Sam Curran, the young and energetic lad has a great future ahead of him…..
Two separate instances clearly announced the arrival of Sam Curran at Edgbaston on day 2 as India, after a dominant opening stand, crumbled to 160/6 by tea.
Curran, the third wheel in England’s illustrious fast bowling pack, had ripped apart India’s top three much to the annoyance of the visitors who had arrogantly jostled their way through James Anderson and Stuart Broad. Curran was set to bowl to that man, Virat Kohli, and with the crowd all behind the left-arm seamer, he jogged in and landed a bumper just outside Kohli’s off-stump. It wasn’t the ‘I am scary’ kind of bouncer, instead of more of a warning that he had a change-up ball just in case the Indian skipper had premeditated going forward. It set the tone for what was to be an enthralling battle between Kohli and the English seamers. But for Curran, it was a confidence ball. A delivery that showed he was in charge of the attack now. A delivery that showed he owned the pitch now. A delivery that showed he belonged!
Last ball before the tea break. Sam Curran, on four wickets now having trapped Hardik Pandya in front, walks back to his mark, turns around and signals to Joe Root with his five fingers raised up. The next moment an additional fielder was brought up to the cordon. No questions asked. No comments made. It was so instant from the English skipper that the sheer amount of confidence he had in his supposedly least threatening seam bowler was sky high by now. Ashwin nonchalantly pushed the ball to the off-side for a couple of runs but the moment marked Sam Curran’s coking of age. He had been a debatable inclusion ahead of the more exciting Jamie Porter but on day two, his sharp spells and well-plotted plans, more than his wickets, put him on a pedestal.
With England’s middle-order collapsing in a heap, the onus was on India’s batsmen to back up their bowlers and put up a noteworthy performance. Everything about the first half an hour screamed of India coming of age in these conditions. Murali Vijay played and missed a few, Shikhar Dhawan inside edged a lot more, but the duo survived a probing spell from James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
With each passing over, one could sense the frustration building in the English camp as their primary hunters looked to the skies to give them a breakthrough. Joe Root, though, looked elsewhere. Sam Curran was perhaps the least talked about of England’s bowling attack prior to the Test series.
He had made his debut when England last played – against Pakistan – and while he was impressive then, the focus always rested on Broad and Anderson. Add to that the recall of Adil Rashid and Curran was nearly forgotten until he strolled in and almost with the ease of plucking a flower sent back Murali Vijay with an inswinger that shaped back in late into the batsmen.
England were apprehensive about reviewing but Curran was pretty sure and the youngster was spot on. Two balls later he was jumping up and down in joy as KL Rahul chased a wide one and chopped back onto his stumps. Soon Dhawan was edging a really full ball into the cordon to give Curran his third wicket of the day.
For County fanatics and particularly for those who watched his sensational First-class debut against Kent three years back, Curran’s impressive spell was nothing but a usual spectacle. But for those glued to International cricket, Curran was just another left-arm seamer who had found his way past Indian batsmen’s defences.
Sam Curran has been faster than James Anderson today, and swung the ball 55% more. #ENGvIND
— The Cricket Prof. (@CricProf) August 2, 2018
Curran isn’t the most intimidating of fast bowlers going around. He is just five foot nine, bowls medium pace and could almost pass off as a part-timer bowling medium pacers close to a lunch break. He was easy to overlook particularly with an impressive elder brother, Tom Curran, memorably cleaning up Steven Smith during the Ashes.
Sam may not even be the best bowler in his family but on day 2 at Edgbaston nothing would stop him. Not even the fact that his skipper, despite him taking three wickets up front, was reluctant to give him a go against Kohli.
When he returned, the left-arm seamer was as sharp as ever. He kept moving the ball in while getting the odd one to hold its shape. Curran was perhaps fast-tracked into the side for his impact performances for Surrey and what the club saw in the 20-year old was evident when he tailed one back into Hardik Pandya and yorked him with the fullest ball he had received all day.
The ball from Sam Curran to dismiss Hardik Pandya was the fullest delivery the Indian faced in his entire innings. #ENGvIND pic.twitter.com/W1UM6dZ7Np
— The Cricket Prof. (@CricProf) August 2, 2018
It wasn’t merely a change-up ball from Curran. He had clearly noticed Pandya’s huge stride forward and was always setting him up for the full inswinger. In a picture-perfect execution, the youngster out-thought the highly regarded Indian all-rounder.
As he ended up with figures of 4/74, he became the youngest to register a four-wicket haul for England in Tests. Ben Stokes’ fiery spell, Virat Kohli’s epic hundred and James Anderson’s mind-blowing consistency could easily shift the limelight away from Curran. For a team that has relied on two illustrious bowlers to carry them right through the past decade, Curran’s emergence is refreshing. For starters, he offers a completely different angle to that of England’s other pace bowlers. The icing, though, is his innate ability to mark his presence in every game.
As Gareth Batty, his Surrey teammate once put it, “You see certain characters – you don’t get these sort of cricketers coming along very often – chucked in at a high level, and they just thrive in it.”
“Sam is one of those guys.” He is one of them now. One of the pack. One of England’s own.