“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” said someone not named Albert Einstein.
In the world of cricket, there is one player who follows this advice closely—Sam Curran. Commonly known by commentators around the world as Sam “Makes Things Happen” Curran, when results are not going England’s way, you can always find Curran around the corner—trying new things and rescuing England time and again.
In the first T20I against South Africa, he bowled a match-winning spell of 3-28 along with a crucial 7*(3) finishing punch. Another game, and yet another important contribution from Sam Curran.
He is given this title for a reason—the lad never gives up hope. And this is exactly why he is one of my favorite players in the current cricket circuit.
Ask him to salvage Test matches in the lower order? Can do. Ask him to sit out for the Andersons and the Broad? No problem sir. Operate as a swing bowler, death bowler, gun fielder, opener, pinch-hitter, finisher?
The sample size in ODIs/T20Is is relatively small with 5/7 games respectively with uninspiring numbers of combined 39 runs and 14 wickets. Hence, we will only focus on his Tests and T20 stats.
Tests: 19 matches, 728 runs, best of 78, average 26.96, 3-50s
T20s: 85 matches, 1032 runs, best of 55*, average 19.47, 130.79 SR, 5-50s
Tests: 19 matches, 41 wickets, 32.12 average, Best Match – 5/92, 2-4 fors
T20s: 85 matches, 79 wickets, 29.16 average, Best – 4/11, 2-4 fors
The numbers are not that spectacular, are they? Yet, numbers do not paint the whole picture. It his impact that is palpable.
My First Memory of Sam Curran
I am not sure I have ever seen a more sparkling introduction to Test cricket in recent memory.
India lost the 5-match series 4-1 although the series was closer than the score line suggested. Were India ever out of the series like 2011? No, but just whenever England seemed to lose their way, Sam came into the picture.
It all started in the first test at Edgbaston, which was the second Test for Curran.
In the first innings, from 6-224, he dragged England to 287 with a valiant 24(98). Next innings, he pulled England from 6-85 to 180 with an attacking 63 (103). In between, 3 wickets in space of 8 balls at Edgbaston to reduce India from 50-0 to 59-3.
He played a couple of other knocks like 78 (136) at Southampton, a few 40s here and there, and took important wickets.
Not the highest scorer, nor the highest wicket taker, but impactful nevertheless. Ending up winning England’s Man of the Series award and was deservedly, one of the breakout stars of 2018.
Since that Test debut, he has not got too many opportunities. With a bowling line up of Broad-Anderson-Woakes in Tests and Archer-Rashid-Jordan in limited overs, it is hard to find consistent opportunities. Heck, he even has to compete with his brother Tom for a spot.
Yet, as the South Africa match showed, whatever opportunities he gets, he makes the most out of it. Recently, in the IPL, he was one of the young stars for CSK amidst a dismal campaign. He bowled at the death, opened the innings, and finished a game or two as well.
So what can we learn from him?
Quick Learner: Give him a new role, he will take a game or two to adjust and then you see immediate results. Good skill to have for a job application.
Keep Curiosity Alive: There is never an age to stop learning. Ask questions, keep on learning.
Jack of All Trades, Master of None: Literally strike that out. As a rule of thumb, master two trades and the rest is bonus. Having a primary and a secondary skill is crucial in today’s day and age. Then, you can go and become the jack of the rest of the trades.
Be ready: Being Sam Curran may not always be easy. You are never guaranteed a game. Your role is not defined clearly. It does not matter. When your time comes, give it your all.
Courage: When things are not going your way, keep on trying new things even if it may be risky. Volunteer for the pinch-hitter opener role. Pitch the ball up hoping for some swing. How about a slow cutter with a risk of getting hit?
As one of my good friends said,
If you ain’t dying, you ain’t living.
So take risks once in a while. It is going to be okay. Try new things, but never give up.
Currently we can see the impact these utility players have. India’s two games against Australia exposed a problem – a sixth bowling option. None of India’s batsman bowl and none of their bowlers bat.
Yes – the Pandyas, the Cummins, the Ben Stokes – are all necessary for a team’s success, but having one all-rounder only may not be enough.
This English limited over team is built of giants – Roy, Bairstow, Root, Morgan, Buttler, Archer, Rashid, and Stokes. Their legacy is forever etched in record books and cricketing legend.
