The ongoing Test series against India is actually an important one for Sam Curran. And there are various reasons for it, which delve both into the sphere of self-interest but above all, in the interest of his team. In the absence of the great Ben Stokes, with regards to whom one’s not certain about the return to international cricket, Sam Curran’s useful medium pace, accommodated by occasional swing and biting accuracy, will keep the Indian batsmen on their tenterhooks.
At least, that is what a Joe Root stymied by a mediocre first-inning team total would hope.
Moreover, Curran will be an added force in motion to the ones that are hard to defy.
Think the evergreen James Anderson and the menacing Stuart Broad.
That there’s no Mark Wood and hence no three-pronged premier pace attack, the vivacious and keen Sam Curran would be eager to share some wicket-taking responsibility with the premier stalwarts of his side.
But on a personal front, the young man from Northampton is inching closer to a landmark considered as a batsman’s first and important milestone among the many in international cricket.
The left-handed batsman associated with certain doggedness in the middle, a rare commodity nowadays is only a touch over 250 runs from scoring 1000 Test match runs.
The ability to quickly adapt to a game’s situation and contest with doggedness are facets that liken Sam Curran as one of the brightest finds of English cricket and maketh him as a one of a kind cricketer. One who’s young and raring to go, while also the individual who won’t buckle under pressure.
Just like he didn’t in England’s first inning paltry score of 183, to which he contributed 27 vital runs.
To some, 27 is no score, not when the team needs more. But against an environment of unfamiliar adversity, created beautifully by India’s pacers who England perhaps never suspected would turn up so well, these are precious runs and perhaps overshadow those accumulated by the team’s openers.
Remember Burns and Sibley collectively compiled 18. That Sam Curran remained the last man standing augurs well for what lays ahead in the series having delivered already on the promise of contributing useful runs from down the order.
Though the thing that impresses one the most about Curran is how early he was born in the game and began contributing purposefully, especially when we are still seeing several talents struggling to become permanent fixtures in International cricket breaking in not before the 27s or 28s and in some cases, 29s.
In his debut Test, which wasn’t way back in time, but in 2018 against Pakistan, when the English team looked a bit different with Sir Alastair Cook still the opener and with Dawid Malan still around, young Curran contributed with both bat and ball and was quick to make his presence felt.
It wouldn’t be outlandish to call him the key talking point as far the English bowling was concerned since while Broad, Woakes and Anderson consumed pretty much the top and the lower order, Curran contributed by dismissing the highest scorer for Pakistan.
On a green top at Leeds, Curran removed Shadab Khan (who he also got in the 2nd innings), who had scored 56 of Pak’s 174 runs. Later, when came his chance to contribute with the bat, which was after every single English batsman made a fine start albeit Buttler making 80, Curran carved four glorious boundaries to score 20. A modest outing but one at par with Bairstow and more than what Woakes, a genuine-all rounder, and Broad, no lame pushover with the bat accumulated.
He hadn’t even turned 20 and Pakistan’s fate in the series had already begun to turn southward.
But the game that would place Sam Curran, one of Surrey’s finest cricketers, on a whole different pedestal would occur just two months down the line when Virat Kohli’s India, who are again on English soil, came calling.
While many Indian spectators would gladly focus on other bright things that happened in the 2018 series, such as Pujara’s definitive 132 at the Rose Bowl, many would gladly forget the Birmingham Test.
After destroying India’s top order, including Vijay, Dhawan, and KL Rahul, who could score no better than 50 runs collectively between them, Sam Curran wasn’t done just yet.
He was merely getting started.
A brilliant counter-attacking half-century, which yielded 63 vital runs, the most for England’s 180 odd total, Curran came back in the second innings to remove the big wicket of Rahane, with Kohli, Rahul, Dhawan and Vijay had already been sent back.
His four wickets in the first-inning of India’s dismal batting display and that fighting fifty that cared little for Shami, Ishant or Umesh’s pace drew the crowds to their feet and his team to endless jubilation.
Someone who’s a product of effort and grind in an age favouring histrionics, Curran has already endeared himself to the Indian crowds, by emerging as the pick of the players for CSK, in India’s famous IPL T20 league.
Amid a pantheon of growing cricketers, the yellow bandana-wearing 23-year-old left-armer stands out as captivatingly as some of the powerful pulls and crisp cuts square on the offside.
That England resort to him in white-ball cricket bodes well for the ambitions of a cricketer who seems focused on the job not as such on the moolah cricket affords in this lucrative age.
Among the many enticing talents around in this ongoing series between two mighty forces of international cricket, watch out for Sam Curran. He’ll hopefully only soar northward in his reputation as England’s famous contributor when the chips are down.