Hampshire's battle to get Carbs firing

Hampshire are desperate to stoke the fires burning inside key man Michael Carberry.

Michael Carberry
Michael Carberry

And the Ageas Bowl outfit are willing to present the former England opener with new challenges in a bid to get him back to top form.

Carberry, 35, batted at number four in the County Championship division one draw with Somerset this week.

And he is set to continue in that role when Hampshire begin their game with Durham at Chester-le-Street tomorrow (11am).

It is move first-team coach Dale Benkenstein hopes will help the left-hander rediscover his hunger for runs – with the door apparently closed on his bid for an England return.

Carberry’s only significant contribution in the opening six fixtures of the first-class season was 107 in the home game against Middlesex.

In the other 10 innings in those games he failed to pass 21.

Then he dropped down to bat at four against Somerset – and weighed in with 29 and an unbeaten 37 as Hampshire fought back to save the game.

Benkenstein said: ‘We’re trying to find some motivation for Carbs.

‘When you don’t have England anymore, you can lose your oxygen.

‘I’ve seen it before with a few senior players – Steven Harmison, guys who were number one in the world and two years later, not even bowling a ball.

‘We’ve found he is playing well but keeps getting out.

‘The new ball is always tough in England and we just thought batting at four might free him up a bit.

‘At this level you’ve got to have a real hunger to play.

‘As a batsman you’ve got to have that hunger for runs as you get older.

‘Whether it’s getting your individual runs, winning games, whatever, you have to find something to fight for.

‘He definitely wants to play, so that’s very important.

‘And changing your role can be a bit of a challenge really.

‘I’m just hoping it stimulates him a bit.

‘When you’ve always had one thing as your goal – playing for England – it can be tough. He is aware of it. He battles with it.’

Meanwhile, Benkenstein will discuss a potential return to the side with Adam Wheater, who was dropped for Lewis McManus against Somerset.

He said: ‘Lewis’ energy behind the stumps will help the team.

‘I’m not 100-per-cent sure he’s the answer but that’s the kind of attitude we need in the team.

‘You’re out there for a long time, you have to be the fittest, the guy that’s giving energy.

‘I find Adam flags off quite early. He is quite lazy, although his glovework is very good.

‘I want him to play as a batter but he still sees himself as a keeper-batter.

‘Our top order is short of runs and he’s got a real opportunity.

‘That’s my feeling but he’s got to work out what he wants.

‘We’ll have a chat before the game because I’d really like him to play as a batter – with Liam Dawson on England duty. But he doesn’t see himself as a batsman.’