MICHAEL Carberry will tomorrow find out whether he has been selected for England’s historic Ashes bid.
The Hampshire batsman, pictured, will no doubt be high up on the list of contenders for what appears to be a spare batting place in a 17-man squad.
But Carberry, who made his England ODI debut recently, faces stiff competition from the likes of Nick Compton, James Taylor and Ravi Bopara.
Somerset star Compton was first selected for England last winter, but then unceremoniously dropped earlier this summer, allowing Joe Root to cement his place as opener alongside captain Alistair Cook.
Despite that, though, it would still be a shock if Compton was not recalled for the trip Down Under as England aim to win the Ashes for a fourth series running for the first time since the 19th century.
Though Carberry’s record in the first class game is impressive – over 4,000 runs since the start of the 2009 English season – Compton has scored more runs in the same period.
He also has two Test hundreds against New Zealand to his name, compared to Carberry's two scores of 30 in his sole Test three and a half years ago.
Harsh though it might appear for the Hampshire man, it is hard to see him now winning a second Test cap.
If Carberry were to get the nod, the slap in the face for Compton would be one of the hardest any England group of selectors have ever handed out.
Continuity in England’s management will ensure the selectors will try to cover all plausible eventualities with the squad they name at HQ.
At least nine of those who travelled to Australia last time, and have since played their part again this summer in retaining the Ashes, are sure to go again - including Tim Bresnan, who will be given the opportunity to prove his fitness after a stress fracture in his back.
Young opener Root can be confidently added to account for all but one of the probable XI for the first Test.
It is when identifying the deputies and understudies that England must be braver - and wiser.
The uncertainty over Bresnan means an extra seamer is nonnegotiable – so there will be five frontliners, at least, with the option of pace-bowling allrounders.
Boyd Rankin stands, literally, head and shoulders at the top of the queue – while both Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes are thought skilful enough to be able to bolster waning bowling and batting resources alike.
Ex-Hampshire star Chris Tremlett, left, who played a key role when England won the Ashes Down Under in 2010/11, will also fancy his chances given recent history.
That just leaves a tricky decision – who provides the back-up for off-spinner Graeme Swann?
By press consensus, it seems Monty Panesar is back in the frame despite his drunken aberrations in Brighton and subsequently swift departure from Sussex last month.
It will take a leap of faith to trust the slow left-armer to behave for three months away from home, especially because he is likely to have plenty of time on his hands if Swann stays in good health.
In the circumstances, the contrastingly reliable off-spinner James Tredwell – even after being targeted by Australia in the NatWest Series – will be a safer choice.
Possible England Ashes squad: AN Cook (Captain), JE Root, IJL Trott, KP Pietersen, IR Bell, BA Stokes, MJ Prior (wkt), TT Bresnan, SCJ Broad, GP Swann, JM Anderson, JC Buttler (wkt), WB Rankin, JC Tredwell, NRD Compton, ST Finn, CR Woakes.
l Carberry is expected to return to the Hampshire team for the county’s last Championship game of the season, against Essex at The Ageas Bowl starting tomorrow.