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Michael Carberry came to international cricket late and endured a tough induction but was able to draw on a well of experience to prove his ability
September 15, 2013
Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes, the two players who sealed England's victory in Cardiff, are very much from the modern breed of young cricketer; identified early, pulled into the academy system and undergoing much of their development at the top level. If all goes well, they have at least a decade of international cricket ahead of them.
Michael Carberry, meanwhile, who scored a crucial 63 in Cardiff, is keeping the flag flying for those who plug away on the domestic circuit hoping, one-day, to be given at a chance to display the value of those years of hard work. It is similar to the tale of Chris Rogers, which evolved during the Ashes series. Carberry earned a Test cap three years ago in Bangladesh but the opportunity for further international honours was seemingly slipping away until his stand-out white-ball form for Hampshire this year.
It is still difficult to tell what the future holds for Carberry's international career; he could yet tour Australia as the spare Ashes batsman, put pressure on the resting members of England's one-day top order and be part of the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh. On the other hand, this one-day series - which comes to a conclusion on Carberry's home ground at the Ageas Bowl - may be as far as he goes.
It all looked like it could unravel pretty quickly: he dropped catches and failed with the bat against Ireland, then was run out in the opening over against Australia at Edgbaston having also missed out at Old Trafford. Admittedly it was a harshly small sample size but, at the age of almost 33, time is not a player's side. If the ball that reared into Carberry's glove from Mitchell Johnson in Cardiff had carried to gully or slip, rather than lobbing between three fielders, his England ODI scores would have read 10, 4, 1 and 8.
An innings of 63 does not guarantee a longer run in the team - far from it, with Alastair Cook and Ian Bell to return - but it does mean that his appearance in front of the fans who have supported him for years comes with him having shown his true colours in a tough situation.
The pitch in Cardiff was helping quick bowlers throughout, there was pace and bounce, Johnson was closing in on 94mph and Clint McKay had taken a third-over hat-trick, which left Eoin Morgan joining Carberry with England 8 for 3. In that type of situation, Carberry was thankful to be able to draw on his experience.
|"There have been so many people at Hampshire who have supported my career. If I can get runs in front of my home crowd, and I hope we can win, it will be a nice way to pay them back"|
"Sometimes that is the beauty of having played a lot of first-class cricket," he said. "Yes, it's only your fourth one-day international, but you're not totally fazed by someone bowling very well. I was pleased I got myself in, still my first ODI series, and got a few runs in a winning cause.
"I still think it was half a job done, though. So I've something to work on to make sure, if I get in, I can be finishing it off next time."
The low scores to start the series had not fazed him, either, and his seasoned approach to dealing with the natural highs and lows of cricket - particularly those faced by opening batsmen - has been on show.
"I knew there was nothing much to worry about, in terms of how I was going," he said. "When you get three low scores early on, of course you're disappointed. But there is a difference between being disappointed and then carrying that disappointment round with you into the next game.
"I was determined not to do that, and I think what I've done well is stay positive. The management have been great, backing me all the way, and I'm pleased I've started to prove them right."
County cricket can only teach you so much, however, and there is precious little opportunity to face a bowlers consistently operating above 90mph on a surface offering him bounce to exploit. The way Carberry weathered Johnson's early spell - even though he was not always convincing - will have been noted by the selectors.
"That is the difference between playing county cricket day in, day out, and international cricket," he said. "The pace of the bowlers is just that little bit more. It probably does determine how you play, what shots you can try, when they're bowling that much quicker
"But the basic principles of batting remain the same - watching the ball - and shot selection becomes a little bit more key. When someone is slinging them down at 93 or 94mph, like Mitchell was, the longer you are there the more you get used to it."
Now, weather permitting, he will get the chance to open the innings in front of those who have cheered his mountain of one-day runs for Hampshire, having missed out on selection when the Twenty20 international was staged at the Ageas Bowl late last month.
"There have been so many people at Hampshire who have supported my career, and have always shouted my name in terms of playing for England. If I can get runs in front of my home crowd, and I hope we can win, it will be a nice way to pay them back."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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