England give Carberry backing
England will stick with Michael Carberry as opener for the remainder of the NatWest series despite poor returns from his first three ODIs.
Carberry has scored only 15 runs in three innings in a disappointing start to his one-day international career, following a superb season for Hampshire. But, in the absence of regular openers, Alastair Cook and Ian Bell, he will have at least two more chances to stake his claim for a long-term spot at the top of the order.
Having made 10 on debut against Ireland in Dublin, Carberry played a poor stroke to fall for just 4 against Australia at Old Trafford before being run out for 1 in the rain-ruined third ODI at Edgbaston.
"He's had a bit of a hard time of it to be honest." England's stand-in captain, Eoin Morgan, said. "But he's experienced enough to know that it's swings and roundabouts. We've 100 percent backing for 'Carbs' at the moment, because we've seen how hard he works and the success he's had.
"We'd like to see that over the next two games. But if not he's always got his basics to fall back on - and go again."
If Carberry's dismissal in Manchester was careless - slapping a well-timed cut stroke straight to Michael Clarke at backward point - there was an element of misfortune in his departure at Edgbaston, when he was run out in a mix-up with Kevin Pietersen.
Morgan said it was the last thing Carberry needed. "I don't think it's anybody's fault," he said. "There's always miscommunication in a run-out, and I think we can leave it up to those two to sort things out. They're fine. They've known each for years and played at Hampshire together."
Carberry has returned to international cricket three years after his Test debut in Chittagong but has so far displayed none of the form that earned him a recall. Carberry enjoyed an outstanding domestic season in limited-overs cricket, with 502 Friends Life t20 runs at 55.77 and 471 at 47.10 in the Yorkshire Bank 40.
"He's fine," Morgan said. "Obviously he'd have liked to get runs. He's quite anxious to get stuck in, and prove the type of player he is. But you're going to be disappointed with a couple of low scores."
Carberry is part of an experimental England squad selected with a view to developing younger players for the 2015 World Cup, as well as rest members of the Test set-up. The squad has come under criticism for short-changing supporters, criticism which gained credence after England were totally outplayed in an 88-run defeat in the second ODI - so far the only fixture to be completed. Nevertheless, Morgan insists winning the five-match series is England's priority.
"Obviously, it's a good opportunity to blood young players, but we're out to win," he said. "For us, it's now a semi-final and final - that's the way we're going to treat it. We need to come out and up our game and our intensity.
"There's not a lot of motivation the guys need. We haven't played very much cricket, and the guys are keen to get on the park and do well. There is a lot of energy flowing around."
England appeared to be a bowler light in both Dublin, where they conceded 269, and Manchester, where Australia racked up 315 on what was considered a sluggish wicket. But given the lack of cricket so far in the NatWest series, England may well stick with their formula for the fourth ODI in Cardiff on Saturday.
Morgan was satisfied with his side for Edgbaston, despite defeat three days before. "We felt it was our best XI. We picked it in the last game and we didn't think there was anything drastic that needed changing. So we stuck with it. If we feel that a change needs to be made, either on conditions or performance, we'll make it."
Of the changes England could make, only Luke Wright offers any experience. He could replace one of the batsmen but that appears unlikely, with England having completed only one innings so far in the series.
A change to the bowling attack would see debuts for either Jamie Overton of Somerset or Sussex's Chris Jordan.
"Jamie is 19 years old, and has spent quite a lot of time around the group now over the last week or so. That's hugely beneficial," Morgan said. "I wish I'd had that opportunity when I was 19. He has bowled well in the nets. 'Jords' in particular - with his all-round skills - has surprised me massively. He's a very athletic guy."
Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo