England seem certain to have a new opening batsman for the Ashes. Michael Carberry might have departed for the tour of Australia a fortnight ago as one of the batting reserves but his assured century in the tour match against Australia A today has completely altered his status.
The tourists dominated proceedings against an attack that was lean rather than mean on the first day of their second tour match against Australia A. Carberry, who finished on 153no, shared an almost faultless and largely untroubled, unbroken first wicket partnership of 318 with his captain, Alastair Cook, who was on 154no.
The pair’s progress was all but unimpeded. If the attack they faced is truly the second best that Australia have to offer then their bowling resources are dangerously thin.
But England dealt with brutal thoroughness with what was in front of them. In a way, they have backed themselves into a corner with the selection for the First Test.
Carberry, who made 78 in the opening match at Perth last week, would not have played then had Cook’s back not prevented his inclusion. But his composure prompted a strategic restructuring with the number six berth still to be filled.
It is difficult to imagine the selectors leaving out Carberry now with only one more match left before the Test series begins in 15 days. Joe Root, who opened in the home Ashes last summer and was virtually inked in for the winter berth, may now have to contend with others for the number six spot.
They were denied an opportunity today with Cook and Carberry in such form. Both needed to be extremely cautious in the morning as the Hobart pitch encouraged plenty of movement but their judgement in leaving the ball was mostly impeccable.
Cook was the first to reach a century, the 45th of his first-class career, with a characteristically nudged single into the leg side. But Carberry followed shortly after with his 17th four, pulled to backward square. The attack looked increasingly careworn as the day went on and the pair became the first for England since Graham Thorpe and Mark Ramprakash, who put on 387 against South Australia in 1998-99, to bat all day.