:England appear to have forgiven Michael Carberry‘s unusuallyoutspoken criticism of the selectors and management after the Ashes tour by including him in the two separate squads for the Twenty20 and one-day internationals against Sri Lanka.
Whether Carberry will actually play a match remains a moot point because this selection could yet restore him to the position he found so frustrating during the one-day series that followed the Ashes in Australia, as an unused reserve batsman.
Ian Bell’s inclusion in the 13-man squad for the single T20 international against the newly crowned world champions at The Oval on Tuesday would suggest he is a more likely opening partner for Alex Hales, with Moeen Ali a more obvious option than Carberry to bat at No3.
It is a similar story in the 14-man squad named for the first three of the five 50-over matches. Alastair Cook will resume the captaincy from Eoin Morgan and restore his established opening partnership with Bell and Carberry again seems likely to miss out to Gary Ballance, Joe Root, Morgan and Ravi Bopara in the middle order.
But by including the 33-year-old left-hander, the selectors and the new head coach, Peter Moores, have confounded the general feeling that Carberry had made himself unpickable by wondering aloud in an interview with the Guardian’s Donald McRae in March about the “strange decisions” being made in English cricket, and expressing his frustration at the lack of communication as “the way they tend to do things”.
James Whitaker, the national selector, is the only man covered by Carberry’s criticisms who remains in his position following the departure of Ashley Giles as coach of the one-day team, and the appointment of Angus Fraser, Mick Newell and Moores to the selection panel.
But he made it clear after announcing the squads at Headingley that no hard feelings remain. “I don’t know where that came from,” said Whitaker. “He aired his views but life moves on, nobody’s perfect, certainly we aren’t and he isn’t, nobody is. What will count is his talent. I don’t think there was ever an issue.
“He is still playing good-quality county cricket and has been involved in the England squads in the last 12 months and is very much a good player who we see contributing for England.”
Whitaker revealed that Carberry will continue working with Graham Gooch, even though Gooch is no longer employed as the England batting coach, the pair having developed a good relationship during the Ashes tour when Carberry played in all five Tests as Cook’s opening partner, and spent more time at the crease than any other England batsman.
Whitaker would not be drawn on Carberry’s Test prospects but was more forthcoming on the position regarding Matt Prior and Ben Stokes, who have made one appearance between them so far this season after suffering contrasting injuries in the spring.
Prior is now scheduled to make his comeback after a persistent achilles problem in a Championship fixture against Middlesex starting on 26 May, less than a fortnight before the first Test against Sri Lanka at Lord’s. Whitaker said Stokes had received a “positive” scan on the wrist injury he sustained hitting a locker in frustration during the one-day matches in the West Indies in February, and he is expected to return to training before a possible return in Durham’s Championship game against Nottinghamshire which starts at Trent Bridge on 25 May, when Stuart Broad is also expected to make his first appearance of the season.
Bell’s inclusion in the T20 squad, which is likely to mean a first appearance in the shortest form since early 2011, is bad news for Michael Lumb, who is one of three casualties from the mostly miserable the World T20 campaign along with Jade Dernbach and Stephen Parry.
Tim Bresnan returns to both squads, but there is no place for his Yorkshire team-mate Liam Plunkett, with Whitaker hinting that he is more likely to be considered for Test cricket.
Moeen is not included in the 50-over squad, but that could be interpreted as further evidence that he is in England’s Test plans, as it will allow him to do some more red-ball bowling for Worcestershire