‘There’s no ceiling for him’: How Sam Curran became England’s T20 future | T20 World Cup 2022

After the trophy had been presented, the medals collected, the glitter cannons fired, and the players’ families beckoned on to the pitch, England returned to their dressing room and the focus shifted. “The one thing about our team is, when we work we work hard,” Moeen Ali said. “And when we’re not working, we relax well as well.”

Moeen was one of seven members of the squad celebrating a second World Cup win. For their coach, Matthew Mott, it was a fourth. “If you could bottle that hour straight after the game and have that for the rest of your life, you’d be pretty happy,” Mott said. “For a lot of people, particularly after games like that, the relief is obvious. Once you get over that, it’s just pure joy. There was a lot of pressure coming into the game and there was a big release after it. Everyone sat back and reflected a bit and then the music came out and the boys who wanted to party partied and we all had a lot of fun. This team knows how to celebrate 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 take it away and leave England with a replica. Through it all one man was in the centre of the action, the proverbial life and soul. After the group was asked to leave the MCG at 1.30am he was the one roaring up and down the aisle of the team coach as it returned them to their hotel, leading the singing. Once they arrived, before the players reconvened in a private room where the celebrations continued until 7am, he made sure that Mott made good on his promise to shave his head if England won the World Cup.

Sam Curran has become a key figure in the England team over the last few months, culminating in him being named player of the match and of the tournament after they beat Pakistan in the final, and it turned out he had no intention of stopping just because the tournament had. “He loves the occasion,” Moeen said. “He loves the big time.”

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

Curran will become even harder to ignore in the coming days, assuming he fulfils his side of the bet with Mott and dyes his hair in a colour of the coach’s choosing. But that kind of superficial change seems unnecessary when over the last two months he has already transformed the way people look at him. Curran made his T20 debut for England more than three years ago but, of all the games in which he has taken two or more wickets, 67% have come in the last two months, and of those where he has leaked fewer than seven runs an over 64% have come in the last two months. After spending a third of England’s white-ball games this summer on the sidelines, as he heads into the winter he, unlike a drunkenly toted trophy, is all but undroppable.

“There’s no ceiling for him,” Mott said. “I think his batting has got more in it as well – he’s one of the sweetest timers of the ball we’ve got and he’s a gun in the field as well. And aside from all the cricket stuff, 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 white-ball greats in my opinion.”

Curran’s improvement seems 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 to get six games out of seven gave me a lot of confidence. Jos sat me down to have a chat about where he sees my role, and it 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. Photograph: PA Wire/PA

Across the World Cup, Curran has been remarkably consistent in every phase of the game: two wickets in six overs in the powerplay (overs 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, costing 6.60. The only real blip on his statistics is the single over in the semi-final against India from which Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya plundered 22. “He’s that type of player where when it’s a big occasion, I think he loves it and he thrives,” says Moeen. “On the tour of Pakistan he bowled at the death a lot 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 few weeks I actually chatted to a few of the boys who won it in 2019 and asked what it was like to win a World Cup,” Curran says. “They said it gives you that buzz and how cool it is to say you’ve won a World Cup. I’m a bit lost for words but to know that I’ve won a World Cup and been involved –you get goosebumps, it’s incredible.”

Most of these players have been on the road for more than two months already, their path to the World Cup so long that when they eventually return home Harry Brook will go to a new house and Tymal Mills will meet his new child. But nobody’s life has changed during this tour quite as much as Sam Curran’s.

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