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‘It’s been difficult’: Sam Curran eager to offer England more at T20 World Cup
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‘It’s been difficult’: Sam Curran eager to offer England more at T20 World Cup

Sam Curran will collect an MBE when he gets back to the UK after the men’s T20 World Cup, the all‑rounder ­having been recognised in the king’s birthday honours last year for his starring role in England securing the trophy in late 2022.

This time around, however, ­Curran is battling to make the XI, with his one-off outing in the crucial 41-run victory against Namibia on Saturday coming about only after rain and the resulting 10-over match forced England to rejig their strategy. As a fiercely competitive player it is, needless to say, not exactly to his liking.

“It’s been hard, to be honest … very difficult,” Curran said, as ­England trained before their first Super Eight match against West Indies in St Lucia on Wednesday. “I feel like England is a team I’ve done really well for … but it shows the strength of our squad at the moment.

“I know I’m going to get that opportunity in the next – ­hopefully – six games. Maybe it will be the World Cup final [on 29 June]. I’ll have two days of good training here and if I get in that XI, I’ll be trying to make sure I stay in it.”

Curran was named player of the tournament in the previous men’s T20 World Cup in Australia, with his proficiency at the death something of a revelation. Armed with slower‑ball bouncers, cutters and yorkers – all enhanced by that left-arm angle and waspish hustle into the crease – nine of his 13 wickets came in the final five overs. An overall economy of 6.5 runs per over was like gold dust for Jos Buttler.

A tough time followed, however, during England’s 3-2 defeat by West Indies in the Caribbean last winter when Curran went at nearly 12 runs per over overall and 18 at the death. Though an ever-present for Punjab Kings in the high-scoring Indian Premier League this year, ­captaining and even batting middle order, he slid on to the substitutes’ bench for this global tournament.

Sam Curran catches during a nets sessionView image in fullscreen

It may be that the wider square boundaries in Australia two years ago was key to his success, or a case of opponents getting a better read on his variations. He has certainly been one of the most familiar faces on the T20 circuit in recent times, playing 113 matches for six teams over the past two years, second only to Australia’s globe­trotting finisher Tim David on 128.

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Curran said: “I’ve played so much cricket over the last 12 months, sometimes when I’m on the sidelines it’s a good opportunity to be refreshed and work on a bit of technique. I’ve tried not to get too down. There’s nothing worse than when you get left out and you’re not ready [to play again].

“I’ve got to keep that mindset. It’s just great to be at a World Cup again, I’ve got some great memories, so I’ll just stay positive.”

While that comeback last ­weekend was scenario-specific, the 12 balls Curran did send down – costing just 13 runs and slamming the brakes on Namibia’s chase – may yet force a rethink. Coming into the side for Will Jacks, the restructure pushed Jonny Bairstow and Harry Brook a spot higher each – a better fit for both, one suspects – and offered Buttler a fourth frontline seam option.

At the spruced-up Daren Sammy Cricket Ground, which boasts the truest pitch in the Caribbean, not to mention the starburst outfield pattern that catches the eye, it may be tempting to retain this structure, or restore Jacks and draft Curran in for Liam Livingstone. The ­latter is ­battling a side strain – he left ­training early on Monday – although a seam‑bowling all-rounder could be the play regardless.

Source: theguardian.com