Just Another Victim

Michael Carberry's interview with the peerless Donald McRae for The Guardian last week was both refreshing and concerning.

Refreshing in that Carberry, perhaps feeling that his brief England career is over, was happy to disregard the modern convention that no England cricketer should ever, on any account, say anything controversial, heartfelt, spontaneous or interesting when conversing with somebody from the media.

Carberry is clearly unhappy with the way he's been treated, and he gave it both barrels. This is a great thing, and we could do with more of it.

Not that we're likely to get it. Carberry's goose was probably cooked as an international player before last weekend - he's well past thirty and probably didn't quite show enough in Australia to make him worth persisting with - but if it wasn't you can be fairly sure it is now. The precise identity of England's next coach is still a mystery but you can be sure that, certainly if it's Ashley Giles, his comments won't have passed unnoticed.

The tales of Carberry being left high and dry, unsure of where he stands with England, were unwelcome but far from unusual. Back in the old days, this was how everybody felt. For a while, though, it seemed as though England had moved on. England under Flower, under Strauss, won Test matches, won whole series, won the Ashes. This winter more or less everything associated with England's flimsy house of cards has come crashing down, and, if it ever really improved, communication with players has gone down with it.

Something I found especially depressing was Carberry's revelation that his request that his mother be his invited guest for the Melbourne Test was turned down by the ECB on the grounds that it is apparently 'policy' only to pay for wives, girlfriends (or male partners, presumably) and children. For Carberry to be treated in this way comes uncomfortably close to discrimination, and reveals that the ECB's commitment to player welfare is both poorly developed and inflexibly applied.

Michael Carberry is a player who has been through a lot in his career - changes of county, a battle to establish himself as a first-class cricketer, let alone an international one, serious illness - but, like Andy Flower, and Kevin Pietersen, and, as likely as not, Monty Panesar, he is just another victim of perhaps the worst period English cricket has ever known.

Unlike one or two of the others, Carberry has had his say already. And it's clear that, for all the defeats and for all that it may have ended too soon, Michael Carberry relished playing Test cricket:

"It was the ultimate test. Everything was ramped up tenfold, the intensity, the cricket, the way Australia played. Mentally, every innings was a challenge. But I thrived on that challenge. Walking out to bat and Johnson and Harris are flying in? I like that and I like big crowds. It heightens all your senses. You definitely feel alive. In county cricket you very rarely get those experiences."

The Rose Bowl on a grey Tuesday will never quite seem the same again.

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