On the brink of a Test debut, but Carberry is staying mum

A Test cap is so close for Michael Carberry now that he can probably feel it touching his head. If he does not get to wear it this Friday in the port city of Chittagong, he may never require a fitting again.

"I've waited 10 years for this and I've lost my hair," he said yesterday, careful about overplaying his chances of being in England's side for the First Test against Bangladesh but recognising the real prospect. In that time he has played for three counties and come close to leaving the professional game because the second of them, Kent, recruited a phalanx of overseas players which brought his career to a shuddering halt.

He had discussions with the careers adviser at the Professional Cricketers' Association about a new direction. His mum, Maria, was his staunchest advocate in persuading him to persevere as a batsman. But it was another foreigner, perhaps the most charismatic of them all, who revived Carberry's fortunes.

He signed for Hampshire, where their captain, Shane Warne, allowed him to flourish. It is not that Carberry has been a revelation – talent and flair have always been abundant – but on the good days he is one of those who can make the heart beat a little faster.

"You need someone, whether it's a Shane Warne or whoever, to back you, because there are going to be days where things don't go your way," Carberry said. "He got me to look at my cricket from a different angle. He is one of the most attacking-minded cricketers we have seen and that spilled on to me. He gave me that licence to go out and show my flair and do what I do."

Carberry has been around for much longer than 10 years. It was in July 1996 that he appeared for England Under-15s. James Adams, who is now his opening partner at Hampshire, was in the same team. But it never quite went according to plan when he joined the professional ranks.

"I spent my early career at Surrey as a young guy trying to break into a star-studded team with maybe seven or eight England batsmen," he said. "You do the maths. I moved to Kent, which I felt I had to do to spread my wings as a professional cricketer. I felt I performed pretty well but for various reasons couldn't get a regular spot. Kent made four new signings, who were all batsmen."

Three of the quartet were South Africans – Martin van Jaarsveld, Justin Kemp and Andrew Hall. In 2005 Carberry did not play a single Champion- ship game. He had reached a crossroads. "It was 50-50 whether I gave up," he said. "I was pretty close, I reached pre-season and I had been batting as well as I ever had been and I couldn't get in the team. I remember going home and saying to my mum I thought it would be my last season.

"I'm a fairly straight-talking person and all I wanted was a straight answer as to why I wasn't in the team, and I did not get one. Obviously they had four new guys, someone had to be the fall guy and I guess it was me."

This is a salutary story for English cricket, and any county chief executive or coach would do well always to bear it in mind. Warne, an overseas player of an altogether different hue, changed all that. "Playing under him was a massive spur in getting me here."

At the same time as giving Carberry freedom, Warne also urged him to tighten up his game. He scored 935 runs in 2006 and went to Bangladesh with England Lions, scored more than 1,000 the following summer and was successful on the Lions tour of India.

A century against New Zealand for the Lions in 2008 plainly demon-strated the new Carberry. The first fifty took 131 balls, the second 57. He then had to be carried off on a stretcher having damaged a hamstring while leaping up in the air to celebrate.

Carberry almost played a Test match against South Africa in January when he was summoned as cover after Paul Collingwood broke a finger. This time he is closer still, as Andrew Strauss's replacement as opening batsman. There are other options, and the feeling is that it may be now or never. Now would be the correct decision.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments