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Comeback king: Carbs relishing second chance with England
Michael Carberry will complete one of the great comebacks when he flies to Australia as a member of England’s Ashes squad.
It is less than three years since a life-threatening illness forced the Hampshire batsman to pull out of a flight to Australia with the England Performance Programme, where he was due to train with the full England squad as they prepared for the 2010/11 Ashes.
Despite making a full recovery following the discovery of blood clots on his lungs, Carberry believed he had missed the chance to add to his solitary international cap, only to be included in England’s most recent T20, ODI and Test squads.
His Ashes inclusion tops the lot.
“It’s barely sunk in but I’m obviously delighted and looking forward to it,” said Carberry, who will be 33 on Sunday. “It’s been a topsy-turvy couple of years with some pretty down and scary times, but praise God I’ve made it through.
“There have been some good times since I’ve been back and now I’m looking forward to pitting my skills against the best.”
Carberry received news of his call-up from national selector Geoff Miller on Sunday morning. He was picked ahead of Nick Compton, who pipped Carberry to a place in last year’s touring party to New Zealand.
“Nick’s had a very good season but it’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes, I was in a similar position last year,” said Carberry, whose last two performances in the recent NatWest Series against Australia helped his cause, particularly his series-levelling 63 during the penultimate match in Cardiff.
“It got better as I went along,” he said. “I got runs in a tough situation before batting nicely in another tough situation at the Ageas Bowl.
“I felt very comfortable at that level, the Aussies deservedly won it but for a first series I didn’t do too badly.”
Ironically, Carberry’s LV County Championship form has been below his high standards in the last two seasons. But he has been back to his best in recent matches and is a big-game player who will relish the heat of an Ashes battle.
Conditions in Australia are also sure to suit his back-foot strengths.
“There’s more bounce and a lot more pace in the wickets which could suit me,” he smiled. “I haven’t been for a few years but played a little bit of grade cricket in Perth and went to training camps as a young pro over there.
“It’ll be about acclimatising, getting used to the conditions, watching the ball – and hitting the ball.”
Carberry’s versatility helped ensure his selection. He can bat anywhere in the top order, could fill England’s problem number-six position and is also likely to be involved in the ODI and T20 series that follow the Ashes.
But for now he is hoping to end the county season on a high during Hampshire’s final Championship match against Essex, which starts at The Ageas Bowl today. “Once the season’s finished I’ll be able to take it all in and prepare to get on the plane,” he said. “I’m going there with the mindset that l’m going to play, I need to be ready if my chance comes.
“If it doesn’t so be it but I’m going there with confidence as I’ve had a good season and am feeling good.”
England’s Ashes squad: Cook, Root, Trott, Bell, Pietersen, Carberry, Prior, Finn, Broad, Swann, Anderson, Bairstow, Ballance, Rankin, Tremlett, Panesar. *Bresnan to be added when fit.
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