England's new selection panel have named their first squads as they try to restore fortunes following a miserable winter. Ralph Ellis says Michael Carberry's return is a step in the right direction...
"Hopefully Carberry will get the chance to show that in the only T20 against Sri Lanka at the Kia Oval on Tuesday, for which England are slight favourites at 1.991/1 in the early market."
Time was when sportsmen of all shapes and sizes were free to say what they thought. If they grumbled about getting dropped, didn't like the tactics, or felt they'd been hard done by in any way shape or form it made a headline for a day or two, but was then wrapping chips.
Now you have Tottenham sacking a manager in Tim Sherwood who had a better win percentage than his predecessor because he was too outspoken; you have stars like Wayne Rooney giving interviews only if the sponsors get a plug and his words are vetted by his agent before they appear; and you reach the end of a day's Test cricket only allowed to talk to one player from each team. Real opinions tend to come through Twitter, but even then normally only from somebody's best mate.
So when Michael Carberry spoke out after he'd been dropped from England's one-day squads in the winter, it looked as if an international career that began late was about to be ended early. He accused Ashley Giles, then in the running to take over the team, of poor man management. He claimed he had been given a "shorter rope" than other batsmen who stayed in the side despite making less runs. He asked why the ECB paid the air fares and hotel costs for every other player's wife or girlfriend to visit them for Christmas, but wouldn't let him invite his Mum to Australia as his only guest.
In fact at 33 years old, he couldn't have given the authorities much more excuse to decide they needed to "look to bring through younger talent." So it is to the great credit of Peter Moores as he resumes an international coaching career cut drastically short a few years ago that Carberry is back in the fold.
The Hampshire opener is the significant name in the squad for a T20 and then a one-day series against Sri Lanka that suggests Moores is ready to brush his way back through the England set-up with a completely new broom.
The fact is Carberry deserves to be there. He may not have had the greatest Ashes series, but he was far from the worst, either. He was England's top first innings scorer in the first Test, and in the series had an average marginally better than his opening partner Alastair Cook. And when it comes to the One Day stuff his figures stand comparison with anybody.
James Whitaker, one of the new national selection panel, made it clear England have forgiven and forgotten. "He aired his views but life moves on, nobody's perfect," he said. "What will count is his talent."
Hopefully Carberry will get the chance to show that in the only T20 against Sri Lanka at the Kia Oval on Tuesday, for which England are slight favourites at 1.991/1 in the early market. (On the evidence of Sri Lanka's admittedly rain affected defeat to Essex last night, the hosts are worth backing at that price against a side lacking in preparation in English conditions.) Ian Bell impressed as an opener against Scotland, but Carberry's attacking flair belongs at the top of the order and he deserves another chance not just in that game but in the One-Day series.
The old ethos was that what you said by your actions on the field counted for far more than what you said in interviews off it. Carberry has the chance to reclaim those standards and you hope he takes it.