Warne was my saviour - Carberry
Shane Warne's recognition of a young Michael Carberry's talents at Hampshire was the making of him as a first-class batsman. Now Warne's endorsement at the start of the Ashes tour seems to have helped blow the winds of cricketing fortune in Carberry's direction as he emerges as the apparent answer to the dual England batting problems of the last series against Australia.
Amid countless quotable lines about Ricky Ponting, Alastair Cook and George Bailey, among others, Warne had posited the view that Carberry stood a far better chance of ensuring solid openings for England's batting on the tour than the younger right-hander Joe Root. While Warne's emotive use of "crucifying" to outline the risk of keeping Root at the top grabbed most of the initial attention, his supportive words about Carberry seem to have mirrored the thinking of the team director Andy Flower.
Retained to open alongside Cook in Hobart while Root was shuffled down to No. 5, Carberry set about his task grandly, and by the close of play had all but guaranteed his Brisbane berth by batting all day in the company of his captain. This allows Root to avoid the perils of the new ball and also bolster a middle order that stumbled at times in the earlier Ashes meeting.
Carberry credits Warne with giving him the early impetus to find himself as a county batsman after frustrating stints at Kent and Surrey. "Shane Warne is basically the reason why I got a chance to play Test cricket," he said. "I was a young guy who was a little bit lost in county cricket, didn't really get an opportunity. I came to Hampshire and from day one he made me feel very much at home. He gave me the backing I think any young player needs and allowed me to play a brand of cricket I wanted to play.
"He was very influential in me doing what I've done and getting the chance to play for England a few years on. The times I've caught up with him, he has always had very kind things to say about my game, I still keep in contact with him, even though he might be overseas. He's always been a great friend to me."
That friendship helped Carberry through a career not lacking in difficulty, most notably when a blood clot on the lung ruled him out of the game for an extended period in 2010, soon after he had made his Test debut alongside Cook in Bangladesh. The ailment not only kept Carberry out of contention for the 2010-11 Ashes tour but threatened his entire career. He emerged from it stronger, wiser and with a balanced outlook.
"It's been well documented that I have had some tough times off the field, but by the grace of God I'm here to enjoy what I'm doing now," he said. "When things like that happen it gives you perspective on your cricket, maybe to relax more and try to enjoy the game for what it is, rather than as young players perhaps putting pressure on yourself to try and get where you want to get to. If you do the processes right you'll get there.
"I came here with pretty much a blank canvas. I try to be flexible, to do whatever job is put in front of me for the team. If it's to be opening great, if it's to bat down the order even better. Nothing much was explained to me, I was just told 'Carbs you're going in with Cooky' and that was good enough for me. I set my mind as any opener does to see off the new ball, which was going to be the biggest threat on that wicket, and then try to bat through the day."
Aiding Carberry this day was an indifferent display by Australia A's bowlers, who tended to drop too short especially with the new ball. The wicketkeeper Tim Paine admitted as much after play, pointing out that a better attack might have been able to test Carberry more fully in the gully region, where he offered numerous edges as it was.
"We thought we were probably half a sniff around that gully region if we bowled the right length to him," Paine said. "We just couldn't get one to go to hand today, but he's obviously a class player. He is opening the batting for England and they're a very good side. If he does play in the Ashes he'll be hard to get out, but there is an area there definitely: if you stack up your gully region I think at some point you'll get a chance."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here