I don’t generally like ‘top five’ articles as it just seems a fairly lazy way of putting something together and life isn’t always just about lists is it?
The part I find amusing about lists is where someone will post up their ‘Best XI’ and then loads of other people pile in to suggest alternatives or where the original poster has got things horribly wrong, as if the list is cast in stone and somewhat permanent. If you want a different list then write one yourself, it’s only a matter of opinion and sport is all about opinions.
We all watch sport differently and we are all attracted to sports in different ways. Get two people to watch any team sport and then ask them to summarise afterwards and you will get two completely different views. Some look for power, some for finesse, some for guile and others for sheer determination.
Anyway, enough of that. Here are my top five moments of this cricket summer. There were a whole host of options and the summer has ended with me in a much better mood than I feared I would be after the pathetic World Cup we had. Some moments deserved a mention such as Surrey winning promotion back to Division One as Champions, but as I believe we should never be out the top echelons, this was more ‘a given’ or an expectation than something which held me awe-struck. Surrey’s Royal London Cup Final may have forced its way into this piece too, if we’d won.
Honourable mentions should go to Matt Coles amazing innings in the Royal London Cup Quarter-Final for Kent against Surrey, as well as Jack Leach, who took a hat-trick from the first three balls of a match for Worcestershire against Northants. Also unlucky not to get a mention was Steve Finn’s comeback. I can’t have been the only person who cheered a little louder when he took a wicket in his first over at Edgbaston.
You might have a different favourite five to me, but then it wouldn’t be my top five would it?
5 – Sam Curran’s Debut
Kevin Curran was a Zimbabwean-born cricketer who performed with great distinction in county cricket during the 1980’s and 1990’s. He played for Gloucestershire and Northants and also appeared for his country in the World Cups of 1983 and 1987. He died in October 2012 when out jogging, but by then he had three sons, all of whom are at Surrey. Tom made his debut last season with Sam bursting into the first team this summer. He made his first-class debut against Kent in July and at 17 years and 40 days old he became the second-youngest to play first-class cricket for Surrey.
Surrey’s Director of Cricket, Alec Stewart, has said of Sam “he’s the best seventeen year old I have ever seen”, and young Curran appears to relish the limelight, unfazed by the attention.
Surrey won the toss, put Kent in and Sam took the new ball with his brother bowling the first over. Four balls into his debut and young Sam bowled Joe Denly for 1. A remarkable start for one so young who really should have been far too nervous to get the ball to do what he wanted. A left-armer swinging the ball back into the right-handers, reminiscent of a young Wasim Akram, Curran went for some runs as you’d expect but his first spell showed promise.
His second spell came in the afternoon when he came on to bowl at Ben Harmison, who was well set after an hour and a half at the crease. Harmison faced ten balls from Curran and was only able to score off one of them. The eleventh ball had Harmison trapped in front and the youngster now had 2-39. His first spell was 6-1-35-1 and followed this with an impressive 5-0-13-1.
By the time he came back for a third spell Kent had, at last, found a way to get to grips with the conditions and the pitch. They were 193-6 with Billings and Haggett at the wicket and they were looking more and more comfortable. Curran was wicketless for his third spell but returned with the visitors already passed 300. He was bowling to Sam Billings on 99 not out. He’d batted for over three hours and looked odds-on for his ton. Curran got him with the second ball of his fourth spell.
This was another LBW decision and young Curran now had three wickets. The two Currans were back in tandem, with the second new ball, and Tom picked up his third wicket when he bowled James Tredwell. At the end of Sam’s fifth over of his new spell he then got Matt Coles to edge behind where Ben Foakes took the catch. Kent were nine down and Haggett and Hunn managed to see out Tom’s over before Haggett hit Sam for four off the first ball of the next over. But next ball Sam had him caught Kumar Sangakkara for 80 and Kent were all out for 336.
Sam Curran’s debut in English cricket had seen him return figures of 22.2-2-101-5. His fourth spell was 5.2-0-17-3. With this he became the youngest cricketer to ever take five wickets on debut in county cricket.
When he batted he steered Surrey past 300 with his brother, hitting four boundaries in a fifteen-ball innings. He then put the bowling boots on again as Kent had a slender 25-run lead. His first over was to Bell-Drummond and after four dot-balls, the Kent opener hit the first boundary of the innings, but next ball Curran got his third LBW decision of the match.
Joe Denly faced the next over from Tom Curran and then the new batsman, Adam Ball, was up against Surrey’s new hero. Ball blocked the first one but then he succumbed to the second. Dom Sibley, another young prospect, took the catch and Sam was on figures of 1.2-0-4-2.
Sam Northeast and Denly steadied things for a few overs but then in Sam’s fifth over of the innings he caught and bowled Denly for 10, and Kent were reeling at 20-3 with Sam having taken all three wickets (4.4-2-7-3). If you thought his first innings was impressive, the second had almost eclipsed this. He’d taken six wickets in his last nine overs straddling both innings. He finished with 3-19 off nine overs as Kent were skittled out for 99.
Match figures of 31.2-4-120-8 announced Sam Curran to the world. If we can think back to how we were at that age I’m sure we’d all have had a mixture of excitement and trepidation but his performances for the rest of the season would point to a young man with a very bright future.
He would go onto play an important role in Surrey’s Royal London Cup run which took them all the way to the Final. In the Semi-Final against Notts he took two wickets with his first three balls as he bowled Rikki Wessels and then had Brendan Taylor lbw.
Surrey’s effort to find some exciting and talented youngsters is beginning to take shape and the two Curran’s are at the heart of this revolution. The bad news for the rest of county cricket is that there’s a third Curran waiting in the wings. Ben hit a hundred for Weybridge against Guildford back in June and also scored a century against Kent U17s.