Sam Curran says his stint at the IPL this season with Chennai Super Kings helped take his game to another level despite the franchise’s poor performance in the tournament.
CSK had a miserable IPL, winning only six of their 14 games and finishing second in the group stage. Curran was one of the few bright spots, however. He played every game, one in only four players, took 13 wickets and an average of 23. 25 with the bat with a hit rate of 131. 91. Solid numbers, but they only tell half the story.
Curran was used in various roles over the course of the tournament and CSK was looking for a formula for success. He opened the eyelashes in some games and medium-order in others. He would often take the new ball, but would come back in some games later. In a match he didn’t roll at all. Curran’s tournament was like a crash course in T20 cricket.
Before the series against South Africa began in Newlands on Friday night, England captain Eoin Morgan said that Curran appears to have gained confidence from his experience with CSK. « He was certainly thrown in under all sorts of circumstances and faced all sorts of challenges, but came out red-hot on the other side, » said Morgan. « It’s great and very difficult in a team that couldn’t keep up at all. «
Curran, who won three wickets in England at the first T20I in England, agrees that this year’s IPL has sped up his learning. « I really enjoyed the IPL and felt like I took my game to a different standard in terms of my learning, » said Curran. « I took a lot away from this group and the coaches in Chennai. I feel like my game has improved since I was there and I want to keep trying to improve and become a regular. «
The inaugural T20I was just Curran’s sixth for England and his first in over a year. Ordinarily, this experience would mean that there was still a lot left for a player to learn about high level T20 cricket. But the franchise circuit has changed the landscape. Despite the lack of international T20 games Curran has played so far, his two IPLs – he played for Kings XI Punjab in 2019 – have given him a ton of top-notch T20 cricket games to learn from.
As such, he is more advanced in his development than his international experience suggests. In addition, he is clearly quick to learn, which means he evolves quickly in all formats. With Reece Topley and David Willey vying for the left arm role on England’s white ball teams, Curran is clearly the first choice right now.
The 22-year-old picked up the new ball on Friday and removed Temba Bavuma in his first game. He later returned to pick up the crucial wicket from Faf du Plessis, which had hooked a bouncer at the border before Heinrich Klaasen went for a similar shot in Curran’s next run, although the ball led to Jos Buttler behind the stumps. In total, Curran conceded just 28 runs from his four overs and showed his full range of variations, including cutter, slower balls and a faster bouncer.
« I took the new ball and tried to set the tone for the team and obviously a wicket was enjoyable in the first game, » said Curran. « I thought it was a really nice accomplishment, with the skills I worked on last year, and luckily it turned out well. Whenever you are asked to play the new ball in a T20 game for England, it is a great responsibility to set the tone of ball one.
« I think it’s a really good team. You saw that warm-up game, any of those players could have gone out and it would have been a good English team. The competition is really good and once you get in you need to take advantage of these opportunities.
« It’s a great environment to study and collect the brains of the older players. For me, as a younger player who’s only played a handful of games so far, it’s about learning to take my chances and keep trying to enjoy it. «
South African national cricket team, English cricket team, cricket, Twenty20 International
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