

Cook meanwhile offered his familiar mixture of sound judgment, efficient strokeplay and deep reserves of concentration, able to work the ball off his hip consistently to rotate strike and frustrate the local attack. Both batsmen enjoyed themselves against the spinners, Holland treated with particular brusqueness in his short spells and shielded for much of the day while Henriques hoped for the wicket that would bring a right-hander to the crease.

It was not to arrive, however. Cook was 97 at tea and reached his century shortly after the resumption, marking it with a low key celebration that recognised the innings as a sound building block for the tour to come but nothing more. Carberry was understandably more demonstrative when he crested three figures, rejoicing an innings that will go a long way towards earning him a place in the Test team for Brisbane.

Carberry's exuberance contrasted with the mounting fatigue of Australia A's bowlers on a surface offering very little help at all beyond the first half hour. Some of the fielding was also poor, the lack of energy or intensity on display unlikely to have impressed the selector Rod Marsh as he watched from the stands. The new ball brought hope of renewed life as the shadows lengthened, but when Cutting drew another edge from Carberry with a delivery of decent pace and zip, it fell tantalisingly short of Copeland.

England's openers were thus left to reach the close unparted and largely unhindered, setting down a very fine platform indeed for their likely pairing across the Ashes series. In doing so they also provided Australia's bowlers with a reminder that anything less than their best offerings may result in grim days to rival those of four summers ago. They may be seeing a lot more of the Carberry helmet.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Justin on November 7, 2013, 13:37 GMT

    So half the match down and still only 2 English players have had a practice. Should have dec on your tons lads.

  • W on November 7, 2013, 6:15 GMT

    @Mitty2, yes of course, the other front foot people just adore the lunge, love the constant comments about England's superiority and how the Aussies are responsible for global warming..... Yeah Root probably will play at 6 but let's see if he makes a run. He's obviously very talented but hasn't shown his skills against quality bowling yet. The rain here does make me wonder why they batted all day yesterday? Anyway like I said, Flower knows his business so I'm sure all the Rngland guys will be peaking in time for the Gabba. Can't wait now!

  • Hamish on November 7, 2013, 0:55 GMT

    @FFSL, I thought you enjoyed the comms from you repetitive counterpart?

  • Dummy4 on November 7, 2013, 0:39 GMT

    This bowling just lacked the consistency on a docile pitch at Hobart.... however, Cook and his partner Cranberry would have pleasurable memories on this tour after waltzing their way to centuries.....

  • James on November 7, 2013, 0:11 GMT

    Well CA did put the word out to create more batsman-friendly tracks, and it seems some curators have taken it to heart. I think you'll find the first hour will be a bit tricky today, and it won't be as easy all up as it was on day 1, with the change in weather. The high pressure system has moved on, and things should get more interesting.

  • Dean on November 6, 2013, 21:54 GMT

    @Front Foot Sponge, I disagree with you, IMO Root is nailed on to play. Eng selectors are very loyal to their players nowadays (Compton excluded). With an Ave of over 40, & 2 test 100s there's no reason to suggest Root's position is under threat. I think the only real question is does he open or bat at 6. I think 9 places were nailed down before the tour started. Carberry looks to have taken one of them, if Ballance gets runs tomorrow then it may give the selectors something to think about but I can't see a starting XI in Brisbane featuring Carberry & Ballance, unless theres an injury, & I think it's fair to say Bairstow is out of the running. That only leaves the 3rd seamer spot up for debate. Finn has probably got his nose in front but they are giving Tremlett every chance by playing him here & Rankin will i'm sure get another chance in the final warm up game.

  • John on November 6, 2013, 21:43 GMT

    @AKS286 on (November 6, 2013, 18:45 GMT) But although SA played only one spinner in UAE , I'm pretty sure they play a spinner everywhere they go to cover their options - even with their pace battery

  • Nicholas on November 6, 2013, 19:54 GMT

    @Nicholas Mayo (post on November 6, 2013, 19:13 GMT): Root didn't start out as an opener but; - without even checking, I bet his stats opening aren't as good and more importantly consistent as when he was down in the middle.

    Tomorrow's play will be interesting. Will England give their rookies a good turn in the middle, and who and when...

    Further ahead, it's England's bowling which needs refining and this pitch and game ethos on the whole doesn't strike me as great for ensuring the correct bowlers get the nod for the actual tests.

  • John on November 6, 2013, 19:46 GMT

    @cric_J on (November 6, 2013, 16:33 GMT) Yeah , I touched on the Jimmy inclusion as it also means we don't get a further look at either of the other 2 lanks. I wonder if it signifies that they have little faith in bowling 2 of the 3 lanks together which is a worry and maybe a sign that they regret taking all 3? Is picking CT an indication of anything - I hope not?

  • paul on November 6, 2013, 19:31 GMT

    @maximum6 I don't want to seem like I'm bashing Carberry because I like the bloke, he's a good County player and nice guy. But I watched his innings last night and even though he got a good score, the bowling was average for the most part. But even against that, if the Aus Captain had have put a gully or two in, which anyone that's watched Carberry play, knows that where he hits in the air, he'd have been out 4 or 5 times. maybe a deliberate ploy. Carberry's age has got nothing to do with it for me. I worry about him walking out with Cook in the first test because firstly he's not as good as Root imo and secondly I believe his technique will get a royal working over. Bowlers like Harris and Siddle will bowl full and nibble it away from him, that's where his big back lift and the fact he doesn't play with a straight bat, could end in a disaster imo. We saw in the one day series that he could hardly put bat to ball off Johnson, which is a huge worry.

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