BIRMINGHAM: The victory tasted sweet for England, but there was more in store for them. The Lions unearthed a new hero in Sam Curran, whose allround performances won him the Man of the Match award on Saturday.
While Curran got five wickets with his left-arm swing bowling, his crucial contributions with the bat (24 and 63) went a long way in England winning this low-scoring Test match. “I don’t want him to blush too much but that was a fantastic performance to come into his second Test match under pressure and against the No. 1 Test team in the world. Obviously, it’s very exciting for us as a side going into a five-match series like that and it should fill him with a huge amount of confidence for the rest of this series,” skipper Joe Root said as the 20-year-old rookie sat beside him, trying to soak in the adulation.
According to the skipper, Curran has made some big contributions for his county side Surrey which made England think about drafting him into the national team. “Whenever you watch him operate on the field, he shows the desire and steeliness to be involved in the big occasions. And that obviously suits playing Test match cricket,” Root said, comparing Curran to Ben Stokes.
In fact, in the English circuit, everyone is looking at the Surrey boy as a good back-up for Stokes, who is also equally efficient both with the bat and the ball. “Yes, Stokesy is one of the guys I’ve looked up to. I want to have his passion, and, well, I’ve naturally got quite a bit of competitive spirit,” Curran said.
It was this competitive spirit that helped England at crucial junctures in the first Test. The fact that Curran lost his father Kevin, a former Zimbabwe player, when he was just 14, toughened him up at a very young age.
“It has been pretty tough. I was still young when it happened but I’ve got a very strong family. Both my brothers, we’re all very close, and my mum’s very supportive of all our cricket,” Curran said.
While his younger brother Tom is his Surrey teammate and has also played for Kolkata Knight Riders, Benjamin plays for Northants. “Well, I have grown up with two very competitive brothers in back-garden cricket. The ‘don’t-give-them anything’ spirit has probably come from there and I try to take that on to the pitch.”
That spirit was evident in the way he counter attacked Ashwin in the second innings to help England set a target for England that the bowlers could believe they could defend. But the mature Curran knows “there will be ups and downs” going forward in his career. “This was just my second game, and obviously there are going to be ups and downs. But I feel I have a strong enough character to deal with those.”