‘There’s no ceiling for him’: How Sam Curran became England’s T20 future

Aafter the trophy had been handed out, the medals collected, the glitter cannons fired and the players’ families waved onto the pitch, England returned to their dressing room and the focus shifted. “One thing about our team is that when we work, we work hard,” Moeen Ali said. “And when we’re not working, we also relax well.”

Moeen was one of seven members of the squad to celebrate a second World Cup victory. For their coach, Matthew Mott, it was a fourth. “If you could lose that hour right after the game and have it for the rest of your life, you’d be pretty happy,” Mott said. “For a lot of people, especially after games like that, the relief is obvious. Once you get over it, it’s just pure joy. There was a lot of pressure going into the game and there was a big release after that. Everyone sat back and reflected a little and then the music came on and the guys who wanted to party partied and we all had a blast. This team knows how to party well.”

Pretty soon Jos Buttler was standing on a table, medal still hanging around his neck, playing air guitar on the trophy; within hours the International Cricket Council had taken the probably sensible decision to remove it and leave England with a copy. Through it all, one man was at the center of the action, the proverbial life and soul. After the group was asked to leave the MCG at At 1.30am he was the one who roared up and down the aisle for the team coach as it returned them to their hotel and led the chant. Once they arrived, before the players reassembled in a private room where the celebrations continued until seven in the morning, he made sure Mott kept his promise to shave his head if England won the World Cup.

Sam Curran has become a key figure in the England team in recent months, culminating in being named player of the match and tournament after they beat Pakistan in the final, and it appeared he had no intention of quitting just to the tournament had. “He loves the occasion,” Moeen said. “He loves the big time.”

Sam Curran celebrates the dismissal of Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan
Sam Curran celebrates the dismissal of Pakistan’s Mohammad Rizwan – his first of three in the final. Photo: Mark Baker/AP

Curran will be even harder to ignore in the coming days, assuming he fulfills his side of the bet with Mott and dyes his hair a color of the coach’s choosing. But that kind of superficial change seems unnecessary when, over the past two months, he’s already changed the way people view him. Curran made his T20 debut for England more than three years ago, but of all the matches in which he has taken two or more wickets, 67% have come in the last two months, and of those in which he has conceded fewer than seven runs. over 64% have come in the last two months. Having spent a third of England’s white-ball matches this summer on the sidelines, as he heads into winter, he is, unlike a drunken trophy, almost impossible to let go.

“There’s no ceiling for him,” Mott said. “I think his batting has got more into it too – he’s one of the sweetest timers of the ball we have and he’s a gun in the field as well. And apart from all the cricket, his character around the group is really infectious. He’s going to be a very, very good player for England and could go down as one of the great white balls in my opinion.”

Curran’s improvement appears to have coincided with the pre-tournament trip to Pakistan, and a conversation there with Buttler. “I think that trip really did me good,” he said. “Coming back from injury and getting six games out of seven gave me a lot of confidence. Jos sat me down to talk about where he sees my role, which was just making sure I’m available for all three phases of the game. Previously I probably bowled a lot more in the powerplay.”

Curran shows off his winner's medal
Sam Curran shows off his winner’s medal. Image: PA Wire/PA

Across the World Cup, Curran has been remarkably consistent in all phases of the game: two wickets in six overs in the powerplay (over one to six), costing 6.42 an over; nine wickets in 10.4 overs at the death (overs 16-20), costing 6.56 an over; and two wickets in five overs in between, costs 6.60. The only real blip on his stats is the single over in the semi-final against India from which Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya plundered 22. “He’s the kind of player there when it’s a big occasion, I think he loves it and he thrives,” said Moeen . “On the Pakistan tour he bowled a lot at the death and it just felt like, ‘This guy’s got something about him’.”

Now one of the things he has is a World Cup winner’s medal. “In the last couple of weeks I’ve actually been chatting to some of the boys who won it in 2019 and asked what it was like to win a World Cup,” said Curran. “They said it gives you that mood and how cool it is to say you’ve won a World Cup. I’m at a loss for words but to know that I’ve won a World Cup and been there – it gives you goosebumps, it’s incredible.”

Most of these players have been on the road for more than two months already, their road to the World Cup so long that when they eventually get home, Harry Brook will be going to a new house and Tymal Mills will be meeting his new baby. But no one’s life has changed as much during this tour as Sam Curran’s.

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