Carberry's big step on his road to recovery
08:26 GMT, 10 May 2012
Wantage Road in Northampton is hardly one of cricket's most evocative venues, even now the old ground-sharing arrangement with the local Cobblers football team has long gone, but it is there today that one of cricket's most uplifting comebacks gathers momentum.
The awful early-season weather may take even more of the glamour away from England Lions' match against the touring West Indies, but for Michael Carberry it is the perfect venue for the latest significant step in his battle to conquer considerable adversity.
If Carberry's first Test cap, gained
in Bangladesh two years ago when Andrew Strauss was given the tour off,
was special then the addition of his second would be truly remarkable.
Road to recovery: Carberry's improved fitness and form could force him back into England contention
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For there have been times during
those two years since he scored 30 and 34 opening with Alastair Cook
when far more than his cricket career was in the balance. The Hampshire
opener's very existence was threatened.
Carberry's recovery from blood clots
on his lungs to the point where he can again push his claims to be next
in line behind Strauss and Cook in the Test openers pecking order is one
of the most positive stories in English cricket.
The fact that you have not heard too
much about it is down to this private man's reluctance to talk about
the dark days when the success he found with Hampshire and England,
after failing to establish himself at Surrey and Kent, looked like
being cut tragically short.
Carberry, 31, stepped warily into the spotlight and made it clear that he would rather not speak about the illness that struck towards the end of 2010 but from which he had sufficiently and rapidly recovered by August of last year to score a triple century at the Rose Bowl against Yorkshire.
'It's been a long road to get back but I'm pleased to be here,' said Carberry, lifting the Northampton gloom.
'It's been difficult. It always is when you've been out of the game but
I'm glad to be back and scoring runs. Yes, I guess there were times
when I thought I wouldn't be back but where there's a will there's a way
and it's about state of mind.
you cross that rope you have to put that (fears over his illness) to
the back of your mind. It's something that happened two years ago and I
like to keep it private. I want to be known for my cricket rather than
what I constantly have to do to stay on the field.'
It was the only real insight into what he still has to go through to prolong his career but privacy is his prerogative.
On target: Carberry played two Tests in Strauss' absence back in 2010
Joe Root, also in action for the Lions, may be considered the long-term successor to Strauss but if the England captain were to break a finger at Trent Bridge today it is Carberry who would be almost certain to step in for him at Lord's in the first Test next week.
And that is worth shouting from the Wantage Road rooftops.
Sammy's smile might not last
Darren Sammy was smiling yesterday as he stood in the rain and promised that the last of his missing troops, Narsingh Deonarine, will finally arrive today after visa problems to complete the West Indies tour party just a week ahead of the first Test. But their captain must surely be fearful of what lies ahead.
The tourists, deprived of key men because of the Indian Premier League and Caribbean cricketing politics, were denied proper practice at Hove by the elements and face further frustration at Northampton.
All smiles: But West Indies captain Sammy is missing a host of players
It will be a miracle if they provide meaningful opposition to England in their three-match early 'summer' series.
Diplomatic: Former Glamorgan opener James
James plots The Plan
No-one is better qualified to write about the impact Duncan Fletcher and Andy Flower have had as England coaches than Steve James.
The former Glamorgan opener and now one of the best cricket writers formed a firm friendship with Fletcher when he played under him in Cardiff, and has been a confidant of the Flower family for more than 20 years.
So The Plan – How Fletcher and Flower Transformed English Cricket, published next week by Bantam Press, is the most insightful cricket book of the year.
I can confirm, having been given an advance viewing of it, that it is required reading for anyone interested in how England rose from the very bottom of the Test world in 1999 to the top of the tree last year, with the two Zimbabweans being the key figures.
James has also trodden a diplomatic path in ensuring that the two, who are far from close, receive equal credit in the England success story.
Bumble's final word
The season has begun and it all kicked off at Headingley where Yorkshire could not get rid of Ajmal Shahzad quickly enough.
Now he has crossed the Pennines where the bottom line is that Lancashire have got themselves a cracking cricketer on loan.
I can tell you that both Andy Flower and Peter Moores rate Shahzad and, even though Yorkshire seem to feel differently, believe him to be a splendid chap. This is massively Lancashire's gain and Yorkshire's loss.