No left-arm pace bowler has ever claimed 100 Test wickets for England, but Sam Curran might just change all that.

Here - aged 20 years and 60 days - he became the youngest man to claim four wickets in a Test innings for England. And with time on his side and skills aplenty, there could be many more fine days ahead.

You look at pictures of Alec Bedser or Harold Larwood and wonder if they ever looked as young as 20-year-old Curran. Even in their pre-natal scans. If you were a barman you might refuse to serve him; it you were a steward at this game, you wouldn't think twice if he tried to come in as an U16.

But, belying that fresh complexion, Curran has become a mature cricketer accustomed to setting such records. He became, aged 17 years and 40 days, the second youngest man to represent Surrey in first-class cricket (Tony Lock was a couple of months younger) and, by claiming 5 for 101 in the first innings of that game, the youngest man in the history of the County Championship to claim a five-wicket haul. A few weeks ago, he became the seventh youngest man - aged 19 years and 363 days - to make his Test debut for England.

Surrey knew they had a gem even before he produced a classic inswinger from the fourth ball of his first-class debut to take Joe Denly's middle stump. He had been attracted back to England - he was born in Northampton where his dad, the Zimbabwe international Kevin, was a fine all-rounder for many years - aged 13 by the offer of a scholarship at Wellington College.

It was actually a 'buy one, get two free' deal. His brother, Tom, had been spotted playing club cricket in Cape Town by former England allrounder Ian Greig who alerted Surrey, a club with a strong relationship with the school. Surrey's academy coach, Gareth Townsend, just happened to be in the city at the time and soon realised he had hit the mother lode of talent when he saw there were three brothers. Tom and Sam have now played Test cricket for England; Ben - the middle brother and aged only 22 - is currently playing second XI cricket for Northants.

He was just 16 when Surrey started to name him in their first-team squad and on one occasion, that call-up came only after he wasn't required by his school team

Such was Sam's talent, he soon learned to mix school duties with county. He was just 16 when Surrey started to name him in their first-team squad and on one occasion, that call-up came only after he wasn't required by his school team - they had just lost in the semi-final of a national competition at Arundel. That day, he travelled up on the train at lunch time and, by late afternoon, was stepping out in front of a full house at The Oval to play in a T20 against Middlesex.

Some teenagers might have been overawed, but not Curran. "The bigger the stage, the better he performs," Alec Stewart, his director of cricket at Surrey told ESPNcricinfo. "He stood out a mile. He was the best 17-year-old England cricketer I'd ever seen and nothing fazed him."

That characteristic was noticeable here. His first wicket - something of a game-changer at the time - came only when he insisted that Joe Root should utilise a review after the original not-out verdict. That was a brave move: England had already squandered one review and had Curran - the boy surrounded by men he admitted were his childhood heroes - burned another, it would have hurt. But he was confident and had the strength of his convictions to ensure the reviews were not left to the likes of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad. The decision ended India's dangerous opening stand - only their fifth opening stand of 50 or more in England since 1990 - and precipitated the fall of three wickets in eight of Curran's deliveries.

But Stewart has seen such talent before and knows there are no guarantees that he will kick on. Most notably, Stewart played with Alex Tudor, whose potential career as a great fast bowler was ruined by injury, and Ben Hollioake, whose potential career as a great allrounder was ended by tragedy. Understandably, he urges caution.

"There will be bad days," Stewart warns. "But we'll keep his feet on the ground. He is a humble, hard-working lad without a bad bone in his body. His mum has done a great job with him and his brothers and only time will tell how far he can go in the game. But all I would say is: anyone who can swing the ball like he can always has a chance. And he's improving all the time."

There will, no doubt, be days when the ball won't swing. And there will, no doubt, be days when batsmen play him better than KL Rahul - who attempted a footless drive - and Shikhar Dhawan - who pushed hard at one as if providing a guide in how not to play the moving ball.

But he will also play against many less talented batting line-ups. And, if he continues to make the ball swing both ways - for there was more than just natural variation at play when Virat Kohli was beaten outside off stump - then he will continue to trouble batsmen. The deliveries that trapped M Vijay and Hardik Pandya - classic inswingers - were things of beauty.

He is not especially tall and he is not especially fast. And those things matter. But, as Stewart points out, he is just about as tall and as fast as Chaminda Vaas and he enjoyed rather a good career. If he can make the ball swing like this often enough, he will prove a valuable performer. It's probably fair to suggest we're not in an age when batsmen play the moving ball as well as they once did.

Stewart also believes there may be a little more pace to come as Curran develops. "He's still filling out," he said. "And he may grow a bit more, too. If he works hard on his strength and conditioning, he might be able to push north of 85 mph or so. He's already bowling in the early 80s and he has a surprisingly skiddy bouncer.

"But I've always said I thought he would be a stronger batter than bowler. And I still do think that could happen. He should be a genuine allrounder. He will have to earn the right, but he could well end up batting No. 6."

England's relative lack of success with left-arm pace bowlers is remarkable. Bill Voce - who played his last Test in 1947 - remains their highest Test wicket-taker with 98 victims and, until Thursday, was also the youngest man to take a four-wicket haul for England (he was 20 years and 179 days when he achieved that mark in Port of Spain in 1930). Ryan Sidebottom is also the only such bowler to have taken a five-for for England in Test cricket this century.

Sidebottom is now a bowling coach at The Oval. As such, he has had a ringside view over the last few months as Curran has pushed for Test recognition.

"He picked up a couple of things that took me months to learn in a day," Sidebottom told ESPNcricinfo. "I showed him a few changes of grip that could help the ball swing and, within the day, he had them mastered.

"The main thing is, he's learning to be more patient. By instinct, he wants to take a wicket every ball. That's great, but there are times when you have to understand that's not possible and you just sit in there and aim for the top of off stump. He's doing that much better now.

"I'm really tired of the 'he's not quick enough' thing. Skill comes first and, as Jimmy Anderson has shown in the last few years, if you have the skill, you can take a lot of wickets. Sam pretty much always swings the ball, he is very receptive to advice and he is improving all the time.

"He is getting quicker, too. I added pace when I played Test cricket as I knew I wasn't going to bowl as much as you have to at county level, and I had more time to work on my strength and conditioning."

Sidebottom also has an interesting theory as to why England are so reluctant to field left-arm seamers in their Test side. He feels it may, to some extent, be due to a long-held timidity towards the opposition's spin bowling and a fear that providing any footmarks for them could prove dangerous. But he also urges the selectors to take a more positive approach in the future.

"When you play a left-armer like Sam, it can bring two bowlers into the game," Sidebottom said. "It gives an offspinner like Moeen Ali some footholes to use and that can make him a lot more dangerous. Moeen is a really good bowler and he's never had that advantage. I think it can make a huge difference if he is given a bit of rough to use.

"And England have been crying out for some variety in their attack. That left-arm angle gives batsmen something else to worry about and, if you can make the ball swing like Sam does, you can trouble anyone on any surface.

"I'm not at all surprised by his success. I don't think anyone who has seen him in county cricket will be. I still miss playing but the next best thing to taking a Test wicket is to see a young guy whose career you've followed doing it and I'm absolutely thrilled for him."

Judging by Curran's performance on Thursday, Sidebottom has many more thrills to come.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo