England all-rounder Sam Curran picked up three wickets in the first T20I against South Africa off the back of an impressive IPL season
Jonny Bairstow excelling in England’s run chase in the first T20 international against South Africa meant Sam Curran’s efforts with the ball were relegated from top billing.
The left-armer had been the pick of the England attack in Cape Town, with his bouncers and pace-off deliveries bringing him three wickets for 28 runs across his four-over allocation.
Curran had Temba Bavuma caught behind on the scoop in the first over after taking the new ball and then returned with canny change-ups to account for South Africa top-scorer Faf du Plessis and Heinrich Klaasen.
- Jonny Bairstow powers England to victory over South Africa
- First T20I scorecard
S Africa vs England
November 29, 2020, 12:00pm
Get Sky Sports Get a Sky Sports pass
“Any time you are asked to take the new ball in a T20 game it is a really great responsibility to take. I knew I had to set the tone from ball one and getting a wicket in the first over was really pleasing,” Curran told reporters ahead of Sunday’s second match in Paarl, live on Sky Sports from 12pm.
“I thought it was a really nice performance – I just used my different variations and skills that I have been working on and luckily enough it came out all right. The competition is really good so when you’re in the team, you have to take your opportunities.”
It’s a great environment to learn and pick the brains of the experienced players. Me as a younger player, who has only played a handful of games so far, it’s about keeping trying to learn, take my opportunities when they do come and try to enjoy it.
Taking his opportunities is something the 22-year-old had done regularly since making his England debut in a Test match against Pakistan in June 2018.
Later that summer he was named Player of the Series against India, with his lower-order runs and 11 wickets crucial in earning his side victory in a series much closer than the 4-1 scoreline suggested.
Curran was described as “phenomenal” by Sky Sports’ Nasser Hussain after the first Test, having bagged four wickets in India’s first innings and then rallied England from 87-7 to 180 all out in their opening knock in a game they went on to win. Not bad for a bloke playing only his second Test.
There have been other star turns since then from Curran, though he has never quite been able to nail down a permanent spot in the Test XI when everyone else has been available. Just where does he fit in?
The pick of the action as Jonny Bairstow’s unbeaten 86 underpinned England’s five-wicket win over South Africa
That has also been the case in white-ball cricket – but further performances like the one he delivered in Cape Town on Friday night will make him pretty difficult to shift.
The consensus was that the all-rounder was preferred to Moeen Ali when England came to selecting the team, leaving Adil Rashid as the sole spinner.
Rashid and Moeen are likely to be reunited during next year’s T20 World Cup in India but Curran has certainly staked a claim to stay in the side as the third seamer, probably behind Jofra Archer and Chris Jordan, who look secure in their places.
Sam bowled beautifully with his cutters from around the wicket. He sized up the conditions very quickly, tucking the batsman up and taking pace off. He is a very cute and canny bowler; he knows exactly what he’s doing.
Mike Atherton on Sam Curran
- Jonny Bairstow not ‘disgruntled’ about being moved to No 4
- Michael Atherton: Jonny Bairstow showed craft and forceful flair
Curran certainly proved he can be a threat on subcontinental pitches during the recently-concluded Indian Premier League in the United Arab Emirates, where he picked up 13 wickets in 14 games while being an ever-present for Chennai Super Kings – in addition to scoring 186 runs, many of then after being promoted up the order.
Curran took 13 wickets and scored 186 runs for Chennai Super Kings in the 2020 Indian Premier League
The seamer is not sure how much his IPL form has boosted his chances of becoming an England regular – but is adamant the tournament has made him a better player.
“I really enjoyed the IPL, I feel like I have taken my game to a different standard in terms of my learnings from that tournament.
“I will definitely take a lot away from playing in that group and [from being] with the coaching staff in Chennai.
“I feel my game has improved since I went there. Hopefully, I can keep improving and become a regular for England.”
They are always going to be a very good side, South Africa, – they have got some very dangerous game-changers, match-winning players. We are definitely prepared for that. They batted really well and bowled well in different scenarios so it was a good game of cricket. Thankfully we had Jonny, it was a pretty special knock.
Sam Curran on South Africa
Sam’s success with the ball at Newlands was not replicated by sibling Tom, whose four overs were taken for 55 runs – 24 of them coming off Du Plessis’ bat in one over – as he recorded his most expensive figures in the format before bowling South Africa debutant George Linde with his final delivery.
However, little brother expects big brother to bounce back if selected on Sunday, when England will be looking to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
Tom Curran suffered a chastening experience in Cape Town on Friday night with his four overs taken for 55 runs
Curran added: “T20 is a very strange game. You can bowl well and still get hit for a lot of runs and bowl badly and get loads of wickets. As bowlers, we all know that.
“Tom is very competitive, a relaxed guy and he will definitely move on pretty quickly. The fact we have won makes it a lot nicer feeling for the bowling group. I am sure we will all be fired up to go again come Sunday.”
Watch the second T20 international between South Africa and England, in Paarl, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 12pm on Sunday.