‘Adaptable’ Sam Curran embraces multi-purpose role at England with ‘open mind’

Sam Curran was ruled out of last year’s T20 World Cup through injury two weeks before the tournament began, and he is not taking his involvement in the 2022 edition in Australia for granted.

Curran was only a peripheral member of the limited-overs set-up when England picked their 50-over squad in 2019 and suffered a lower-back stress fracture while playing in the IPL in the build-up to last year’s tournament in the UAE.

Just over a month before their first game of the 2022 edition, against Afghanistan on October 22, he is anxious not to put the mockers on himself. “I don’t actually want to talk about it too much,” he said, laughing, when asked about playing in a World Cup for the first time.

“I missed the last one. I need to get through this series and then hopefully, when I’m in Australia, I can be excited about it. The biggest thing this summer was getting my body through it… the priority now is the World Cup.”

Curran spent the English summer focusing on white-ball cricket, working closely with Surrey and England’s medical teams to ease him back from injury. He made five Championship appearances but with restrictions on his workload – he bowled just 41 overs – and decided with the ECB in August to focus on short-form cricket ahead of the World Cup.

“I didn’t bowl much for Surrey at all,” he said. “The most I bowled in a game was 20 overs [24] and it felt like the sensible option. The Test team were flying at the time so my focus was purely on the World Cup and trying to have a good Hundred, to keep performing and to get my body right.”

Curran has not played Test cricket in over a year but a strong T20I tour to Pakistan would put him in the frame for the three-match series here in December. “I’m still pretty young so I want to play as much as I can,” he said.

“You’ve seen guys who are choosing to rest in certain periods because there is quite a lot of cricket. For me right now, coming off a six-month lay-off with injury, I want to play all formats if I can.”

He was used up the order in short-form cricket this season, first by Surrey in the Blast and then by Oval Invincibles in the Hundred, but England’s top-order logjam means that he is more likely to come in as a finisher during the World Cup.

“I’m trying to be as adaptable as possible. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of rotation: guys coming back from injury, newer guys coming in. My role might vary as guys come back or guys come in. The role I’m given is just to contribute with the ball when I bowl and when I’m batting.

“That may be lower down the order here but I guess it’s about adapting to conditions. I don’t think about it too much at Surrey or in the Hundred because I had pretty set roles but with England, naturally I do because we’ve got so many allrounders who can be adaptable.

“I might get sent up as a floater to take on different types of bowlers. Whenever I do play for England, I play with an open mind. You don’t just want to be a cricketer whose set for one role which I think is one of my strengths: to be as adaptable [as possible] for the captain and for guys in the team.”

It is four-and-a-half years since Curran made his international debut against Pakistan and he is looking forward to playing against some familiar faces on his first trip to the country. “Most of the Pakistan guys I know,” he said. “I played against a few of them at the Under-19 World Cup, like Shadab [Khan]. He’s a fantastic player.

“This is a great chance for myself and most of our players – even guys that aren’t in the World Cup squad – to stake a claim, keep knocking down the door; but also just to be here, be involved with a pretty historic trip to Pakistan and take it all in.”

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98

(With Inputs from ESPN)

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