Dubai: When Indian team were doing their homework for the Test series against England, they would not have expected that a 20-year-old would make the difference with both bat and ball.
Sam Curran, who stole the thunder with valuable knocks in lower order and timely wickets, showed that he has already the skills of a world class cricketer.
He may have played in only four Test matches and one One Day International so far, but is sure to be one of England’s most valuable players in the coming years.
Surrey’s director of cricket and former England captain Alec Stewart even remarked that Sam was the best 17-year-old cricketer that he had ever seen.
For those who wonder as to how Sam created such an impact at a very young age, the answer lies in the fact that cricket runs in his blood.
He is the son of the late Zimbabwe player Kevin Curran, a right-arm fast-medium bowler and middle-order batsman who played in 11 One Day Internationals.
Kevin had played a vital role in Zimbabwe’s sensational victory over Australia in the 1983 World Cup.
He later went on to become the coach of the Zimbabwe team but died at the age of just 53 while jogging in Harare in 2012.
At the time of his death, Kevin had guided all his three sons into cricket and his eldest son Tom was already playing for Surrey second XI while Sam had bagged the Zimbabwe’s junior cricketer of the year award in 2011 and also played for Zimbabwe Under-13 team. His third son Benjamin, too, played for Nottinghamshire second XI.
Kevin had completed the 10-year qualification needed for England residency just before Zimbabwe earned Test status. Sam was born in Northampton and played for Surrey Under-15, Under-17 and their second XI team.
So impressive was Sam’s performance that Surrey’s director of cricket and former England captain Alec Stewart even remarked that he is the best 17-year-old cricketer that he has ever seen.
A 17-year-old Sam, despite having to balance schoolwork with cricket, went on to become the second youngest player after Tony Lock to make his first class debut for the county.
Legendary Sri Lankan cricketer Kumar Sangakkara, who played alongside Sam for Surrey, referred to him as a “shy young man with enormous talent” while commentating for Sky Sports.
Sam’s consistency saw him making the England Under-19 team and played in the 2016 ICC Under-19 World Cup. He also toured the UAE with the England Lions team in 2016.
Within two years, and at the age of 19 years and 363 days, Sam made his Test debut against Pakistan at Headingley in June, 2018.
When India arrived for the ongoing series, Sam had played only in his debut Test match in which he took one wicket and scored 20 runs.
In his second Test, he stunned India with a spell of four for 74 and lifted England from a batting collapse in the second innings with a fighting knock of 63 and bagged the Man of the Match award.
It was his knocks of 78 and 46, respectively, in the fourth Test at Southampton that gave England the runs to defeat India and win the series.
When asked about his performance, Sam had humbly remarked it is surreal to have played with his childhood heroes Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad.
He also remarked that when Virat Kohli had pulled out of playing for Surrey, he was disappointed at missing the chance of playing with him but instead got to bowl at him in Tests soon.