The rise and rise of Sam Curran

Sam Curran’s efforts at the death has earned him praises from teammates and former cricketers.

Published : Nov 02, 2022 18:35 IST , Brisbane

England’s Sam Curran celebrates after taking a catch during a T20 World Cup match against New Zealand.
England’s Sam Curran celebrates after taking a catch during a T20 World Cup match against New Zealand. | Photo Credit: Tertius Pickard

England’s Sam Curran celebrates after taking a catch during a T20 World Cup match against New Zealand. | Photo Credit: Tertius Pickard

The equation of 26 runs off six balls is no longer a tough ask in modern-day cricket. So, when England all-rounder Sam Curran ran in to bowl the final over at the Gabba on Tuesday, with New Zealand still in the hunt, there was apprehension regarding whether he would be able to successfully close out the game.

The 24-year-old held his nerves to concede just five and hand England a 20-run win in the T20 World Cup game. Curran’s efforts at the death earned him praises from teammates and former cricketers. England, as has been the case lately, benefitted immensely from Curran’s red-hot form.

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The young gun, who features in quite a bit of franchise cricket around the world, has emerged as the highest wicket-taker in the Super 12 stage with nine scalps. In the world of T20 cricket, where a couple of deliveries are all that is needed to make or break careers, Curran bowled nine dots in his four overs, claiming two key wickets for just 26.

England is yet to qualify for the semis, but finds itself in a more favourable space than archrival Australia. And Curran, understandably, doesn’t want to rest on his laurels.

“I am really enjoying contributing to the team. There will be days when guys will have different roles and will be bowling at different phases, but at the moment, I am really enjoying it,” Curran says.

The Gabba saw three back-to-back matches played on the same surface, so the wicket was naturally a bit slower. As a result, Curran understands it is important to plan things well in advance. “When we go to Sydney (for the last group league match), we don’t know what to expect. We have to train for a few days and then just adjust to the night,” he says.

This clarity of thought has helped Curran. He knows there will be days when he would be able to defend runs easily, but there could also be occasions when things head towards a close finish. Like the 2019 ODI World Cup’s Super Over against the Black Caps. 

Curran, of course, hopes a Super Over ‘does not hurt’ England. However, if he is ever tasked to bowl that over, he would readily take up the challenge. “You always back yourself in those situations, and hope,” he says.

In its last five T20s in Australia over the past month, Curran has grabbed 14 wickets at an economy rate of 6.9. In the tournament opener against Afghanistan, Curran claimed England’s first fifer in T20 cricket. He bowled in the 18th and 20th overs and claimed four wickets, which helped his team seal the low-scoring game.

Over the weeks, Curran has only got better. His yorkers and slower deliveries have flummoxed batters, and Curran, featuring in his first World Cup, understands how to deal with crunch situations. “When I was on the boundary there, all the English fans were chanting (my name). Obviously, if we had lost this game, we would have been in a tricky position. It’s amazing,” he says.

England hasn’t had the greatest of days of late. First, it suffered a shock defeat against Ireland and then the game against Australia was a washout in Melbourne. “We are going to Sydney and it’s real game time. It’s almost like that quarterfinal feeling, which I’ve never really been involved in and Sydney will be another place where we will have to adapt and bag the top two spots.” The focus now shifts to the game against Sri Lanka.

Curran credits the Indian Premier League (IPL) for helping him develop his bowling. He missed the last season due to injury, but has had stints with the Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab. In the 2019 season, he claimed 10 wickets, following it up with 13 scalps in the 2020 edition and nine in 2021.

“Playing against the best players in the world and being constantly under pressure... those moments are great. I really enjoyed my moments at the T20 Blast as well this summer at Surrey. So, I am enjoying all those experiences. I’ve got some great players around the group.”

The IPL, Curran feels, tests a bowler differently. “It’s just a great tournament and has a great standard. It really tests you and those grounds are obviously very different to Australia. This is my first time really playing in Australia, so that’s been fun.”

“But yeah, any T20 cricket against the best players in the world will only make you stronger and you learn from your bad days and you get confidence on your good days.”

Curran exudes confidence ahead of another exciting and important week of the T20 World Cup. He wants to keep things simple and make an impact. Gone are the days when injuries forced him out of games. Curran has now learnt quite a few lessons in life and aims to implement those learnings on the pitch.

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