It was Day 2 of the 1st Test between England and India in Edgbaston in 2018.
The sun was playing hide and seek throughout the morning session. James Anderson and Stuard Broad went about their business. But, India successfully negated the duo and completed a 50 run partnership at the loss of no wicket.
England needed wickets, and they needed them quickly. A 19-year-old left-arm seamer, playing only in his second Test match took matters into his own hands. In a span of 8 balls, he picked up three wickets with peaches of deliveries that were templates for Test match bowling. The boy wonder was Sam Curran.
To come into a heavyweight series such as England versus India and create a massive impact was an exceptional feat by Sam Curran. In addition to his attractive swing bowling, it was his batting which played a colossal role in the series. He ended the series with 272 runs and 11 wickets.
Curran rescued England from two top-order collapses in Edgbaston and Southampton with his counter-attacking approach. Such was Curran's presence, that England faced defeat in the only match in which he was dropped from the side. Quite aptly, Sam Curran was the Maof the Series.
There is something about Sam Curran that is so special. He walks on to the field with a 'there is nothing I can't do' attitude. The belief in his ability is probably one of his biggest strengths. His first wicket in the Edgbaston test was initially given not out by the on-field umpire. But, Sam Curran convinced his captain Joe Root to use a review.
If the referral had turned out unsuccessful, Sam Curran would have been given a earful from his captain. But Curran knew he was not going to burn that opportunity.
Root, in the post-match interview at Edgbaston, said, "It was like having two Ben Stokes in the side with Sam Curran."
That cannot be just another compliment for Curran. Sam Curran, with his exploits, featured in Tests for England for a significant part of his first year as an English cricketer after his debut in 2018
England has never had a drought for fast bowlers since James Anderson made his debut. Complementing him, Stuart Broad has just been exceptional with the red cherry. The partnership of Anderson-Broad was so good that any new fast bowler joining the side was expected to play more of a supporting role to the two heavyweights.
On most occasions, Broad and Anderson always found a spot in the team while others had to fight for the two places, or sometimes one, on turning tracks.
Jofra Archer obtained clearance to play international cricket for England in 2019. With Anderson and Broad already at the helm of things, Archer's raw pace was just the thing required to complete England's pace battery.
English selectors picked Archer to be a part of England's best XI for the upcoming Ashes in 2019. Sam Curran turned out to be the scapegoat, who got dropped ahead of the series.
Sam Curran and Chris Woakes were fast bowling all-rounder options, who were rotated when one among the trio of Broad, Anderson, and Archer got injured or the team needed an extra fast bowler. English selectors had a new headache on how to fit Sam Curran into the side.
Sam Curran spent most of the 2019 Ashes on the bench. He was a part of the final Test, in which he picked 3 wickets in the first innings, putting Australia in an uncomfortable position and handing England a handy first innings lead. England ended up winning the Test.
This win added to the tally of 7 home Tests that England won by England when Sam Curran was in the starting XI. There was no doubt that Curran added value to the England Test side.
As part of rotational squads, Sam Curran was a part of England's ODI and T20 sides following the Ashes. Even though Sam Curran found limited success in T20is and ODIs, he is still looked at as a brilliant hitter of the cricket ball as he has been indispensable for Surrey over the years.
Among the regulars in the England side, Sam Curran has failed to make a name for himself. But, whenever he has been a part of the XI, be it any format, he has always come good for England.
Sam Curran – The IPL presence
Kings XI Punjab bought Sam Curran in the auction for the 2019 season for a mammoth sum of 7.2 crores. He had one good innings with both bat and ball when he picked up a hat-trick against the Delhi Capitals to help Punjab win from out of nowhere.
Against Kolkata, he scored a brisk 55 off just 24, but this was in vain as Punjab couldn't convert his innings into a win. Whenever Sam Curran batted higher up the order, his scoring rate was very high, serving as evidence of his hard-hitting prowess. He even opened the innings on one occasion.
With the ball, Curran bowled in different situations with ease and provided decent results. Experts of the game lauded Sam Curran for the versatility he brought to the table. More clarity on his role in the team would have extracted more from Sam Curran during his times at Kings XI Punjab.
After bagging another hefty IPL contract, Sam Curran has been the lone spark for CSK in the 2020 season. With 173 runs and 13 wickets, he has been the only all-rounder to achieve a double of 150 runs and 10 wickets so far this season.
Asked to bat at various positions, even opening the batting on a few occasions, Sam Curran has enjoyed striking the ball and scoring runs for his team. Sam Curran has gained his captain's trust by bowling whenever the team needs him. All in all, quoting MS Dhoni, "He has been a complete cricketer for CSK."
— Chennai Super Kings (@ChennaiIPL) October 23, 2020
To answer the question of where Sam Curran fits in, he fits in everywhere. If the team decides to pick him after a lengthy spell on the bench, Curran shows no signs of rustiness and contributes effectively.
If the team fears they have overplayed Curran, he dismisses those fears and puts on match-winning performances. Ask him to open the batting? He will. Play the finishers' role? He will.
Another addition to his already overflowing armory is his death bowling. In the 2nd ODI against Australia in 2020, he had to bowl 6 overs on the trot at the death. Sam Curran did not disappoint as he picked 3 wickets to push England to a comeback victory. So, death bowling? Yes.
Cricketers like Sam Curran are too valuable to let go. With the talent English cricket can boast of at the moment, it is tough to fit Sam Curran into the side. However, with Sam Curran being so flexible and playing different roles, it should not be too difficult to give him a chance should England need a replacement.
A man for all formats and all roles, Sam Curran certainly fits in everywhere.