England v India Test - Men's
Age no barrier for 'steely' Curran
Twenty-year-old becomes youngest Englishman to earn player-of-the-match award, earning high praise from teammates
AFP & Cricket Network
5 August 2018, 09:59 AM AEST
Sam Curran said the experience of losing his father as a teenager and playing cricket with his brothers lay behind his leading role in England's dramatic 31-run win in the first Test against India at Edgbaston.
Curran, in just his second Test, starred with both bat and ball as England won with more than a day to spare on Saturday.
The 20-year-old is the youngest Englishman to be named player-of-the-match in a Test – Charlotte Edwards remains the country's youngest ever having collected the award aged just 18, while Sachin Tendulkar is overall record holder having been the standout player in the 1990 Manchester Test aged 17.
Youngest to get player-of-the-match award for England in Tests: Woman: Charlotte Edwards (18y 235d) Man: Sam Curran (20y and 62d)— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) August 4, 2018
Curran took a Test-best 4-74 in India's first innings 274. He then made a dashing 63, his maiden Test fifty, to take England from a dire 87 for seven in their second innings to a total of 180 all out.
It meant England were able to set a target of 194, which proved beyond India, who were bowled out for 162.
Ben Stokes led the way on Saturday with a haul of 4- 40 that included the prize scalp of India captain Virat Kohli for 51 after the star batsman had made 149, his maiden Test century in England, in the tourists' first innings.
But without fellow allrounder Curran's contribution, England may well have lost their 1,000th Test match.
Curran was just 14 when his father Kevin Curran, the former Zimbabwe all-rounder, died after collapsing while jogging in 2012.
Both Sam and his brother Tom have gone on to represent England, while their other brother, Ben, is on the books of Northamptonshire.
"It has been pretty tough," Sam Curran told reporters when asked about the death of his father.
"I was still young when it did happen, 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. I think it made us stronger as a family and me stronger as a person."
Asked where his will to win came from, Curran replied: "I think I've learned that as I've grown up, with two very competitive brothers in the back-garden cricket... 'Don't give them anything!', and I try to take that on to the pitch."
England captain Joe Root added there were similarities between Curran and Stokes beyond the fact they were lively pacemen and hard-hitting batsmen.
"Whenever you watch him (Curran) operate on the field he has this desire and steeliness within him which is similar to Ben - he wants to be involved in the big occasions," Root explained.
"That obviously suits playing in Test match cricket and you’ve seen that throughout this game.
"That was a fantastic performance to come into his second Test match under pressure and against the number one Test team in the world and play like that.
"It's like having two Ben Stokes, which is a great thing."
Stuart Broad was similarly lavish in his praise for the youngster, writing in his Daily Mail column: "I’ve always believed that the single most important quality of a Test cricketer is his character, and Sam Curran has it in spades.
"Runs and wickets are important, obviously, but the ability to step up when your team needs you most is invaluable, and Sam did it twice in this game. And don’t forget it was only his second Test."