Sam Curran: A man with a purpose

“I’m an extremely competitive person,” says England all-rounder Sam Curran. “Anybody who knows me will tell you that I just really love winning.”

“I’m genuinely just enjoying my cricket,” says England all-rounder Sam Curran.   -  Getty Images

England all-rounder Sam Curran is a go-getter, itching to get involved in a contest. The 22-year-old has long been thought of as a potential star in English cricket and has shown the bravado and fortitude to match those expectations. Curran hounded the Indian team with his cameos when it toured England in 2018 for a Test series. Sportstar caught up with Curran ahead of the four-match Test series against Virat Kohli’s men in their backyard, which starts with the first Test in Chennai on February 5.

How do you see yourself as a complete package? You are an all-rounder, but is there any particular role you see yourself growing into?

I do see myself as an all-rounder. At the moment I’m genuinely just enjoying my cricket, and I always love contributing to winning games for my team, whether that is with bat or ball or in the field. In the future, I would love to become a top-six batsman and keep looking to improve my bowling to make me the best version I can be. I don’t like looking too far ahead.

 

You are touted as the next big thing in English cricket. Plenty is expected of you. As a youngster, does that feeling overwhelm you at times?

Haha! That’s a very big statement. As I said before, I’m just really trying to improve my game every day to become a better player. At the moment I’m really lucky to have played a number of games at the highest level, so that has given me great confidence and belief that I can perform at the top level. I’m not someone who likes to look too far ahead. I just generally like to take one game or one series at a time and am always looking to add things to my game and keep improving.

You were one of the lone bright spots for Chennai Super Kings in the last Indian Premier League season. In a historically successful franchise that was struggling for form, how did you keep your chin up?

I enjoyed my first season at the Chennai Super Kings; it wasn’t the best season for the team, but we kept fighting the whole way through and finished with three great wins to end the season. I enjoyed playing with so many great players and feel like I gained a lot of confidence from that tournament, which I can add to my T20 (Twenty20) game going forward.

Sam Curran likes to take one game or one series at a time and is always looking to add skills to his repertoire.   -  Getty Images

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How was the experience of playing under M. S. Dhoni?

It was amazing. To be able to play under one of the legends of the game was incredible. I enjoyed it. He was very welcoming from the start and made me at ease in the changing room. On the field he was really helpful, and I learnt a lot playing alongside him. He’s been there and done it, so sharing those moments with an absolute legend of the game was a great honour.

Players around the world are hopping from one bubble to another. Life in the bubble seems okay for a while, but over time does it become an existential threat?

It is a very different time in the world right now. Every player reacts differently to these bubbles. They are very challenging. At times, being away from your families, girlfriends, et cetera, for such long periods is tough. We are also very lucky to be able to play the game that we love during these times, and I hope we are putting smiles on the faces of people who are at home and staying safe. I do hope we can soon be back playing in front of fans.

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How do you cope with the bubble life? Before international cricket resumed, did you have any particular lockdown fears?

Lots of Xbox gets you through it. I enjoy playing games with my friends and having a bit of fun. Trying to keep busy and not spending too much time in your room. Go lay by the pool or play a board game. Just try and get my mind out of the mindset of being in a bubble as it can be tough mentally. The lockdown was the biggest break I’ve had, so it was about resting the body and maintaining fitness levels so when it did come back to playing competitive cricket again, I would be ready.

England’s next assignment is a five-match Test series in India’s backyard. There are many right-handers in India’s top order. Do you feel that your ability to swing the new ball, allied to your left-arm line, gives you an advantage here?

I haven’t played any red-ball cricket in India, so it’s going to be a very different challenge and something I’m excited about. I watch a lot of Test cricket in India on TV when they are playing, so I’m really looking forward to hopefully getting out there and getting in the nets and adapting to those conditions and taking on the challenge.

You’ve played more than twice as many Tests as One-Day Internationals and T20 Internationals at this point. In an age where youngsters generally tend to take the limited-overs route to stardom, this seems to be a bit of an anomaly. How do you assess your career graph so far?

I debuted in 2018 against Pakistan in Test cricket and have played a lot more of that format internationally since then. But I just think that’s how its worked out – you are always going to play more games in one format than others. I love all formats of the game. Any time you represent your country, it’s such a great feeling to walk out there and try and perform.

“I am trying to improve my game to take it to the next level, which will enable me to become very consistent and become a regular pick for England in all three formats,” says Sam Curran.   -  Getty Images

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What is your mindset and how do you prepare for different series and formats?

I always look ahead at the opposition that we are facing and try and come up with ways to beat them and train in ways that will help me perform against them. We play in many parts of the world, so I try and be very adaptable and try to work on all areas of my game, so when I do come across different conditions and teams, I am well-prepared for the challenge.

Is there some aspect of your game you have been working on in particular?

Not particularly. I just want to keep making sure that I’m always training with a purpose and trying to improve my game to take it to the next level, which will enable me to become very consistent and become a regular pick for England in all three formats of the game.

How do you handle pressure situations, as you seem to be a person who delivers when it matters?

For me, it’s self-belief. I’m an extremely competitive person. Anybody who knows me will tell you that I just really love winning. I grew up with two extremely competitive brothers and our garden cricket was of a high standard and [had] plenty of fights. I always love to be there in crunch situations. Those are the moments you want to be there in the action trying to win games for your team. I like to think I can win the game in all situations, with a never-give-up attitude.