Atherton defends Carberry, reserves Robson judgment

England

Former captain Michael Atherton has insisted England not neglect opening batsman Michael Carberry for June's Test series against Sri Lanka.

Former captain Michael Atherton has insisted England not neglect opening batsman Michael Carberry for June's Test series against Sri Lanka.

Carberry enjoyed a slew of solid starts in the five-nil Test series defeat to Australia earlier this year, but only graduated to one half-century – 60 at the Adelaide Oval in December.

The right-handed Joe Root's ability to contribute with the ball too and the fine stretch of form gathered by the uncapped Sam Robson, Nick Compton and James Vince in this season's County Championship, however, has brought suggestion the 34-year-old Carberry be sidelined.

"I'm slightly uncomfortable just discarding Carberry. He didn't do horrendously. I've been there against bowlers who are trying to knock your block off at 94 to 95 miles per hour," Atherton told <i>Sky Sports News</i>.

"You've gone through that very tough scenario only to be discarded for a 24-year-old who has had a nice time of it with the Lions in Sri Lanka and gets his chance against the seam of Sri Lanka and India.

"We shouldn't get sucked into the argument that Carberry is too old – don't worry about age so much, just pick what you believe is going to be your best side."

The Australian-born Robson, who recently qualified to play for England, has emerged as the firm favourite to open the batting alongside Alastair Cook at Lord's and Headingley.

A superb century for Middlesex against Nottinghamshire and another versus Hampshire have characterised the right-hander's talent recently, while twin tons for the England Lions against Sri Lanka A ensured a prolific February.

"I think the selectors will pick Robson. Whether they should, I'm not sure. I haven't seen enough of him to make a judgment but he's got to be getting a stack full of runs," added Atherton.

"We often talk a lot of theory but should be asking 'who is really knocking down the door with a hat full of runs?' When you've got a side that has just been hammered five-nil, all positions are open and you have to keep it simple. Who is really demanding to be selected?"

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