Image courtesy of: The Daily Star
“I’m so thrilled because I know what he has been though…and I’m very proud of him”
Former England and Surrey pace bowler Alex Tudor has revealed that no one truly understands the struggles Michael Carberry has had to endure to get to where he is today.
Tudor has known Carberry “since he was a kid” and reminisced about how he and Carberry’s mother talked him out of ditching cricket when he was with Kent’s 2nd XI five years ago.
However, nothing prepared Tudor for what happened to Carberry in 2008, where the flamboyant batsman celebrated his century while playing for England Lions against New Zealand by punching the air before collapsing immediately and being whisked off the ground on a stretcher.
Tudor later found out that Carberry was on his way to the intensive care unit after two blood clots had been found on his lungs.
“He’d been to the ECB centre in Loughborough for fitness testing,” Tudor recalled. “Then, around midnight that night, he got a call from the physio who asked him where he was. ‘What do you mean, Where am I? I’m at home with my mum.’
“The physio told him he needed to make contact with the doctor, and at first Carbs said it was too late to call him then; it would be disrespectful, he might be asleep, he would ring him in the morning.
“Then the guy’s tone changed. ‘You need to phone him now and you need to get to hospital immediately.'”
Carberry was hooked up to a drip and spent a week in the intensive care unit before he was discharged.
“He was scared when he rang me,” Tudor said. “When he told me what was wrong I could hear from his voice that it was not good. I didn’t know what to say. No one had picked up on the problem until then. It was very frustrating for him because no one could understand why he was so often short of breath.
“He was totally focused and very ambitious and he still hits more balls in practice than anyone, yet, without knowing what was wrong with him, some people had even questioned his commitment.
“On the outside he was a young, fit, strong man, yet he always struggled with the bleep tests and with general fitness and, though some thought it might be asthma, others put it down to laziness or not trying hard enough.
“Now it all made sense. He wasn’t lazy. He was very ill. The flight to Australia was only a fortnight away, so thank God they picked it up in time. From what we know now, if they hadn’t and Carbs gets on that plane, he’s brown bread.”
Despite Carberry receiving all the necessary treatment, Hampshire coach Giles Smith remembers how everyone wondered if he would be able to play competitive cricket again.
“We had to go very carefully with him at first because treatment with blood-thinning agents initially carried its own risk,” Smith said. “Had he been hit in the wrong place by a hard cricket ball, there was significant danger of internal bleeding.
“But once he made that commitment to fighting his way back, I knew he would make it. He just said, ‘Right, let’s make a plan and get on with it.'”
Carberry battled his way back to the top and his never give up attitude earned him a spot on England’s Ashes team for their ongoing tour in the Land Down Under.
In the two warm-up matches that England have played against Western Australia and Australia A, Carberry has scored 78 and 153 not out respectively.
“He was seriously considering jacking it in back in 2005,” Tudor said. “He was always a cricket badger. As a kid he had millions of DVDs and videos of Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting and he had a burning desire to succeed. As a young, ambitious man, his impatience persuaded him to leave Surrey for Kent, when he could have stayed and waited his turn.
“So when Kent showed they clearly didn’t rate him, it was a big blow. Thanks to Hampshire and Shane Warne he was able to kickstart his career. But what happened with his illness definitely gave him a sense of perspective.
“I’m so thrilled because I know what he has been though…and I’m very proud of him.”