A long-standing feature on this blog has been our Cricket Heroes & Zeroes series, which has brought together the likes of Douglas Jardine, Hedley Verity, Charles Colville and Matthew Hayden to be celebrated or mocked in accordance with our wishes.
Over the next few days, we'll be looking at some of the heroes and villains of the 2011 County Cricket season, and we start with perhaps the biggest hero of the lot - Michael Carberry.
Carberry's feats on the cricket field were impressive enough, but it was the dignity and determination he showed in coming back from a life-threatening illness that made his inclusion as a County Cricket 2011 Hero pretty much automatic.
As most of you will know, Carberry was diagnosed with blood clots on his lungs back in November last year and as recently as June, his participation for Hampshire this season and even his career were still in the balance.
Although Carberry's condition was extremely serious, he dealt with it in a matter-of-fact stoical fashion, saying in June that “When your life is at threat, it does make you look at things differently. I could have continued doing something I love and then dropped dead at the wicket. That would have been heartbreaking for my family and the guys who play with me day in, day out." The master of understatement.
The doubts over whether he would play this season centred around the drug he was given to aid his recovery - Warfarin: a side effect of which meant that the patient can cut or bruise easily - hardly suitable for facing a hard round cricket ball.
But happily Carberry did finally make a comeback at Hove on mid-July, scoring 2 and 59 as Hampshire slipped to a five wicket defeat.
And it didn't take him long to get back in the driving seat either when in his third match back against Yorkshire at the Rose Bowl he had the ride of his life with a career best 300 not out as he and Neil Mckenzie wrote themselves into the record books with a mammoth 523 run partnership.
Carberry maintained his scintillating form until the season's finale, where his final day hundred went a long way to denying Warwickshire the Championship and handing the crown to Lancashire.
He finished up with 793 runs from his nine matches at an impressive 56.64. Carberry's return also coincided with a remarkable upturn in Hampshire's performances that saw them win three of their last six matches.
Sadly, the revival came too late to save them from relegation, but a quick return to Division 1 cannot be ruled out, especially if Carberry - unquestionably a County Cricket hero of 2011 - has anything to do with it.
We'll leave the last words to Carberry, who said of his illness:
“When something like this happens the important thing is not to spend your time moping around but to stay positive and just be pleased you’re alive."
A lesson to us all.
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