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Carberry can't afford to think about an Ashes call-up
8:00am Monday 16th September 2013 in Sport
Michael Carberry could perhaps be forgiven for allowing his mind to wander to the possibility of an early 33rd birthday present, in the form of an Ashes call-up.
England's Test squad announcement is expected in seven days' time, and Hampshire ace Carberry's birthday is inked in a week later.
But he will not be star-gazing about either of those dates until the NatWest Series decider, in front of his home crowd at the Ageas Bowl this afternoon, is out of the way.
After his maiden one-day international half-century in England's series-levelling three-wicket victory over Australia in Cardiff on Saturday, Carberry has the chance to make more gains in the day-night fixture in Southampton.
As well as featuring in a winning team in his first ODI series, he would be doing those Ashes prospects no harm at all.
Carberry, however, is long enough in the tooth after a 14-year professional career to date to know there is no future in an opening batsman allowing himself to be distracted from keeping his eyes on the ball - especially if it is arriving at 94mph, courtesy of Mitchell Johnson.
"I've got to take each game at a time. I can't afford not to; I've got to focus on what's in front of me," he said.
"Whoever is picked, best of luck to them. I will just worry about tomorrow for now."
There appears to be room in England's touring party for a batting understudy to the likely first-choice XI, and Carberry's status as a specialist at the top of the order is a handy factor for a cricketer whose only Test so far came against Bangladesh in Chittagong three-and-a-half years ago.
Those deliberations will wait - although Carberry's success or otherwise in dealing with the white ball against Johnson et al today may yet have a bearing.
Left-arm seamer Johnson is bowling as quickly as he ever has, at the age of 31, and Carberry said: "He seems to be getting up for it at the moment.
"It was pretty tough stuff against him early on with the new ball (in Cardiff)."
Carberry had to contend with Johnson in full flow on Saturday after Clint McKay had already taken a hat-trick, with his less break-neck but nonetheless canny seamers, to leave England eight for three in pursuit of 227 all out.
"That is the difference between playing county cricket day in day out, and international cricket," said the left-handed opener.
"The pace of the bowlers is just that little bit more.
"It probably does determine how you play, what shots you can try, when they're bowling that much quicker (than what you're used to).
"But the basic principles of batting remain the same - watching the ball - and shot selection becomes a little bit more key.
"When someone is slinging them down at 93 or 94mph, like Mitchell was, the longer you are there the more you get used to it."
It is just possible he may have an extended opportunity to do so again this winter.
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