Michael Carberry has shown his brilliant best just in time to help Perth Scorchers on the road to Big Bash glory.
The Hampshire batsman is out playing in Australia’s t20 tournament and recovered from some patchy early form to blast a brutal 77 not out in 37 balls in his side’s recent win over Andrew Flintoff’s Brisbane Heat.
Carberry’s place was previously under threat with some of the Scorchers’ top Aussies returning to the fray.
But even though he was then out for just one against Hobart, he now looks likely to retain his place in the side to face Kevin Pietersen’s Melbourne Stars in tomorrow’s final group fixture.
The Scorchers are already assured of a semi-final berth but home advantage is up for grabs in the last four.
And Carberry, who was one of the few positives to emerge from England’s Ashes tour last winter, believes he has benefited from trying to relax out in the middle.
He said: ‘Since I’ve been here I have felt not quite at my best and I was probably trying too hard as well.
‘But in the Brisbane game, I just tried to relax, take my time, take some balls early on and then try to put some over the ropes. And it worked.
‘It’s quite a hard place to bat if you’re not used to it and coming from lower bouncing wickets back in England.
‘I haven’t played a lot of cricket in the past three months so it’s tough to come out and try to score at eight an over. But that’s the beauty of t20.
‘If you’re not quite at your best then it doesn’t matter how good you are or how well you’ve played, you get found out.
‘For the first few games I was battling away to get some fluency and then something just clicked.’
The 34-year-old revealed he’d had important support from team-mates and Scorchers coach Justin Langer.
Carberry, who is seventh in the leading run-scorers chart, said: ‘I had the same backing from the guys and they all believed in what I can do.
‘It’s nice to know when you are going out there after having not quite been at your best.
‘They just reassured me that it would turn around and that I was one knock away from it clicking.
‘I had been gradually hitting it better in the nets and I was as proud as punch when it clicked.’
The Scorchers are the defending Big Bash champions.
And Langer is looking for his men to continue that run and secure a home semi-final.
‘It would be great to have a home semi-final because we’ve got incredible support,’ he added.
‘The best way to do that is not to worry about run rates or wickets but to just go out and beat the Stars.’
Carbery and Pietersen are not the only Hampshire connections among the top batsmen in the competition.
Pietersen leads the rankings with 262 runs, while Brisbane’s Chris Lynn (243) – who played a season for Gosport Borough in the Southern League back in 2008 – is second in the standings.
Another former Hampshire batsman, Michael Lumb (229), is in fifth place after some impressive displays for Sydney Sixers.
Carberry (207) is seventh, while Jordan Silk (197) – who played as an overseas player for Burridge in 2012 – is in ninth place after his efforts for the Sixers.