NatWest Series 2013: Michael Carberry Must Succeed to Bolster World Cup Chances

Aidan Reynolds@@aidanreynoldsContributor IIISeptember 14, 2013

Michael Carberry hasn't had a good series so far, and his time is running out.
Michael Carberry hasn't had a good series so far, and his time is running out.Stu Forster/Getty Images

As a cricket fan, it's easy to feel sympathy for Michael Carberry, but England's selectors will show him no such leniency when picking the squad for the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. He needs good scores in both the fourth and fifth One Day Internationals in this NatWest Series to even be considered.

With an ever-increasing emphasis on youth in cricket, it could be 32-year-old Carberry's last chance in an England shirt. 

It's a real shame, because in 2010 he was poised to be the next man to join the senior England squad. A series of dominant performances in domestic cricket led many to believe that Carberry's game could translate well to the international stage.

He played one Test match for England against Bangladesh in 2010, but tragedy struck when he was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs, which not only sidelined his career, but threatened to end his life.

Speaking to Bruce Talbot of The Cricketer in 2011, Carberry explained his anxiety during his recovery:

I had two large blood clots on my lungs which burst so I was lucky they found them. I’ve tried to stay positive and the medication’s worked pretty well so far but I’ve taken the decision to get myself right before I play again.

I do hope to play at some point this year. I’m on the drug Warfarin and that means I could cut or bruise easily. There is other medication out there but it’s whether, in taking that medication, it opens me up to another clot somewhere down the line.

It’s a bit of a vicious circle so that’s why I’ve decided to get my lungs fully clear before assessing the situation again. When your life is at threat, it does make you look at things differently. I could have continued doing something I love and then dropped dead at the wicket.

Carberry returned to action in July 2011, turning out for Hampshire's Second XI and working his way back to fitness. It took a while to get himself back into contention for England, but his consistency was rewarded with a call-up for the NatWest Series in Australia.

His luck hasn't got much better, though. 

If the rain-affected contests weren't frustrating enough, Kevin Pietersen obligingly ran him out for a duck in the second game. This followed a one-day debut where Carberry dropped two catches, conceded 12 off one over bowled and only scored 10 runs.

The knives are suddenly out.

There are a great deal of talented players waiting in the wings to prove themselves ahead of the World Cup. Joe Root was chosen to replace Carberry in the Test arena, and the selectors will no doubt stick with the young Yorkshireman. 

ODIs are likely to be Carberry's last chance at international recognition, so it's absolutely vital that he performs in Cardiff and Southampton. At the age of 32, failure to succeed in four opportunities isn't going to bring about a fifth chance.

Carberry is an excellent batsman, with a good mixture of technique and powerful hitting. He's able to both ride out pressure and change the fortunes of a game, so it's understandable that England want to get a good look at him. His performances both before and after the injury showed real talent and determination, but time is not on his side.

He's going to be nervous, but if he can at least score a 50 in Cardiff, that will open the door for him to play the sort of free-flowing shots we've seen from him in Hampshire colours.

The fourth game sets up the fifth. England need to win to remain in the series, and Carberry needs to succeed to remain in contention for the World Cup.