Curran was 'a team man' - Traicos
Tributes have been paid to Kevin Curran, the former Zimbabwe allrounder, who died on Wednesday at the age of 53. John Traicos, the former offspinner, remembered him as a "dedicated person" while Heath Streak, who was coached by Curran said "nothing was too much for him to try and conquer".
Traicos, a former captain of Curran, was "shocked" to hear the news of his death which occurred when he was out running. He had been told by Duncan Fletcher, another former captain of Zimbabwe and currently the India coach. Curran played the 1983 World Cup where Zimbabwe were led by Fletcher.
"The most shocking thing is, he was incredibly fit. He was a fitness fanatic, he used to be in the gym everyday," Traicos said. "He and Malcolm Jarvis ran a gymnasium in Harare and Kevin was there every day, did everything from weights to aerobics. And he ran a lot. He was very, very competitive and played rugby, tennis and golf. He was a naturally talented guy."
Traicos recollected leading Curran at the Harare Sports Club in the early 1980s. "I had great admiration for Kevin. He was a self-made cricketer," Traicos said. "We had quite a high work ethic in those days and I remember Kevin being a really dedicated guy, who would bowl for hours on the concrete pitches on his own. He had a lovely action, a very nice away swinger and bowl very, very quickly. In 1985, when the Australians came to Zimbabwe, Dean Jones mentioned that Kevin was one of the fastest bowlers he had faced. Kevin was an incredibly talented guy, an allrounder, batted beautifully, really gutsy performer. He was always a team man, an outstanding cricketer. "
Andy Waller, the former Zimbabwe batsman, said he had never seen another cricket with greater self-belief than Curran. "You often heard the words desire, determination, dedication and discipline being used by coaches if sports person want to be the best in their fields. Well, KC applied all four throughout his career. To top it off he had more self-belief than any person I know and my goodness was he competitive. It was, therefore, no coincidence that Kev was so successful at everything he did," Waller said.
Waller gave an idea of Curran's competitiveness with an example. "He had played in a regular 4-ball (golf) at Rusape Country Club, the area where he and folks once farmed. Him and his mate could never win this one particular hole versus the two elderly gents. It was a straight par 4, but over a slight rise with the green out of sight. The two old blokes hit it straight over the rise and the ball always rolled down the hill on the hard fairways close to the green. The day before one encounter he got some of the labourers from the farm, dug a bunker in front of the green without permission from the green-keeper or anyone. The two old folks were horrified to see their balls in the bunkers after their normal straight drives. Kev and his mate won the hole for the first time."
According to Waller, Curran was often misunderstood if you met him for the first time. "The word arrogant was often used when talking about KC and people who met him for the first time were not quite sure of this guy, but when you had the privilege to get to know him, be his team mate and friend you realised what an amazing person he was."
Zimbabwe's sports minister, David Coltart, said, "I fondly remember the chats we had recently about the future of cricket in Zimbabwe. He had such a passion for the game and Zimbabwe. He stuck to our beloved nation through its worst years and was committed to doing what he could to restore pride to Zimbabwe cricket. He will be sorely missed."
Alan Pichanick, the former Zimbabwe Cricket Union president in the early 1980s, remembers talking to a young Curran, who was bowling leg spinner but had ambitions of becoming a fast bowler. "During the period that I was the President of Zimbabwe Cricket in the early 1980s when Kevin was emerging as a promising young player he discussed with me his conversion from being a leg spinner to a quick bowler. I had already seen him developing as a quick bowler and I told him that it was apparent that he had good pace and was able to spin the ball prodigiously. I pointed out to him that he would need to be in a position where his accuracy was such that if he was asked by his Captain to deliver six successive yorkers on middle and leg he would have to be able to achieve that," Pichanick said.
That the transition would not happen overnight, Curran clearly understood. But he was not going to quit without trying. "For some months thereafter he could be seen on his own at the nets at the Harare Sports Club, bowling by himself for hours with waiters from the club returning the ball to him after each delivery. In that same season he represented Zimbabwe and began what became a very successful career as a fast bowler allied to tremendous skill as a batsman and fielder as well.
According to Pichanick, Curran's determination and dedication were so intense that he did not risking his day-time job at the time. "Unfortunately much of his practice time involved periods when he should have been at work and caused him to lose his first job after leaving school. However the skills he acquired enabled him to embark on a highly successful International career for Zimbabwe and simultaneously a very distinguished career in County cricket in England for Gloucestershire and Northants," Pichanick said.
Streak, meanwhile, said Curran was desperate to help cricket in Zimbabwe. "He was my bowling coach and we worked together when he was on the selection committee and I became involved in administration. He was always such a positive guy and he always found the best in everything. Nothing was too much for him to try and conquer.
"He lived cricket and he was very passionate about Zimbabwe and helping cricket in the country. His kids also have the same passion and its going to be tough for them now. It's really sad what happened. He was a fit guy, he played squash, he ran four times a week. It's sad."
Messages were also posted on Twitter from current and former players around the world. Curran enjoyed a very successful county career with Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire, playing for the latter until 1999.
Adam Hollioake tweeted: "Sad to hear of Kevin Curran's passing A true competitor & one of my fiercest adversary's...RIP brother my thoughts are with u & ur family.."
Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, wrote: "Thoughts are with his close Family. A wonderful cricketer who would have flourished In the modern era of T20."