Michael Carberry’s share in the biggest first-wicket partnership ever recorded at Bellerive Oval has almost certainly booked him a spot opening the batting for England in the first Test, with Joe Root set for an Ashes demotion.
England made their intentions clear by promoting Carberry to open alongside Alastair Cook in a one-sided tour match in Hobart on Wednesday in which Australia A, with a fast bowler short, were humiliated.
Veteran left-hander Carberry repaid England’s faith in spades on day one with a magnificent unbeaten 153, with Cook also making 154 not out on a day of carnage.
For the first time in over 15 years England managed not to lose a wicket batting for an entire day’s play.
The tourists amassed 0-318 from 93 overs at stumps on day one, after they had won the toss on a flat pitch.
Cook shook off any ill-effects from his recent back complaint, but it was Carberry who was the star of the biggest opening partnership in Hobart since 1988 when Geoff Marsh and Mike Valetta posted 310 for WA against Tasmania.
Root was bumped down to No.5 for the match on Wednesday and watched on as a 33-year-old one-Test wonder wearing a Star Wars-type batting helmet seized his spot.
England have seemingly reacted to a poor showing by their top three during the UK Ashes Tour in the winter, with Root the victim.
On six occasions, England were three down for less than 65 runs and, aside from 180 at Lord’s, Root struggled against Australian quicks Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle.
The 22-year-old is a certainty to play somewhere in the team but it is expected to be lower in the order.
Carberry had outscored Root against the WA XI, making 78, and looked assured at the crease on Wednesday as he blasted 22 fours and two sixes.
The Australia A attack were exposed for going in a bowler down, with just two recognised seamers picked along with allrounder and captain Moises Henriques.
It was a deliberate tactic by Australia not to select bowlers in Ashes contention for this match, however the plan may have backfired – with England’s openers given an armchair ride into the coming series.
NSW quick Trent Copeland had figures of 0-68 from 25 overs and Queensland pace bowler Ben Cutting 0-56 off 21.
Henriques (0-34) only returned from the one-day tour of India on Monday and struggled.
Spinners Jon Holland (0-66) and Glenn Maxwell (0-80) didn’t look like making a breakthrough.
Australia’s plan to keep top bowlers away from opposition eyes in Hobart may have backfired, with England’s batsmen given an armchair ride into the Ashes.
Australia A were clearly a fast bowler short.
Getting the balance right for the Australia A side to face the tourists was never going to be easy with three Sheffield Shield matches happening around the country, a docile Bellerive pitch providing little assistance and varying theories on how tour matches should be approached.
Australia A’s chances of exposing England’s vulnerability at the top was compromised by Trent Copeland (0-68) and Ben Cutting (0-56) going it alone in the pace department.
There was help from allrounder Moises Henriques, who would be lucky to have shed his jet lag from India, but there was no third recognised seamer.
Spinners Glenn Maxwell and Jon Holland were ineffectual and even Usman Khawaja was thrown the ball with England none down in the final session.
National selector John Inverarity admitted when the side was selected that it was a deliberate move not to give England a look at bowlers in Test contention.
“They all have a chance (the bowlers) but I think leading into a series you’re wise in not giving the opposition a good look at your bowlers,” Inverarity said at the time.
Cricket Australia caved into England complaints for next week’s third and final pre-Ashes tour match at the SCG, and will field a stronger Invitational XI to replace a NSW second XI.
However, the big name players all called up to play for the Invitational XI are batsmen, meaning England will once again face a less than blue-ribbon attack.
Meanwhile, Shane Watson was cleared of a serious left hamstring strain and remains confident of being able to play as an allrounder in the first Test.
It appears Watson is a chance to still bowl in Brisbane provided he responds well to treatment and can get through training when the team assembles in Brisbane on November 17.
Australia are likely to pick a 13-man squad on November 12 featuring allrounder James Faulkner and an extra batsman as cover for the possibility of Watson being ruled out.