England opening batsman Michael Carberry reflects on influence of Shane Warne at Hampshire and his battle to overcome life-threatening illness.
Michael Carberry’s shining moment the cricketer, an opening batsman on the threshold of playing in an Ashes series in Australia after he matched Alastair Cook’s hundred in Hobart with one of his own. Carberry has found his world spinning, talking to Sky Sports he states how he personally felt honoured to come play with the British team and at this level of cricket. After moving around and finding his niche, Michael settled at Hampshire, where Warne, the Pom-baiter in chief was captain, not only made him feel welcome but gave him a focus for his talents.
“I think Shane Warne is basically the reason why I actually got a chance to play Test cricket,” said Carberry, after he opened the innings against Australia ‘A’ in place of Joe Root, who was moved down the order. “I was a young guy, a little bit lost in county cricket. I came to Hampshire – and from day one, he made me feel very much at home and gave me the backing every young player needs.”
Warne is thought to be the great Test captain Australia never had, and more than Carberry speak of his positive influence. Imbued with incredible talent and the confidence that brings, Warne can be intolerant of some players but not those he feels are willing to play the game in a positive way.
“I think he was very influential in terms of me doing what I’ve done, then me getting the chance to play for England a few years on,” said Carberry. “He allowed me to play a brand of cricket I wanted to play.
In Monday’s match against Australia Carberry’s fine innings of 78 in Perth must have made a powerful impact on Andy Flower, given the latter’s tendency to make a plan then stick to it.
Carberry is reluctant to discuss that period speaking to Sky generally that in other words a period of time ” I went off the beat and track”. Happily now, an effective formulation of medicine has been found and he has now enjoyed two seasons of relatively worry-free cricket, a period that culminated in his selection for this tour and, as now looks likely, a second Test cap to add to the one he won in Bangladesh in 2009/10.
“It’s obviously been well-documented that I have had some tough times personally off the field and, by the grace of God, I’m here to enjoy what I’m doing now,” said Carberry, who has put a future career as a fully qualified electrician on hold after an unexpected call-up for this tour.
“I think, when things like that happen, it gives you perspective on your cricket. It made me probably relax more, and try to enjoy the game for what it is – rather than, as young players do, put pressure on yourself to get where you want to get to.”
His calm presence at the crease has certainly attracted Flower’s attention on this tour. England’s team director knows that his team cannot afford to be 30 for three as they were in several of the Tests last summer, relying on Ian Bell to keep pulling them out of the mire with a hundred.
Test matches in Australia tend to be won by teams making the bulk of their runs in the first innings then setting their bowlers to work on any advantage that has accrued. Nullifying the new ball is crucial to that plan, something Carberry and Cook did with cool composure here against Australia ‘A’.
It was some going, albeit on a pitch that offered little to the bowlers after a spicy first 90 minutes. No pair of batsmen have batted the day out for England since Graham Thorpe and Mark Ramprakash did so against South Australia in 1998. Also the partnership between Cook and Carberry, worth 318 at the end of day one, is the highest by an England opening pair since 1948, when Len Hutton and Cyril Washbrook made 359 in Johannesburg.
While that was a Test match this, allegedly, was Australia’s second string, in which case it looked very frayed especially Jon Holland, the left-arm spinner.
Whatever the outcome of this game, Carberry looks certain to open in Brisbane in two weeks time.