BY MARCUS HOOK
Sam Curran says it is still sinking in that he is now a Test cricketer. The Surrey all-rounder, who turned 20 on the day England romped to an innings and 55-run victory over Pakistan on Sunday, celebrated his surprise call up for the Second Test with a couple of wickets and a stylish 20 with the bat.
Curran was enjoying a day off playing golf when he got the call from England’s chairman of selectors to say he was needed in Leeds as cover for Ben Stokes, who had strained a hamstring.
Sam said: “On Wednesday afternoon, I was just walking off the golf course with a couple of the Surrey boys around four o’clock and I got a call from a random number.
“Ed Smith was on the phone. I was like: ‘What’s he calling me for?’ and he told me the good news. So it was straight in the taxi and straight up the M1 to Headingley.
“Then Joe Root gave me a call on Thursday evening and said: ‘Get your head on, there’s a big chance you’re going to play.’ It wasn’t one hundred per cent, but I had to get into the mindset. Unfortunately, it turned out Stokesy was injured and that gave me my chance.”
Curran added: “It still feels like I’m dreaming. It only sank in after ten overs. Sitting next to Jonny Bairstow in the dressing room beforehand and then standing at fine leg watching Broad and Anderson taking wickets, I was thinking: ‘This is pretty cool.'”
“Growing up, I’ve watched them on TV, so, to be playing with them, was pretty surreal. Obviously, it was a great day for me personally to get my cap, but it was just great to be a part of the team and be around those guys. Broady and Jimmy have taken so many wickets for England.
“I was pretty nervous when I first came on to bowl, standing at the top of my mark. After my first two balls I thought: ‘This could be a long day.’ But once I hit my straps and got used to the slope, which I found quite challenging, it got better and better and I started hitting my length consistently.
“Getting a first innings lead was massive, in terms of putting Pakistan under pressure, but just to contribute was nice. For me it was just about taking it all in and enjoying the occasion.”
Curran’s first Test wicket came courtesy of catch at cow corner, not that he minded. “In two years’ time I’m going to claim it was caught at first slip off an absolute jaffa,” he said. “But, no, it was one of those that no one is going to take off of me, so I’ll take it any day.”
Curran added it was also an honour to be handed his Test cap by Graham Thorpe. “Funnily enough he gave me my England Lions cap last year at Canterbury,” said Sam. “But it was even more special to get it from a Surrey legend. He just said to me: ‘Go out there, treat it like any other game and get stuck in.’ I’m a pretty competitive person, so if it’s in front of me I like to take it with both hands and get involved in the battle, which I think I did.”