Published: 24th October, 2018
Even with just seven Specsavers County Championship appearances in the 2018 season, Sam Curran’s impact on Surrey’s title success should not be underestimated.
25 wickets and 209 runs in 10 innings don’t come close to telling the story of the spells in which the all-rounder galvanised his teammates and became the key figure as England defeated the best Test side in the world.
His first ever 10-wicket haul came in the May clash with Yorkshire and set an unstoppable juggernaut off that carried Surrey all the way to their 20th County Championship trophy.
The change of angle provided by his left arm and his natural ability to swing it both ways makes Curran the perfect candidate to open up with the new ball. That immediately became apparent at the start of the season with five wickets against Hampshire but it was the next home victory in which he most stood out with the ball.
The Academy graduate took 10 wickets for just 101 runs in the match as an innings victory was recorded that became the first of Surrey’s nine wins in a row that sealed the title.
They weren’t just as any names either. Here’s the list in chronological order; Adam Lyth, Cheteshwar Pujara, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Tim Bresnan, Josh Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Tim Bresnan, Steven Patterson & Josh Shaw.
In terms of his batting by this point in the campaign, it was his dogged match-saving effort at Lancashire in blustery late April Manchester conditions that most stood out for a batsman usually known for his attacking strokeplay.
That aspect of his batting was to impress in front of the watching world once Curran was in his England whites.
So, to the Test arena. His debut came at Headingley on the 1st June as he took only two wickets and scored 20 runs in an innings victory. There was a wait then until the summer’s main event; a five-match series with India.
In the opener, he was the undoubted Man of the Match as he stood up to be counted with the bat – scoring 87 runs from eight in a low scoring match – and grasped the nettle with ball to claim five wickets including four of India’s top five and all-rounder Hardik Pandya.
Despite a quieter second Test, he was still extremely unlucky to be dropped for the third match and when India emerged victorious; England noticed their mistake.
124 runs came from Curran’s bat at the Ageas Bowl as England looked to be slipping to disappointing totals in both innings. This match was also Curran’s first chance to celebrate the dismissal of talismanic Indian captain Virat Kohli when Alastair Cook held on in the slip cordon.
Another victory and solid Sam showing followed in the emotional final Test at the Kia Oval before Sam’s contributions saw him announced the Player of the Series.
At the close of that final Test, Kohli said: “There’s a reason why we voted for Sam as Man of the Series. Coming in at that stage in the batting order and with the ball as well he made very important contributions. The first and fourth Tests were massive and he made big plays in both of those.
It takes character to come in and play like that so he deserves the award that he got. He put England in front in both of those matches and that’s something we can learn from.”
A ringing endorsement if ever there was one.
Once named Player of the Series, Sam didn’t again feature for Surrey but was at Worcester to join in the celebrations. He has now been offered his first Test contract, which suggests he is likely to be a regular for the national side in the coming year.
Come back tomorrow as we take a closer look at how the returning hero Rikki Clarke influenced the title success.