LONDON (AFP): Sam Curran’s career has been accompanied by talk about his supposed weaknesses, with many questioning whether the all-rounder was sufficiently quick as a bowler or good enough with the bat to succeed at international level.
Fortunately for both Surrey and England, Curran has ignored those voices to become one of the most valuable limited-overs performers in world cricket.
In his case, the 25-year-old Curran can point to a literal estimation of his worth, with Punjab Kings making him the most expensive purchase at an Indian Premier League auction when they acquired his services for about $2.25 million last year.
That eye-watering fee followed Curran’s starring role in England’s 2022 T20 World Cup triumph, when he took 13 wickets at 11.38 to be named player of the tournament, with his haul including a return of 3-12 in the final against Pakistan.
Curran was born into cricket.
His father, the late Kevin Curran, was a Zimbabwe all-rounder renowned for making the most of his ability and those competitive instincts have been passed on to the next generation, with both Sam and older brother Tom both having represented England.
Born in the central English town of Northampton — Kevin Curran played county cricket for Northamptonshire — Sam Curran made his name as a teenager when he took five wickets in his debut first-class innings, for Surrey against Kent at The Oval.
– ‘Incredible’ –
His lively left-arm swing bowling and ability to move the ball both ways were evident early on.
Surrey director of cricket Alec Stewart, a former England captain and not someone known for excessive praise, proclaimed: “Sam is the best 17-year-old cricketer that I have seen.
“You think that Chris Jordan or Graham Thorpe were good but the way he has taken to first-class cricket has been incredible.”
Still a teenager, Curran made his Test debut against Pakistan at Headingley in June 2018.
In his next Test he was named player of the match after four first-innings wickets and a counter-attacking fifty against India at Edgbaston.
A back injury ruled him out of the 2021/22 Ashes and still troubled him when England began their “Bazball” era — an attacking style of cricket to which Curran seems ideally suited — under red-ball coach Brendon McCullum and Test captain Ben Stokes last year.
But Curran has still amassed 26 ODI appearances. Figures of 383 runs at 23.93 and 28 wickets at 36.78 do not of themselves indicate a top-class performer.
They mask, however, Curran’s ability to alter the course of the game.
This was evident during this month’s second ODI against New Zealand at Southampton where, with England struggling at 103-6, Curran made 42 and shared a game-changing stand of 112 with Liam Livingstone in a match England eventually won by 79 runs.
Curran still sees himself having both a red-ball and white-ball England career, telling the London Evening Standard last month: “I just love playing cricket, love playing all formats.”
As for the upcoming World Cup, he added: “That’s a massive ambition, to win a 50-over World Cup with England.”