Surrey v Middlesex, NatWest T20 Blast, The Oval May 30, 2014

Curran a child among men delivers win

Vithushan Ehantharajah at The Oval

Surrey 121 for 4 (Amla 39) beat Middlesex 117 for 7 (Malan 48*, Curran 2-15) by six wickets

"Pretty ordinary" was how Dan Christian described his team's batting effort. Stronger words would have been justified - it was post watershed - as Middlesex floundered to a fifth successive defeat. Undone by a smarter, hungrier and savvier Surrey, the game was decided at the toss.

Having been under covers for three days, the home side knew the pitch would seam and provide enough encouragement for Jade Dernbach, Kevin O'Brien and Azhar Mahmood to roll their fingers over and around the ball. Naturally, Surrey bowled first upon winning the toss and Middlesex's punchy batsmen were too short of form to wait for cutting deliveries to come onto the bat and too apprehensive to manufacture options square of the wicket.

It was only really Joe Denly and Toby Roland-Jones, both with far-reaching levers, who were able to hit through the line of the ball. Dawid Malan carried his bat for a noble 48, but the sight of him, normally such an attractive driver of the ball, trying to shoe-horn balls into the leg side was a fitting nod to a forlorn batting effort.

Still, Surrey's bowlers deserve credit for a near perfect bowling performance. Their acquisition of the target was efficient, if unspectacular, but they had afforded themselves the luxury of a gentle stroll to victory. Those in the crowd expecting fireworks had to settle for one six from Hashim Amla and a smattering of botched beer snakes. With one run needed to win, one spectator broke loose from the OCS stand and made a beeline for the pitch. He tripped within sight of the boundary foam, before being escorted off and missing Mahmood, playing in his 200th T20 match, hit down the ground to seal Surrey's second victory of the T20 Blast campaign.

Among the histrionics, it was the performance of Tom Curran that stood out. "He can do anything," Gary Wilson effused, his voice quickening as his head bobbed from side to side, seemingly unable to conceal his disbelief at the skill of the 19 year-old. Bowling at a good pace, he returned figures of 2 for 15 from his four overs and, impressively, 16 dot balls. Who knows how good this kid can get.

Graham Ford has shown a good deal of faith in Curran, who has been operating in Surrey's four-day XI as a side-balancing allrounder. Even before Ford's endorsement, those at Surrey, particularly academy director Gareth Townsend, had no qualms about his about his ability to handle pressure.

Townsend recalls with great fondness just how quickly an even fresher faced Curran assimilated into the academy side during their tour of Cape Town in 2012, having impressed former Surrey captain Ian Greig while playing schools cricket. Surrounded by talented yet sceptical peers, who would have cast suspicious glares at this coiffed haired unknown who was suddenly in their space off the back of extra-curricular work, he quickly got to grips with the vibe.

He was invited to Surrey that summer and ended up playing 2nd XI cricket, returning figures of 5 for 21 against Kent in his second outing. The decision to sign him was a no-brainer, but the tragic loss of his father, Kevin, in October 2012, rocked him. Curran had just made the decision to move to England permanently and attend Wellington School; the tragedy grossly accentuating just how far away he was from home and family.

To their great credit, Wellington reached out and offered his two younger brothers, studying in South Africa and Zimbabwe, the opportunity to move to England and attend the school so that Tom could have family around him. It was a gesture greatly appreciated by Surrey and the Curran family.

As a cricketer, he is still excitingly malleable. His action suggests he will add on pace through natural development; a child among men in a huddle featuring Kevin O'Brien and Gary Wilson, up close he has the build of a fleet-footed scrum half.

Speaking after collecting his man of the match award he was candid, brushing off the comparison with Dale Steyn with a hint of nerves, as he looked to take the compliment without cracking too much of a smile. Those that remained were preoccupied with drunken chants and the odd good-natured ruckus, cheering wildly as Curran's name was announced again as he walked off, magnum of champagne in hand, back to the dressing room. He will no doubt be subject to more accolades and ovations in years to come.

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  • ZCF on June 1, 2014, 7:50 GMT

    @Greatest_Game he's Zimbabwean, but England can have him, not even SA. We've got Rabada&Gqamane our very own gems here in SA to look forward to. And if certain people didn't make the world so small(if you know what I mean) then those two would've been given the opportunity to develop in the UK, and would no doubt have been better than anything young Tom would ever be.

  • Dummy4 on May 31, 2014, 7:11 GMT

    i watched the game and, while pleased by the win, was hopelessly bored by the match. maybe it's because the ipl has been so thrilling, but the blast has so far been something of a fizzle. four-day cricketers playing instant adrenaline cricket doesn't do it for me. and a match in which a conventional medium-pace dobber turns out to be some sort of star is not proper t20. face it, england, this is not the country for t20, and it doesn't have the players to make it fun. bring on the test matches. that's a game england, and english (and south african) players do know how to play

  • Dumidu on May 31, 2014, 6:29 GMT

    daddy would be proud , keep it up young man!!

  • David on May 31, 2014, 0:36 GMT

    "Bowling at a good pace, he returned figures of 2 for 15 from his four overs and, impressively, 16 dot balls. Who knows how good this kid can get."

    I guess it is probable he could get as good as the other legends from the school where he learned his cricket. If he manages to get as good as Mike Procter, then he will be really really good, and no doubt join the illustrious list of Saffas who played their cricket for England.

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