England in West Indies 2016-17 February 28, 2017

Tom Curran called up to England ODI squad

Tom Curran heard of his England call-up during a 4am trip to the bathroom, and now has a golden opportunity to stake his claim for the Champions Trophy
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Tom Curran faces a lengthy commute from Dambulla to Antigua

Waking up before dawn with the memories of a last-session defeat in exhausting heat still fresh in the mind is not normally designed to bring on a feeling of ecstasy, but that is exactly what befell Tom Curran as he awoke from a disturbed night in the heart of Sri Lanka's cultural triangle.

What does any self-respecting young cricketer do at such an hour other than check his mobile phone, delayed perhaps only by a quick visit to the bathroom? When Curran did just that earlier today, it was to discover an email from England's national selector, James Whitaker, and a call-up to England's senior squad for the first time for their one-day tour of the Caribbean.

A knee injury suffered by Jake Ball, the Nottinghamshire seamer, has given Curran, the senior of the two Surrey brothers, an opportunity that has come faster than he might have expected.

Batsmen must observe England's one-day riches and imagine it is long odds that they might force their way into the reckoning before England host the Champions Trophy in June. The composition of the bowling attack, however, is a different matter: Curran's timing might just prove to have been perfect.

He leaves the forthcoming England Lions' one-day series against Sri Lanka A - five matches in which he had hoped to prove himself - without bowling a ball, but a couple of stalwart performances in a two-match four-day series, drawn 1-1, was enough to persuade the likes of England Lions' coach Andy Flower and Whitaker's fellow selector, Angus Fraser, to recommend his elevation to the senior squad.

"I woke up about half past four and saw I had a message from James Whitaker on my phone," said Curran. "I thought I'd give it a quick read and he'd be saying well done on the series - and I wasn't thinking very clearly at that time in the morning. But then I saw the words 'West Indies' - and I was awake then to say the least.

"I read it a few times, couldn't quite come to grips with it, trying to pinch myself to wake up. Put it this way, I couldn't get back to sleep. So thanks again for the message James!"

Those who have followed the exciting development of the Curran brothers at Surrey - not only their skill but their game sense and love of the big occasion being central to the county's growth - have already cottoned on to the fact that few Curran stories are complete without the involvement of the other: so is the case here.

Curran has impressed on England Lions duty this winter © Getty Images

The first person Curran told in the flesh was his younger brother Sam, who is also on tour with the Lions. "I waited until 7 and he wasn't very pleased to be woken up - it's our first day off," Tom said. "But he understood when I told him, and he was as excited as me."

Congratulations duly bestowed, Sam, whose time will come, had a chance instead to look at a ruined city or two.

Barely a month had passed since the Lions' media day at the national cricket centre in Loughborough where visiting journalists were amused to witness another Curran brother escapade with a mobile phone, this time involving Tom ticking off Sam for not giving him a promised lift after he had delayed overlong in the shower. Once again, he will travel separately from his brother, but this time full only of optimism.

Sam's precocity has meant that he has had the majority of the attention often lavished on talented younger brothers, but if Sam has been a sizzling stir-fry full of life and promise, Tom has been the long, slow roast, treasured for his traditional bowling virtues. It is worth remarking that even the Older One is still only 21.

Curran claimed 10 wickets in the two four-day matches at an average of less than 19, including 4 for 38 to turn a heavy defeat into a nervy three-wicket near-miss in the second game in Dambulla on Monday when Sri Lanka A lost seven wickets while making 90 to square the series.

That follows good performances when the Lions played the UAE and Afghanistan at the end of their training camp in Dubai before Christmas. He also stood out in his first winter away with the Lions in 2015-16, in both the T20s and the 50-over series against Pakistan A.

Alec Stewart, Surrey's director of cricket - old-school stickler that he is - can barely pass a pair of pads without whitening them. It was Stewart who advised Curran to get down to the hairdressers to remove his man-bun before he became the Cricket Writers' Club Young Player of the Year, on the grounds that he would not want to look back one day and regret it. Since then, his on-field displays have been the very essence of reliability. Stewart will be able to observe the photographs that will follow his call-up with a growing sense of pride.

