Michael Carberry is hoping he can relight his Test career during this winter’s Ashes.
If he does, after top-scoring for England on day two of their run-fest tour match against a Western Australia Chairman's XI, the metaphor will be appropriate for a cricketer who spent last winter not out in the middle with his pads on, but instead on the shop floor as a newly-qualified electrician.
Twelve months on, the 33-year-old has swapped the dark mornings and early lighting-up times of home for the clear blue skies of Australia. And deputising for injured captain Alastair Cook at the top of the order at the WACA, he became the seventh of nine batsmen to pass 50.
Carberry shared a century first-wicket stand with Joe Root – the only player so far dismissed here under 50 – before Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott, with 77 and 64 not out respectively, consolidated to reach 270 for two in reply to 451 for five declared, on the middle day of a fixture surely destined to get England's tour under way with a draw.
The veteran opener has already banked more than 10,000 first-class runs in a career which has taken in three counties, most recently Hampshire, and was interrupted after his solitary Test to date when three years ago he suffered a blood clot on his lung.
Carberry subsequently undertook his electrician's apprenticeship, successfully completing a scheduled two-year course in only six months.
“I've had to put the electrical work back on hold. But I'm sure my foreman is more than happy I'm here for the Ashes,” Carberry said. "Working as an electrician gives you a full appreciation of playing cricket.”
Carberry survived a loud appeal for caught-behind before he had scored but otherwise appeared in control throughout his 100-ball stay.
He said: “At the start of any innings you’re obviously a little bit nervous, looking for that first run to get off the mark.
“But after that I’ve figured ‘Look, I’m here, I’m a good player – it’s been recognised by the management; it’s just down to me now to go out and show that’.
“I hope I showed a few glimpses of that today ... and have done enough in this game to play [in the next fixture against Australia A] in Hobart.”
That is open to debate, with Cook hoping to be back by next week, although Carberry insists he is a contender to bat at number six for this high-profile winter.
After getting set, and with a hundred there for the taking, he might have further pressed his claims but instead cut straight to point to give off-spinner Ashton Turner a maiden first-class wicket.
“It was a bit of a bummer getting out that way but these things happen,” he said.
Asked if he can adapt to batting in the middle order, however, Carberry made it clear that is very much a viable route.
He said: “I’d like to think so. Across my career, I’ve played in quite a few strong batting line-ups and, as a young pro making my way in, I’ve had to slot in where there has been a space.
“I’ve made first-class hundreds batting at five and six earlier in my career, so I don’t see that being a hindrance.”
He has had enough ups and downs to know there is no use fretting about factors beyond his control.
“Nothing has been discussed yet, which is why I’m keeping it as a blank canvas in my own mind,” he said.
“I’m trying not to look too far ahead, or worry about selection at this stage, just do the right things ... and give myself the best chance to play [in the Tests]. As and when Test selection comes up, if I’ve done enough then it’s to be.”
Carberry admits he was pleasantly surprised to be named in England’s squad when it was announced in September.
He said: “I haven’t played Test cricket for three years, so there was a slight element of surprise but a nice one. All I can say is 'What a great opportunity for me'. It’s been a long three years to get back ... and a lot of hard work and graft has gone into it.”
He has learned other skills along the way to fall back on, but wants to be centre-stage first.
“I don't see myself as a ‘reserve’ anything. I’ve come out here with the mentality to play, and I think that’s the right mentality,” he said. “If it’s not to be, then good luck to the guys who do play. All I can do is try to knock on the door.”