Without their star power, England could not have won the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
Yet, the world also needs the Liam Plunketts, the Moeen Alis, the Joe Denlies, and most definitely the Sam Currans. Whatever the team requires of them, they adapt and deliver. With a smile and without a grudge.
He has a long career ahead of him. The stats will improve. We can just sit back and enjoy Sam Curran’s presence—conquering the world one game at a time—calm, courageous, and charismatic.
Shimron Hetmyer-Pooran-Pollard-Powell-Fabian Allen form a spectacular middle-order. Watch out for Pooran, one of the most exciting talents in the world right now and definitely for West Indies cricket.
Captaincy seems to have pushed Pollard to another level. At the IPL – 268 runs at a strike rate of 191.42 and CPL – 207 runs at 204.95, he is coming in with dangerous form. What more? Pollard was a key member of TKR and MI teams, this year’s winner at the CPL and IPL respectively
Andre Fletcher-Brandon King might be the new opening combination of the WI. Relatively inexperienced pair, but explosive nevertheless
NZ: Inexperience with a Williamson-sized hole
Kane Williamson is sitting out of the T20s to prepare for the Test series. As seen in the IPL, he is valuable in any position, and hence, NZ will miss him dearly
If one of Guptill-Seifert-Phillips come to the party, New Zealand might be able to put competitive scores
The finishing prowess is a concern. Santner and Neesham have finishing pedigree but lack of game time in the IPL and only Taylor/Mitchell may hurt NZ
WI: Death Bowling the Weakness for West Indies
The swinging conditions early on might aid Cottrell against NZ’s heavy top order
Hayden Walsh Jr. vs Ross Taylor will be a key battle to watch out for
Death bowling options? Keemo Paul, Kesrick Williams, Oshane Thomas? All decent but not yet convincing
All eyes will be on Lockie Ferguson and the new kid on the block – Kyle Jamieson
Ish Sodhi has been decent for New Zealand without ever going to greater heights – can he make a mark in this series?
The Broken Dream
WI: The Russell Muscle Question
Andre Russell, injuries, and lack of communication – same old story. Does he still have a future with West Indies cricket especially with the T20 World Cups on the horizon?
Lendl Simmons has played some of the most memorable innings but is still in-and-out of the squad. He is not in the squad for the T20 series.
End of the road for Chris Gayle’s West Indies career?
NZ: Southee & Taylor – valuable experience or liability?
Ross Taylor, one of the most underrated ODI batsmen of the century, but his T20 record is subpar. How many T20 caps can he add to his 100?
Tim Southee, the limited overs bowler, has not lived up to his potential since his 7-33 in the 2015 Cricket World Cup. He has even been at the wrong end of Super Overs. Can T20 captaincy bring back the spark?
Verdict: 2-1 West Indies
A depleted New Zealand team will still be hard to beat at home, but given the batting depth of the West Indies, I am giving the edge to West Indies 2-1.
Add to that, the West Indians have been coming from a successful IPL tournament, while the Kiwis, barring Boult (who is not playing this series), had nothing to show.
Who do you think will triumph in this contest? Comment below and let us know!
My Starting XI:
These are my starting XI for the first T20I (assuming everyone is available in terms of COVID and injuries).
Dhawan, KL Rahul, Kohli, Iyer, Pandey, Agarwal, Samson, and even Hardik Pandya (with back injury) – none of the top 6 bowl
Rohit Sharma is one of the ODI players of the decade, but is out with an injury from the IPL. How much will this batting line-up miss him?
With the #4 dilemma India suffered prior to the 2019 World Cup semi-final, it may be wise to move KL Rahul to #4 and open with the in-form Mayank Agarwal or Shubman Gill
Aus: Batting Has Too Much Flexibility
With Finch-Warner-Labuschagne-Smith, the top four is pretty solid and settled
The concern is the flexibility in the middle order – Stoinis, Carey, Maxwell and maybe even Moises Henriques/Cameron Green. Carey & Maxwell coming from disaster IPLs and Stoinis in the middle order is a hit and miss (fluid line-ups do not work much – look at KKR from the IPL)
Out-of-the-box: Move Stoinis up to open, drop Labuschagne, and play with 3 all-rounders/power-hitters?
Sanju Samson has always lit up the IPL and is finally getting some chances in the international fold. With KL Rahul almost certainly taking the gloves, can India find a space for him as an X-factor or will he end up as another Indian unlucky cricketer?