"I've felt in a good place with the ball over the last few months which is where you want to be - and to get a few wickets in the four-dayers," Curran said.

"It's happened as quick as a text. I wasn't expecting it straight after the four-dayers. It's all pretty surreal right now. But I'm giddy, I can't wait to get out there."

Curran left the Lions' rural retreat to the north of Dambulla at lunchtime on a minibus bound for Colombo Airport. Considering the queues just down the road in Kurunegala, a notorious traffic blackspot since the rapid growth of Sri Lanka's tourist industry and economy (never mind the official advice that he should arrive at the airport five hours before a flight because of runway resurfacing), it was a fair bet that his patience would be tested even before he began the exhausting round-the-world journey to catch up with his England team-mates in the Caribbean. After all that is over, he will be expected to hit a length without a second thought.

He was accompanied by the four players who were selected for the two four-day matches against Sri Lanka A but not the five-match one-day series, which begins on Thursday - Haseeb Hameed, who is set to undergo a sinus operation; Tom Westley, the Essex batsman whose stock has risen here; Nick Gubbins and Jack Leach, who will return to Somerset for some meaningful conversations about a rebuilt action about which, his figures suggest, he is not yet entirely comfortable.

There was to have been another player on that minibus, but Toby Roland-Jones will now stay with the Lions for the one-day series. When the tour began, as their selection indicated, England were yet to be persuaded by Roland-Jones' limited-overs potential even though they were aware of his destructive batting talents in the lower middle order; a workmanlike seamer, he gave the impression of being too easy to measure up.

Since then, Roland Jones has also been called into the South squad for the North-South one-day series in the Middle East as a replacement for the injured Matt Coles, meaning an extra fortnight in Sri Lanka followed by an unexpected week in the UAE.

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • fidlerrralbert on March 2, 2017, 16:52 GMT

    @fieldy56 - I assume you are new to this site...? Otherwise you would know by now that everyone has their own opinion, and if you try to ram your agenda down peoples throats without listening to the views of others, it will ultimately be unsuccessful. People will refrain from listening to your views at all.

  • fieldy56 on March 2, 2017, 14:22 GMT

    @PHOENICIAN1984 thanks for qualifying and good luck with the colts. As someone who has committed themselves to supporting cricket at all levels, including some of the players that I mentioned on my list, as a watcher of cricket far longer than you, and as a father of someone who has committed themselves to giving back to cricket by coaching youngsters whilst also playing, I applaud you, even though I do not agree with the attitude "around Surrey". @DEZZYDEZDEZZER you are right, I do have an agenda. That is to support impartiality in cricket at all levels, because it is the worst sport in England for nepotism and unfairness of opportunity. "am in agreement with the others"...just reflects your ignorance and an underlying bullying mentality, enough said. Don't proofread as a career;) @NUTCUTLET...have a nice day;)

  • Phoenician1984 on March 2, 2017, 12:30 GMT

    Oh dear. To put 'my arrogant comment' into context. I am in fact someone who hails from Middlesex and as such I support them. However, I live & now play in Surrey and have coached in the area. Surrey CC members have this strong view and let's be honest whether you like it or not, we all know they shall both be fast tracked into the England side. Think of their heritage etc. It doesn't make it right, but simply that having watched Test Cricket since 1977, you get to know the type who will be picked at a young age. Also personally as someone who Manages the colts set up at a small club in Surrey, the existing system of recruiting from a different continent really annoys me as we are supposed to feed the County. However, that is the way cricket in England is, you can list players from other counties who are extremely worthy, but these two young lads were ear marked for England quite some time ago.

  • dezzydezdezer on March 1, 2017, 19:30 GMT

    fieldy - have read through the comments as your request and am in agreement with the others that both the article & their subsequent comments are about the selection of seamers to replace the injured Ball. It appears that you have your own agenda.

