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Mark Butcher
Cricket Columnist

Michael Carberry will open for England in Ashes, says Mark Butcher

Ashes Debate: Can Carberry step up?

Michael Carberry has secured his place in England's Ashes line-up following a ton on day one of the tour match with Australia A.

That's the view of Sky Sports pundit and former England batsman Mark Butcher after witnessing Carberry post an unbeaten 153 - and opening partner Alastair Cook notch 154 not out - as Andy Flower's tourists reached 318/0 at stumps in Hobart.

Read our day one report here

Carberry played his only Test to date in Bangladesh in 2010 - scoring 30 in his first knock and 34 in his second - but was named in England's Ashes party off the back of a stellar season at domestic level with Hampshire, both in the County Championship and limited-overs formats.

Butcher - and fellow analyst Dominic Cork - now feels the Croydon-born stroke-maker will unite with England skipper Cook for the first Test versus Australia at The Gabba, when the clash commences, live on Sky Sports, on November 21.

"Carberry, who probably thought his chance of playing Test cricket had disappeared, is now pretty much inked in as Cook's opening partner in Brisbane and his confidence will be sky-high after a really assured performance," said Butcher.

"Carberry was an insurance policy from England, because he can open and bat at six, but because I don't think England fancied any of Gary Ballance, Jonny Bairstow or Ben Stokes batting at six, Root has gone down the order and Carberry has come in - and he has now cemented his place."

Carberry: Start of things to come

Cork, who previously played with left-hander Carberry at Hampshire, added: "He has worked hard physically and mentally and sorted out his career, with his play against spin improving in particular after playing lots of Twenty20 cricket.

"He has been more aggressive, expressed himself and proved he has the temperament and the technique [for Test cricket] and if he and Cook can go into any game and play like they did [on day one in Hobart], Australia won't win a match in the Ashes."

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Cook reacted to having his captaincy called into question by Australian leg-spinning legend Shane Warne by joining compatriot Carberry in bringing up three figures in Tasmania - and Butcher reckons that will now set the Essex bat up perfectly for the rest of the tour Down Under.

The 28-year-old accrued 766 runs from five Tests at an average of 127.66 in the previous Ashes on Australian soil in 2010/11, but struggled against the Baggy Greens in the five-day arena this summer, failing to register a ton throughout the series.

However, Butcher thinks Cook showcased plenty of his attributes in Hobart, while Cork believes that, having seen the visiting openers saunter to centuries, the Australian hierarchy may regret not pitting a beefier bowling attack against England in the warm-up tussle.

Butcher said: "Australia would have been happy that Cook had a bad back, and had put in a terrible performance by his standards in the Ashes last summer.

"They also would have been happy with Warne having a go at him, saying his captaincy is dour, his batting is no good and his footwork is hopeless.

"But after a scratchy start, Cook grew in stature, looked immovable, made an inevitable hundred and by the end he was pretty much toiling with the Australia A bowlers.

"However, let's not forget, that that they do not form the most penetrative or frightening attack you are ever likely to see."

Cork concluded: [Australia coach] Darren Lehmann will now be thinking: 'Should I have picked a better attack?' because you do not want Cook, Carberry, [Jonathan] Trott and [Kevin] Pietersen hitting form as in Brisbane the wicket will be quicker and it will be easier to time the ball."

Watch the Ashes live on Sky Sports this winter, beginning with the opening Test at the Gabba. Coverage begins at 11pm on Sky Sports 2 HD on 20 November.