Sam Curran, who has had an inconsistent career, feels that he must ’ stop being the one who is vulnerable.’ Although he has scored more than 30 in 11 Tests on an average and taken 21 wickets at 29, Curran was overlooked four times in less than a year following his debut, following a summer when he was also named the series’ player during England’s home series against India.
After his debut, the left-arm pacer was not considered owing to his lack of pace, which cost him against the West Indies. He was overlooked in the Ashes, though his angle as a left-arm bowler could have troubled an in-form Steve Smith. Dismayed at being sidelined for Ashes, Curran added, “the team was in a good place going into the Ashes. I was in all the squads, so that was a confidence booster. At the same time you’d love to be playing, and as the series went on you’re itching to get out on the field.”
The fight for a slot is between Chris Woakes and Curran, with Jofra Archer, Stuart Board and Ben Stokes being well entrenched in their spots. “I think anyone looking at the balance of the side can see that is pretty obvious,” Curran said. “I think if I do get the chance, it is about nailing down my spot in the side and stop being the vulnerable one.
“That is my responsibility and whoever gets the spot, if it is me, has to take the opportunity by getting runs and taking wickets and contributing to the team. If I do get the nod, hopefully, I can go well and contribute with both bat and ball.
“As an allrounder, I look up to someone like Stokesy and the way he contributes with the bat up the order, and he takes wickets when he bowls and that is what I aspire to do. As long as I’m helping to win games for the team then I’m happy.”
It’s his angle as a left-arm pacer that can win him a place at the cost of Woakes, who didn’t shine in the Ashes. Curran added, “It’s not necessarily new to me, I do it quite a bit in county cricket but probably more overseas where the ball doesn’t swing as much. Trying to get the batsmen to play a lot more coming by round the wicket, it is just about finding different ways.”
Just as he is still trying to master his craft with the kookaburra, he feels he has been strengthened by the training so far. “It is a new thing for me to bowl with a red ball in New Zealand, so I’m still learning, but I thought it came out better than it did in the first warm-up game, so I’m feeling pretty confident going into next week,” says Curran.
Curran got an opportunity to bowl 37 overs, bagging four wickets. He expects something for swing bowlers in New Zealand, particularly when it gets cloudy.
“Yeah, it was nice to get out there with a red ball in the first-class game with a bit more on it,” Curran said. “It was nice for the bowling group to be put under pressure against some of their good New Zealand batters and I thought they played well.”