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Carberry in no-man's land, says former England skipper
5:00am Wednesday 1st January 2014 in Sport
MICHAEL Carberry doesn’t know “whether to stick or twist” according to a former England skipper as he waits to see whether he is selected for the final Test of the Ashes series.
The 33-year-old Hampshire batsman has so far played all four Tests of the series, all of which England have humiliatingly lost - three by large margins of runs and the last one by eight wickets after establishing a first innings lead.
He is England’s second top runscorer in the series with 238 from eight innings at 29.75.
Only his former Hampshire colleague Kevin Pietersen, with 285 runs at 35.62, has scored more.
But Carberry could yet pay the price for passing 50 just once when England select their side for the Sydney Test which starts on Friday.
Former England skipper Alec Stewart believes Carberry is stranded in a “no-man’s land” at present, having seemingly abandoned his natural attacking game.
“He was picked on the back of his reputation in county cricket as a fluent stroke-playing opener and on his performances in the one-day matches against Australia last summer,” said Stewart “He started off positively, but he has gone completely into his shell and is now almost a mirror image of Nick Compton in his last couple of innings before he was dropped.
“Why has it happened?
“Is it because he has got out pulling a couple of times in the first three Tests?
“I’m sure there is talk in the dressing-room about people putting a higher price on their wickets.
“That is common sense but it does not mean totally abandoning the tried and trusted ways that have got you runs throughout your career. “ In the second innings of the fourth Test loss at Melbourne, Carberry batted for two hours to score 12 runs, with just one boundary.
“That isn't Michael Carberry batting with the freedom I'd associate with him,” Stewart added.
“At the moment he's in no man's land and doesn't know whether to stick or twist.
“The selectors have to decide whether Carberry is still going to be in their plans for the summer or whether they've already decided he hasn't got what it takes to be a Test opener.
“If he remains in their thoughts then he should definitely play in Sydney. But if they are already thinking of going in a different direction against Sri Lanka in June then they should move Joe Root back up to open, allowing Ian Bell to go in at three and Gary Ballance to come into the middle order.”
The Zimbabwean-born Ballance, 24, is still waiting to make his Test debut.
He ended the 2013 English domestic season in fine form, making 148 and 108 not out in the same game against Surrey.
Earlier in the season he hit 141 not out against Notts and 112 against Warwickshire. But he flopped on his only two first class innings on the current tour, making 4 and 0 against the Western Australia CA and Australia A respectively.
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