If you’ve paid any attention to county cricket across the past three months, chances are you’ll have heard the name Sam Curran. At just 17-years-old, the left-arm seamer has broken into the Surrey side and prospered immediately. Many are suggesting him as a future England star, and it’s hard to disagree.
Still in full-time education at Wellington College, where he studies PE, Business Studies and Art, Curran first came into the Surrey side two weeks after his 17th birthday in a T20 Blast match against Kent. He bowled two overs for 20, and was dismissed for a nine-ball six as Surrey were defeated by 54 runs. It was an unspectacular debut, but a strong learning curve for the youngster. He had to wait only a week for his next game, and his first big statement. A-run-a-ball ten preceded an excellent three over spell of 3-17. Things only improved from there.
He made his Championship debut against Kent in mid-July and became the second youngest Surrey debutant in first-class cricket. He made much easier work of Kent than in his T20 debut. Opening the bowling, his fourth ball rearranged Joe Denly’s stumps, as he went on to become the youngest player to ever take a five-wicket haul in Championship cricket. Finishing with match figures of 8-120, Curran began to gather attention.
He followed that up with some fantastic List A performances, as he was instrumental in Surrey’s bid for the Royal London One-Day Cup, taking 15 wickets at 30. That included a 3-49 against Worcestershire, along with 2-54 in the semi-final against Nottinghamshire, in which he was on a hat-trick, after having had to request permission to have a day off of college.
That culminated in the chance to play in a Lord’s final. Though he didn’t pick up any Gloucestershire wickets and went for 32 in his six overs, his 37 runs batting at six almost took his side home. He refused to falter under immense pressure until the very end, keeping his head amidst tumbling wickets and an increasing run rate and was the only middle order batsman who seemed comfortable as tensions mounted.
After the match, skipper Gareth Batty suggested something pretty exciting, yet oddly terrifying about him. “I suppose most people have only really seen the bowling up until now but in his age group, he’s a batter – very much so and the bowling is maybe slightly secondary.”
239 runs in six Championship games at 47.8, including a half century in his final innings of the season against Northants, suggests that Batty is right, and we haven’t yet seen the full scope of his talents. However, when you see his bowling achievements thus far, it’s hard not to be afraid of what he can do.
From 23 matches in the senior side, he’s amassed 44 wickets, a feat which includes two five-wicket hauls in the Championship. Opening the bowling at 85 miles per hour, he’s proven himself a real threat to opening batsmen, with 17 of his wickets being openers.
As shown at Lord’s, his mentality is excellent. Batty was full of praise. “He’s somebody that we certainly need to look after, but you can see he’s got the temperament to take whatever’s thrown at him. He’s not fazed by a thing, which is very, very good to see.”
One punter suggested that Curran could soon break the late Brian Close’s record to become the youngest England Test player. Another described him as the “best 17-year-old [he’s] ever seen.
“And I saw a Root and Stokes at 17,” he goes on to say. “I’m scared of him.”
To break Close’s record, Curran would need to make his Test debut by the end of the 2016 summer. Talk of him breaking into this England side so soon is perhaps a little premature, and there is the risk that inclusion would result in a debut akin to Simon Kerrigan’s ill-fated solitary Test. Of course, should he continue in 2016 as he has this year, it may be hard to ignore his performances.
In the meantime, however, he’ll travel to Sri Lanka with the England Under-19s this winter and will be vying for a place in the squad for next year’s Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh.
At 17, most are focused on their A-Levels and their social life. At 17, I’m bringing you this article. At 17, Sam Curran is being talked about for England. He has a bright future, and if he continues as he has begun, it is impossible to predict what he will achieve.