Aus: The New Kids on the Block
Sean Abbott, Cameron Green, and Labuschagne in ODIs are great prospects for the future, and it remains to be seen if their long-term future will be secure
Matthew Wade made a marvelous comeback after toiling in domestic cricket for a while. With Carey’s struggle of late, Wade may get a chance. Who knows, at 32, this might be his final try in ODI cricket
Verdict: 2-1 India
This series will be closer than it appears. Australia at home with this bowling attack and an envious top 4, Australia are the clear favorites.
If India can find that final lower-order firepower and exploit Australia’s 5th bowling option, we might be in for a close one.
I think Australia will win the first one, but India will bounce back with two on the trot to win the series.
My Starting XI:
These are my starting XI for the first ODI (assuming everyone is available in terms of COVID and injuries).
November 27th, the big day is finally here—England (Eng) vs South Africa (SA), India vs Australia, and New Zealand vs West Indies.
We will start by previewing the England vs South Africa 3-match T20I series. This series has been in the news for ominous reasons—Cricket South Africa’s administrative troubles, mixed BLM’s messages, and COVID positive cases. Now that the series is finally on, let us focus on the cricket.
My prediction for the series: South Africa 3, England 0. Read till the end to see why.
Let us know who you think will win in the comments section below!
Joe Root is massively underrated in T20 cricket. His contributions in the 2016 T20 World Cup were monumental, but he has been selected only for the ODI side, not the T20 side.
Will Reece Topley make a comeback?
SA: Is Dale Steyn’s international career over?
After having a poor IPL, it seems that Dale Steyn’s international career has finally come to an end.
Will Janneman Malan get to showcase his talent?
Last time England toured South Africa in February 2020 (pre-COVID times), it was a close 2-1 contest in England’s favor. The margins of victory?
SA won by 1 run, Eng won by 2 runs, and Eng won with 5 balls to spare.
The scores? 177 vs 176, 204 vs 202, 222 vs 226
If this series is going to be anywhere close, it is going to be a cracker of a contest!
Verdict: 0-3 South Africa
England definitely have better resources and will be a threat at the T20 World Cup next year, but 3-match series might not be enough time to find a settled line up. South Africa at home with a clearer batting line up and in-form bowling attack can spring a surprise.
I think South Africa will spice things up and win 3-0 due to the momentum if they start on a good note.
By the time the ODI series gets around, England will have an edge. Whatever ends up happening, this is a series that is going to have high-scoring close contests.
My Starting XI:
These are my starting XI for the first T20I (assuming everyone is available in terms of COVID and injuries).
Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler (WK), Dawid Malan, Eoin Morgan*, Ben Stokes, Sam Billings, Sam Curran, Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Adil Rashid, Chris Jordan
Quinton de Kock * (WK), Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis, Rassie Van der Dussen, Heinrich Klassen, David Miller, Andile Phelukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi
These are the other options in the squads.
Eng: Tom Curran, Jason Roy, Reece Topley, Mark Wood
We asked the Twitter crowd these questions with #SeriesPredictions:
Note, we will focus on the Test series for the IndvAus and NZvWI series, but look at limited overs combined for the EngvSA series.
And guess was, there are no rules! You can do the predictions as you wish – for 1 series or all 3! Just have fun!
So who do you think we will emerge as the winner? Who will be the surprise package? Reece Topley, Kyle Jamieson? Pucovski and Green? Who will win the battle of the off-spinners, R Ashwin vs Nathan Lyon?
So many questions, so little time.
So without further ado, here are mine:
2-1 (ODI), 1-2 (T20I), 1-1 (Tests)
1-2 (T20I), 2-0 (Tests)
0-3 (T20I), 2-1 (ODI)
Hanuma Vihari (Ind), Labuschagne (Aus)
Trent Boult (NZ), Roston Chase (WI)
Moeen Ali (Eng), Van der Dussen (SA)
Quinton de Kock
Trent Boult-Jason Holder (tied)
Joshua De Silva
Here are the responses we received from my Twitter post. Enjoy!
Everyone has been dismissing India’s chance in the BG Trophy – Test series . I have a feeling we will do well there , provided all of them stay injury free. We are a better team in the white ball format , so winning them wont be a surprise .
For #SAvEng I just hope they get on the pitch. If they do, England probably win both 2-1. They don’t seem to be taking ODIs that seriously right now which could give SA a chance but most of them have had either a decent IPL or a good rest so will be ready to go…