Carberry comes of age
England hopeful Michael Carberry insists he is more than ready to play Test cricket - and he will have Shane Warne to thank if the call finally comes.
The left-handed opener is currently in South Africa with the England Performance Programme, and reminded the selectors of his worth with a fine hundred to set up victory over Gauteng Strikers in last week’s practice match.
Carberry saw Mark Davies, a fellow EPP squad member, promoted to the Test squad over the weekend due to injury concerns over James Anderson and Ryan Sidebottom, and remains hopeful of treading the same path.
“I’ve come away with one eye on the Test call-up,” Carberry told ecb.co.uk from the EPP’s training camp in Pretoria ahead of their final game of the tour against Nashua Titans starting tomorrow.
“That was my agenda: to score lots of runs and find my form, so if and when the chance comes I’m ready.
“I’ve been knocking on the England door for a little while. I’ve been ready for the last three years, but the chance hasn’t come around - that’s just the way it goes sometimes.”
Carberry has passed 1,000 County Championship runs in two of the three years to which he refers - this summer yielded 1,251 at an average of 69.5 - and he is unequivocal about the starting point of his graduation from unfulfilled county pro into an England fringe player.
Having struggled to fulfil his potential during spells at Surrey and Kent, a move to Hampshire in 2006 coincided with Shane Warne’s reign as captain, and Carberry’s consistent contributions ever since have seen him become a constant presence in the England A, England Lions and EPP sides - and a regular source of runs to boot.
“I’ve got a lot to thank Shane Warne for,” said Carberry. “When I moved to Hampshire I was relatively unkown to him, but he saw something in me, backed me and brought the best out of me.
“His attitude fitted in with mine - to play with freedom and to entertain. Shane was fantastic for me, so me and my family owe him a lot.
“When he’s back in the UK we correspond, and he always asks how I’m getting on. He’s a really good friend of mine and probably will be for the rest of my life.”
Warne was never shy in pressing the case of his players during his time at the Rose Bowl, but far less biased observers have tipped Carberry for a career at the top.
While the man himself is not short on self-belief, he sees little benefit in concerning himself too much with “things that you can’t control”.
“I’ve tried not to think about England too much,” he added. “Sometimes if you look too far away it can have the opposite effect.
“Players know they are close and might push too hard and not let things flow. It clogs the mind and you don’t get the runs at the right time.
“If I get the call tomorrow, that’s great - that’s your dream. But if Test level is not to be, then so be it. If it doesn’t happen I’m not going to start losing sleep and slashing my wrists.”
That philosophical approach has served Carberry well at the crease in recent years and, although, he admits he is at an age - 29 - “when I have to be realistic” about his international aspirations, he reckons his experience counts for much.
“I’m competing with a lot of good young batters,” he said. “But I’m not insecure in my batting.
“When you’re younger you’re searching for that little bit extra, and maybe trying too hard. But I know my game pretty well and my technique is pretty much secure.
“When you’re not in the England side all you can do is score runs for whoever you play for - that’s the cold harsh reality of it. It’s about focusing on your job, and your job as a batsman is to score runs.
“There’s nothing better feeling than going out in the middle, whatever the game is, and getting a hundred.
“I was glad to score a few last week, but the aim is to stay consistent. That’s where the mental side comes in - how you keep yourself fresh and not burden yourself with the idea of playing for England.”
Carberry may be doing his best to prevent his mind wandering, but if he continues his fine form you can be sure his name will be at the forefront of the England selectors’ thoughts should they need to strengthen the batting any time soon.