Sam Curran emerges from his brothers’ shadows with four-wicket burst

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Sam Curran took four wickets against India to give England a huge boost in the first Test


A few months ago, the idea that a Curran would take four wickets in India’s first innings would not have been considered too outrageous – but the money would have been on Tom, not Sam. However, at Edgbaston, England were grateful for the plot twist.

When Tom, the eldest of three brothers – middle sibling Ben currently plays for Northamptonshire Seconds – made his Test debut at Melbourne on Boxing Day, it was generally agreed he was a chip off the old block. 

His late father Kevin had been a combative all-rounder for Zimbabwe, Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire, and Tom – 6ft 1in, blond and full of aggression – looked like he had inherited his dad’s love of the fray.

Sam Curran took four wickets against India to give England a huge boost in the first Test

Sam Curran took four wickets against India to give England a huge boost in the first Test

Curran, 20, was often overlooked compared to his two brothers, but proved his worth here

Curran, 20, was often overlooked compared to his two brothers, but proved his worth here

Curran, 20, was often overlooked compared to his two brothers, but proved his worth here

Curran - just five foot nine and playing in his second Test - tortured India with his swing

Curran - just five foot nine and playing in his second Test - tortured India with his swing

Curran – just five foot nine and playing in his second Test – tortured India with his swing

MATCH FACT

149 – The number of runs Virat Kohli has scored this series in just one innings. This is already more than the 134 he scored across 10 innings when India last toured England in 2014.

But Sam has always been easy to overlook. Five foot nine, only just out of his teens, and with his low-slung left-armers, he appeared less of a prospect. Tom, it is said by those who know the Currans, was Kevin’s blue-eyed boy. Even Ben, the middle brother, was regarded as a decent bet for a cricket career.

As for Sam, he was – according to a family friend – ‘a little after-thought, the under-sized one constantly trying to prove himself and get his dad’s attention’. Kevin, who died six years ago aged 53 while out on a jog, would have loved the progress his youngest has made.

In fact, Sam Curran was in the thick of the things years before he lit up his second Test appearance with the wickets of India’s top three – Murali Vijay, KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan – inside eight balls.

Curran follows his older brother, Tom, who played for England in the Ashes last winter

Curran follows his older brother, Tom, who played for England in the Ashes last winter

Curran follows his older brother, Tom, who played for England in the Ashes last winter

Sam is the youngest son of former Zimbabwe cricketer Kevin, and made his father proud

Sam is the youngest son of former Zimbabwe cricketer Kevin, and made his father proud

Sam is the youngest son of former Zimbabwe cricketer Kevin, and made his father proud

On his first-class debut against Kent at the age of 17, he shared the new ball with Tom, took a wicket with his fifth delivery, and finished with five in the innings and eight in the match.

Earlier this season, against Yorkshire at The Oval, he struck some more significant blows, taking 10 wickets in the match, including Joe Root lbw for 14.

For the England captain, a seed was sewn. Having lost the Ashes with a battery of right-arm seamers, Tom included, Root noted the value of Sam’s left-arm in-swing. Above all, he wanted variety.

A quiet Test debut followed against Pakistan at Headingley, where Stuart Broad felt Curran struggled slightly with the slope, but match figures of seven for 60 for England Lions against India A at Worcester confirmed his match-winning potential.

Curran took the first three India wickets within eight balls, first clean bowling Murali Vijay

Curran took the first three India wickets within eight balls, first clean bowling Murali Vijay

Curran took the first three India wickets within eight balls, first clean bowling Murali Vijay

Some wondered whether Essex’s prolific seamer Jamie Porter should have been given his Test debut here at Edgbaston, but Curran’s batting ability – he has a first-class average of 27 – and that left-arm angle won the day.

That quality was immediately obvious after India’s openers had made an impressive start to their reply on the second morning. In his third over, Curran produced the left-armer’s dream, swinging one back into the pads of Vijay – the only surprise being that England had to resort to Hawk-Eye to confirm their success.

Two balls later, Curran lured Rahul into an optimistic drive, and jumped for joy as an inside edge ricocheted back on to the stumps.

His spell read three wickets for eight runs in eight balls when the left-handed Dhawan drove at one that swung away from him and edged low to Malan at second slip.

Two balls later, Curran had the stumps flying again as he dismissed India's No 3 KL Rahul

Two balls later, Curran had the stumps flying again as he dismissed India's No 3 KL Rahul

Two balls later, Curran had the stumps flying again as he dismissed India’s No 3 KL Rahul

From 50 without loss, India had tumbled to 59 for three, and only the skill and bloody-mindedness of Virat Kohli, plus some shoddy slip catching by England, kept things on an even keel.

But Curran was not finished. With the sixth-wicket stand worth an annoying 48, he pinned Hardik Pandya on the boot with a full in-swinger. Pandya seemed so flummoxed he asked for a review, presumably in the belief he had hit it first. Technology sealed his fate.

Significantly, Curran was also reaching 85mph on the speedgun. When he made his one-day debut against Australia at Old Trafford in June, there were one or two grumbles that he was too small and too slow.

Instead, Curran was quicker than Anderson and – according to stats experts CricViz – found 55 per cent more swing. Whatever that means, it was a decent effort on the kind of cloudy afternoon which usually has Anderson licking his lips.

These are early days for Curran, but this one was productive enough for Sky Sports to point out an anomaly: no England left-arm seamer has taken 100 Test wickets. If Curran keeps swinging it, history should one day be his.

Curran's blistering three wickets in eight balls spell ended when Shikhar Dhawan was caught

Curran's blistering three wickets in eight balls spell ended when Shikhar Dhawan was caught

Curran’s blistering three wickets in eight balls spell ended when Shikhar Dhawan was caught

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