At the Wankhede Stadium on an April evening in 2019, Kieron Pollard was on a stampede. Every time Sam Curran, then just 20, ran to bowl, the next six coming on could almost feel. Six of Pollard’s 10 sixes came off a medium pace delivery from Curran’s left arm, which cost 54 runs in four overs.
This was Curran’s first Indian Premier League season for the then Kings XI Punjab and though he worked hard, he did not have the pace and variety to escape punishment on a small ground.
Made in T20 World Cup after three years EnglandGo-to death bowler, conceding only 34 runs in 41 balls in the final four-over phase. In a game of needed wins against New Zealand and Sri Lanka, Curran bowled two poor overs each at death, taking the crucial wicket of Glenn Phillips and conceding a solitary boundary in those four overs, that too on the inside edge of Wanindu Hasaranga. So well he has made the transition from the swing bowler of the Powerplays to a versatile T20 operator that he has kept veteran death overs specialist Chris Jordan out of the England XI.
Sam Curran of England appeals for a wicket during the T20 World Cup cricket match between England and New Zealand in Brisbane, Australia, Tuesday, November 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Tertius Picard)
Curran spent a few seasons here Chennai The Super Kings after his debut year in Kings XI, and their bowling coach there, former India pacer L Balaji, are “not at all surprised” at how much he has improved.
“Because more than a bowler or a batsman, I have admired him as captaincy material. That kind of personality was always bound to improve in the rest of cricket,” added Balaji. Indian ExpressRemembering how eager the all-rounder would be to contribute to team meetings.
“At CSK, along with MS Dhoni and other stalwarts of the team, he will boldly raise his hand and contribute meaningfully to team meetings. He used to debate the plans of various batsmen, even who should bowl when, and was always very keen on cricket chats. I think Dhoni valued and liked that attitude in Curran and quietly guided him. ,
Balaji said that in the UAE leg of IPL 2021, Curran had some expensive games going for 55 and 56. But he will be back in the nets with the zeal to work to get better, Balaji said.
“Yes, he played some big overs in a few matches (at CSK), but immediately saw how to improve. He has conceded runs but that nature means he hits the nets with great ambition to either improvise the idea or come up with a new idea in the next game. As in either improve the ball so that he can score off-the-beaten-track runs or come up with a new option. ,
“He would get very upset initially on days like that and would say to me, ‘Oh! Why did I bowl that ball in that position? I shouldn’t have.’ If I thought the ball was fine, but the execution probably wasn’t, he would listen carefully. On the next match day, he would try that ball again, and come back with a smile.
“He is a quick learner and always asks questions, but just because I am the bowling coach is not the type to blindly follow him. He asks the question: ‘Why should I do this? How will the angle in that particular ball help me? Isn’t it better that I go closer or farther away from the stumps, as the case may be?’ When he is convinced with the answer, he will hit the nets with great enthusiasm.
Sam Curran of England tries to stop the ball from crossing a rope during the T20 World Cup cricket match between England and Ireland in Melbourne, Australia on Wednesday, October 26, 2022. (AP photo/Asanka Brendan Ratnayake)
back with a vengeance
Curran missed the 2021 T20 World Cup due to a back stress fracture and was also ruled out of the IPL auction this year to focus on his recovery.
After making a comeback against India in July, he did well on the Pakistan tour and against Australia in October to make it to England’s T20 World Cup XI.
During his rehab, Curran worked hard on his fitness, which helped him add some momentum. “I just got a little stronger during my injury, and yes, I think (after the break), came back refreshed and eager and ready, a lot of energy… I also feel that sprinting to the side Has really convinced me,” Curran had said after taking 5 for 10 against Afghanistan in Perth.
“These Australian decks are, obviously, my first time playing here as well, so I’m really enjoying the bounce and the pace, and you can obviously get used to the dimensions of the field as well.”
The conditions and increased power have also made Curren’s bouncer more effective, and his slower ball has in turn become a more powerful variation. Balaji explained how much effort Kuren had put in to develop different types of bouncers in his arsenal.
“I remember he wanted to master the slow bouncer, for example. He figured with the dimensions of the field – he’s always studying them and you can see it in his bowling on different grounds – a slow bouncer Always a good weapon. How hard he worked on that for hours! He also likes his fast bouncer and always tests the batsmen,” said Balaji.
“A definite area of improvement is how well he uses the crease these days. If there is no swing on offer, he will immediately go round the stumps. The angles of their release, both side and round, are always different; Small tweaks but effective. ,
An example of this came against Sri Lanka, when Curran opened the 19th over towards Hasaranga. But when he saw the batsman trying to reach the wide line, he went close to the stumps and bowled a yorker at Hasranga’s feet.
According to Balaji, Curran has used wide yorkers to good effect in this tournament, a ball that is difficult to control with his action. “With his goal-armish action, the wide out-off yorker was always going to be a tricky ball to master. But he worked hard at it. It’s no surprise that all these little changes – angles, different deliveries are totally happening now.”
According to CricViz, Curran has been bowling with more slow deliveries and bouncers, and is attacking the stumps more this year than even in 2021. Curran has said that he is trying to be as adaptable as possible, but is also fully aware that this is a format that will have days when nothing will work out. With this flexibility to adapt as well as always being in the fight, Curran has been marked for big things ever since he was named Player of the Series against India in a five-Test contest in England in 2018. .
“He is fantastic. I like his mindset,” England white-ball captain Jos Buttler said of Curran. ‘He always wants to bowl tough overs. He wants to take wickets. I guess you forget. no matter how small he is – we will see him grow from strength to strength.”
Balaji agrees, and also mentions Karan’s ability with the bat; He averages around 25 in Tests and strikes more than 135 in T20Is. “He is the type who wants to bowl or bat under pressure. I think he is a tremendous talent with the bat and it is only because of England’s long batting that he is batting less,” Balaji said. “With other teams, I can easily see him batting high. He wants it. Very, very curious. ,
While Curran has said that playing under pressure in the IPL has helped him progress, Balaji also talks about how the support from CSK’s fans has boosted him.
“It also helped that he was much loved by the CSK fans. They kept calling him ‘Kadai Kutti Singham’ (the smallest lion cub). Imagine, you are a young boy coming from England and far away The country is being loved by fans. These little intangible things add to the overall confidence.”
On Thursday, however, a confident Curran will have to do without the support of CSK fans in the semi-final against India at the Adelaide Oval.
With inputs from Sriram Veera