Carberry seeks England opening

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Michael Carberry

"It’s been a long hard slog to get here," said Michael Carberry, who appears on the verge of a Test debut in Bangladesh

Michael Carberry believes an England debut in Bangladesh would be the culmination of one long journey and hopes it will mark the beginning of another.

The left-handed Hampshire opener could make his senior international bow in the two-Test series next month, in place of rested captain Andrew Strauss.

Carberry would likely partner stand-in skipper Alastair Cook at the top of the order. However, the 29-year-old’s route there is in stark contrast to Cook, who was rushed into the Test side aged 22.

Carberry’s career began at Surrey, but a lack of first-team opportunities in a side packed with international stars saw him move to Kent in early 2003.

Although he made his mark in the limited-overs game, Carberry could not pin down a place in the championship team and joined Hampshire at the end of the 2005 season.

There he gained the first-class action he craved, and his run-scoring eventually forced him into Test contention when late last year he was summoned from the England Performance Programme as cover for Paul Collingwood.

Collingwood recovered from a dislocated index finger to play in the final two Tests against South Africa, but Carberry was next in line when Strauss was given time to recharge his batteries.

“It’s my first senior tour and the opportunity is there to make my debut as well,” enthused Carberry, who will play limited-overs games for England Lions in the United Arab Emirates before travelling to Bangladesh where a Test debut could await.

“I’m looking forward to it. It’s been a long hard slog to get here. I’m very excited and looking to put my best foot forward if and when the time comes.”

Carberry, who featured for England Under-19s in 1999 and 2000, made his first-class debut in 2001, a couple of years after deciding to pursue a career with Surrey.

Although frustrating times at the Oval and with Kent followed, that original decision has now been firmly vindicated.

“It’s obviously an exciting time,” he told ecb.co.uk. “For 12 years this is what I’ve been working towards.

Michael Carberry

Carberry's heavy run-scoring for Hampshire last season forced him into England's Test reckoning

“I've done all the hard work, the training, the moving clubs. This is what it is all geared towards really, being able to represent my country at the highest level of the game.

“If and when the call comes, it will be a very, very proud moment for me and my family, my friends and people who have been there on the journey with me.”

Carberry’s decision to join Shane Warne’s Hampshire soon paid dividends when he was chosen for England A’s tour of Bangladesh in early 2007.

He only made one appearance, but took his chance with a second-innings hundred against Bangladesh Cricket Board Academy.

“I know what to expect,” said Carberry, who enjoyed a prolific England A tour of India a year later. “The wickets are pretty low and slow. You have to be a very good player of spin out there as well.

“Having a couple of trips to India and Bangladesh with the Lions in previous years would have helped my game against spin. I’m looking forward to the challenge really.

“Bangladesh will be formidable in their own conditions. They won’t be pushovers. They gave India a pretty good run in the Test series they’ve just played recently.

“I’m looking forward to it. Like I said, it’s been a long time. I’ve been working towards this since I took up professional cricket. I’m just looking forward to finally getting going."

Part of Carberry’s appeal to England’s selectors is his prowess in the field, where he promises to make the tourists an even more athletic outfit.

Now that ace-fielder Collingwood is often required to stand at slip for both seamers and spinners in Tests, the right-handed Carberry could become a fearsome presence in the ring.

“That’s the nature of cricket now. You have to be two-dimensional, Carberry added. “You’re not going survive in first-class cricket now if you are a poor fielder.

Michael Carberry

Impressive performances over several years for England A and latterly England Lions have boosted Carberry's cause

“I see it as something I work equally as hard on as my batting really and I think it’s important, especially at international level where you’ve got to hold your chances really.

“I’ve noticed in the limited experience I’ve had in the England set-up so far, we talk a lot about taking the half-chances as well. That’s what’s required sometimes at the highest level.

“Players are that good that you have to hold onto the screamers sometimes. I’ve been blessed with the skills to be a good fielder. It’s something I don’t take for granted.

“I make sure I work pretty hard in training to make sure my skills are up there. It’s about going there totally 100% prepared.

“It’s no different to walking out there for Hampshire. I’ll train equally as hard to make sure I’m fully prepared for going out there.”

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