Michael Carberry feels Hampshire have the talent to make a quick return to County Championship division one.
The opener cracked a fine 111 in yesterday’s draw with Warwickshire – his third century of the campaign – to take his season’s tally to 793 runs, despite missing the first half of the season with a serious lung illness.
Playing just nine matches, his average of 56.64 was sorely missed, although the England Test batsman is now, thankfully, back to full health.
But it shows his late impact on the campaign that he was the county’s fourth highest run-scorer in division one, behind only Neil McKenzie (1,120), Jimmy Adams (935) and Liam Dawson (908) – all of whom played at least 15 matches.
While Carberry was too modest to admit it, Hampshire would surely have avoided relegation if he had been fit and well for the entire season.
But despite their drop from the top flight, the 30-year-old feels the county’s young talent can steer them back to promotion in the next year or two.
Carberry said: ‘Me being there might have helped, it might not have. It could have gone either way.
‘I would still put faith in any 11 guys that Hampshire put out there to perform.
‘Collectively over the season, we haven’t quite been there as a team. We haven’t been consistent enough with bat and ball.
‘It didn’t quite happen for us but we have to go back to the drawing board.
‘I think we are in the process of doing that already but the last six games have been very encouraging.
‘So I would ask the Hampshire faithful to be patient with the team.
‘We’ve got a lot of young guys coming through who have got to find their games.
‘I would definitely back us to be back in the top division in the next year or two.’
Carberry and Neil McKenzie built a partnership of 182 to frustrate title-chasing Warwickshire on the final day of the season yesterday.
And the talented left-hander admitted he allowed himself to bat selfishly.
Carberry said: ‘In those situations, you can afford to be a little bit selfish.
‘It’s not often you get the chance to help yourself to first-class runs and I was always taught that you never give away first-class hundreds.’
It’s been a remarkable return for Carberry and there will be plenty of responsibility on him next season to lead the charge from division two.
He feels there is still plenty more to come from him.
Carberry added: ‘I have found a lot of things in myself his year. You learn to love the game that you play and it could have been taken away from me very quickly.
‘I went into the past six games with no fear and to go out and enjoy however long I have left to play.
‘So it’s onwards and upwards and I think there is more left in the tank and more to come from me.’