Samuel Matthew Curran
June 03, 1998, Northampton
Left hand bat
Left arm medium fast
Sam Curran, younger brother of Tom Curran, his fellow Surrey all-rounder, and son of the former Zimbabwe cricketer Kevin Curran, fulfilled his destiny at the age of 19 years and 363 days, when he made his Test debut against Pakistan at Headingley in June 2018. One Test later, he scooped his maiden Man-of-the-Match award, after four first-innings wickets and a thrilling counter-attacking half-century had given England the edge in a gripping Edgbaston Test against India. His success merely heightened the debate as to whether batting or bowling will ultimately become his strongest suit.
Curran has belied his slight frame from the moment he entered Surrey's 1st X1 in 2015, showing a natural ability to swing his left-armers at a decent lick and full of ambition with the bat. The combative nature of his cricket has marked him down as a special cricketer in the making, winning attention from England Lions at the end of the 2016 season.
Curran made an eye-catching Championship debut against Kent at The Oval when he took five wickets in the first innings, eight in all in the match, at only 17. Surrey research suggested he was the youngest-ever player to achieve a five-wicket haul in the Championship and the second youngest Surrey debutant. He opened the bowling with his brother, Tom, and took a wicket with his fifth ball when an inswinger bowled Joe Denly. At 17 years and 40 days old, his first-class debut came 69 years to the day after Tony Lock, the youngest player to play for Surrey at 17 years and eight days, made his first appearance - also against Kent - at the Oval on July 13, 1946.
A slightly-built, brisk left-armer, he showed an ability to swing the ball into the right-hander from the outset. That there was aggression, too, was evident even before his debut when he filled in for a Surrey T20 practice match and struck Gary Wilson on the helmet with one of the first balls he bowled. His laid-back personality was also evident when he was given a day off school by Wellington College, where he was taking A levels in PE, Art and Business Studies, to play in a Royal London Cup semi-final against Nottinghamshire at The Oval, where he first came to the attention of a wider audience with a composed, energetic display.
Two successive runners-up medals in the Royal London Cup final, as Surrey lost Lord's finals against Gloucestershire and Warwickshire, were not a bad start for a player still only 18, but such is Curran's competitive nature, it is doubtful that he found much consolation in either of them. In a 2016 summer that brought so much to admire with bat and ball, there was a career-best 96 against Lancashire - ended when a tame return catch to the offspinner Arron Lilley was followed by a disconsolate walk from the crease, in the words of ESPNcricinfo's reporter, as if he had just lost a game of Pokemon Go - and four wickets in seven ball against Durham on the way to the first six-for of his Championship career.
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