Most 20 year olds at the moment are off to University or working long hours in their ‘newish’ jobs. Very few ever get the chance to play county cricket, even fewer get the chance to play test cricket and only 1 is waiting for an immanent call for him to be confirmed in the test team Vs Sri Lanka, with a ‘player of the series’ award on his mantle peace, having helped his country beat the number 1 test side in the world… His name is Sam Curran!
Sam Curran was first picked to represent Surrey in the county championship at only 17 years of age. Opening the bowling with his brother Tom, it didn’t take long for him to make his mark, as he bagged 5-101 in the first innings of the match, including the wicket of Sam Billings for 99. Since then (and bearing in mind his first two years of county championship cricket was affected by his A Levels), he has 1790 first class runs for Surrey and England, averaging 28.87, including 13 50s and a high score of 96 Vs Lancashire. In terms of bowling, he has bagged 131 victims at First Class level, with 6 5 wicket hauls and an average of 28.88.
He also has 1 ten wicket haul in First Class cricket and this was arguably the match which prompted the selectors to give him a test debut against Pakistan in June. On the 11th of May 2018, Surrey played a Yorkshire team which included Root, Bairstow and Pujara at the Oval. After Ollie Pope’s 158* helped Surrey to a score of 414, Sam Curran took it upon himself to dismiss the whole of the Yorkshire side. He picked up figures of 6-54, including the wickets of Pujara and the England captain. His 4-47 in the second innings enabled him to reach his maiden ten-fer… and who could be better to do it infront of than Joe Root?
Despite having been called up before for England for the T20s down under, Curran made his debut in the second test against Pakistan, replacing Mark Wood. He picked up his first wicket when Shadab Khan skied the ball to Keaton Jennings and proceeded to score 20 in his first test innings, on his 20th birthday, making him one of the only players to score the same number of runs as their age on their birthday.
Whilst he only picked up 2 wickets and scored 20 in his debut test, Curran repaid the selectors’ faith in him with a man of the match performance in the first test against India. After scoring 24 in the first innings, he picked up both openers and KL Rahul after the visitors had (seemingly) cruised to 50-0. Picking up 4-74 to help England bowl out India in the first innings, Curran then showed that he isn’t just a 3rd/4th seamer… When England were toiling at 87-7, he scored a match winning 63 to show that he is a genuine all-rounder! England eventually won a tight test by 31 runs and Curran’s performance not only assured him of the man of the match trophy, but prompted Root to describe him as ‘another Ben Stokes.’
In a rain-affected 2nd test, Curran yet again performed with the bat, scoring 40 before an immanent declaration caused him to get out slogging.
We all know what happened next and I’m sure there isn’t anyone who understands why Curran was dropped after such a stellar start to his test career.
However, he was back with a bang with yet another match winning innings in the fourth test. After England had crawled to 86-6, Curran scored his 2nd test fifty and his second fifty when England needed it the most. His 78 helped England to reach 246, but he wasn’t done there… Yes, he only picked up 1 wicket in India’s 1st innings, but the wicket of Virat Kohli (especially before he had caused too much damage) is probably worth at least 3 wickets! He rounded off the test with another important 46, seeking quick runs in the end with only the help of James Anderson, and the important wicket of Ashwin to win the series for England!
After being picked for England as a 3rd seamer and an important left arm option, Curran has showcased his talents with 292 runs at an average of 36.5 for England and 13 wickets at 23.23 a piece. In only 5 tests, he has proven that he can change games at international level, a skill very few cricketers ever possess. Whilst seen as a bowling all-rounder at present, it is strongly suggested that, with time, Curran will adapt more into the shoes of a batsman who can bowl.
So, what are your thoughts about England’s 20 year old hero? Will he eventually become more of a batsman or will he have to rely on upping his pace and consistency with the ball? And how do you think he will fare this winter in Sri Lanka?
If his first 5 tests are anything to go by, we are in for an exciting time, watching him develop into one of England’s best!