  • Nutcutlet on March 1, 2017, 18:34 GMT

    Fieldy56: I think you just enjoy being contentious! You are right (which you knew already!) and all the rest of us are dunderheads who just don't quite catch your drift - and most certainly know less than you - and thus have lightweight opinions. As an ex-teacher, I always found humour and tolerance a good way forward. And I was/still am happy to be instructed. But I haven't been!

  • fieldy56 on March 1, 2017, 17:10 GMT

    ...also, @NUTCUTLET, when did I ever allude to the article (other than the separate issue of who replaces Matt Coles in the South v North, but I think my confusion there was with Craig replacing him in the Champion County match, not the South v North) which you say I misunderstand and that you feel sorry for me? I have only ever alluded to that very first comment by PHOENICIAN1984, or have I missed something? Don't understand the "gentle irony" that you allude to either? I think the same probably applies to Middlesex as to Surrey ...no irony???

  • fieldy56 on March 1, 2017, 16:45 GMT

    @NUTCUTLET...I would tell you that Keaton Jennings who you described as "not a bowler - so not relevant here", but have now changed to "I am well aware of Keaton Jennings nippy pace....it seems England is not taking that aspect of his cricketing skills seriously"...he has actually bowled, for England, in a Test match!! My use of first person singular to describe an approach to scanning and not taking in full detail has clearly flummoxed you...sorry I'll (that's me!) keep it simple in future;) @ DEZZYDEZDEZER...you've arrived later in the discussions...if you read back, carefully, you will see that I have said ad nauseam that my response was about an attitude and was in defence of the many players aspiring to play for England, in addition to the Currans. Others talk of seam and now. That's why I have included many that are currently unavailable, as you correctly point out. It was about aspiring to play for England which PHOENICEAN1984 alluded, in the future, to which I responded.

  • fieldy56 on March 1, 2017, 16:43 GMT

    @NUTCUTLET...I would tell you that Keaton Jennings who you described as "not a bowler - so not relevant here", but have now changed to "I am well aware of Keaton Jennings nippy pace....it seems England is not taking that aspect of his cricketing skills seriously"...he has actually bowled, for England, in a Test match!! My use of first person singular to describe an approach to scanning and not taking in full detail has clearly flummoxed you...sorry I'll (that's me!) keep it simple in future;) @ DEZZYDEZDEZER...you've arrived later in the discussions...if you read back, carefully, you will see that I have said ad nauseam that my response was about an attitude and was in defence of the many players aspiring to play for England, in addition to the Currans. Others talk of seam and now. That's why I have included many that are currently unavailable, as you correctly point out. It was about aspiring to play for England which PHOENICEAN1984 alluded, in the future, to which I responded.

  • dezzydezdezer on March 1, 2017, 14:58 GMT

    Fair selection. Of the 17 alternatives mentioned by fieldy only 11 are relevant (a reasonably like for like replacement), and of those TRJ & Craig Overton were probably the only other serious contenders, as most of the other seamers either won't have played much cricket recently or are out injured (eg Wood, Jamie Overton, Fisher).

  • Nutcutlet on March 1, 2017, 14:30 GMT

    Fieldy56: I am well aware of Keaton Jennings' nippy medium pace. I watched him bowl very well at The Riverside last Sept. Unfortunately, despite his possible batting all-rounder capabilies, it seems that England is not taking that aspect of his cricketing skills seriously (but I think he should be used as a fourth change). As I am sure you will understand I thought the focus here was on the seam-bowler reservoir, given that this article is about TC's surprise call up. To add to the discussion, I've been wondering how TC has leapfrogged Toby R-J. I can only think that it was Flower's call. He is a very shrewd judge and he will have seen them both on the current tour of SL. Prior to this tour, I'd have thought the Middx man was ahead - he's certainly more experienced. As you have intimated, Surrey players can seem to get to the head of the queue rather too slickly, but the identical criticism is often made about players from Lord's. There's a gentle irony here, perhaps? Keep firing!

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