Can the Currans secure England spots ahead of an exciting winter?

After facing each other in the IPL, the Curran brothers are firmly back alongside one another this summer for Surrey and the Oval Invincibles… but will they both secure England spots with an exciting winter on the horizon?

  • Sam and Tom Curran have played on the same side for England and Surrey 
  • They are both set to add The Hundred’s Oval Invincibles side to that list of teams 
  • Both are aiming for England places ahead of the T20 World Cup this winter
  • Currans are in Eoin Morgan’s squad for the white-ball series against Sri Lanka

The Curran brothers are no strangers to sibling rivalry — they’re just used to it being played out on a more private stage.

The pair have come up against each other in the Indian Premier League twice in the last two years, with Tom playing for the Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Capitals and his younger brother Sam playing for the Chennai Super Kings.

But both admit that they’re far happier playing alongside each other — for England, Surrey and soon the Oval Invincibles in this summer’s Hundred — than they are facing off in the public glare of the world’s biggest T20 competition.

Sam (L) and Tom Curran are playing alongside each other for Surrey and the Oval Invincibles 

The Currans have featured this week for Surrey in the T20 Blast ahead of a busy summer  

Not because it was daunting — more because the sight of his brother Sam at the other end nearly gave Tom a fit of giggles midway through his run-up.

‘As soon as I saw his face at the other end I just wanted to laugh,’ Tom tells Sportsmail. ‘It was such a weird, weird thing, playing against him. I’m just glad he’s on my team again now.

‘To be honest, whatever plans I did have for bowling to him went completely out of the window as soon as I saw his face! It was more the case of just going with my gut. My thought processes were a bit clouded when I saw him batting there. All those backyard memories were taking over my thinking.

‘Of course, when you’re playing in the garden, you can’t be out! There’s an always excuse! As the elder brother, I had the upper hand in those first few years in the backyard but I guess he is one up in the actual games now. Mind you, he’s owed me one because I never went easy on him growing up.’

While Tom, 26, struggled to keep a straight face, Sam cracked a wide grin after smashing his brother for 22 off the eight balls he faced from him back in April — including consecutive sixes. He didn’t hold back after the match either, with WhatsApp messages flying between the two as soon as the game had finished.

Sam, 23, cuts in: ‘It was one of those moments where you take a bit of time and have a think about all those games you used to play in the garden against each other.

Both are preparing for England’s white ball series against Sri Lanka which starts next week 

‘To be playing against each other in a tournament like the IPL is something that stays with you. I had sent him a message before the game and told him that I knew where he was going to bowl to me. I had a gut feeling about what was going to happen but I had to go out there and treat him like any other bowler.’

Now, as both prepare for England’s white-ball series against Sri Lanka which starts next week and look forward to next month’s Hundred, they can reflect on just how far they have come since they would play together on the outfield of the Northamptonshire ground where their father Kevin played his county cricket, and middle brother Ben still does.

Back then, the notion of a career playing Twenty20 cricket would have been seen as a flight of fancy. And a competition of a Hundred balls? Even more far-fetched.

Curran Jr (R) with Jason Roy with the Invincibles shirt on at The Hundred’s launch in 2019 

Both, though, have done very well out of the former and will be key players for the Oval Invincibles in the latter when it finally gets under way in July.

‘I can’t wait, I think it’s going to be amazing,’ says Tom. ‘Our team has stayed pretty similar (despite the 12-month delay to the tournament due to Covid) and the chat in and among the boys has been booming for a while.

‘Playing at the Oval and having a core of Surrey players around that side and a franchise-based competition with fewer teams and better players is going to be fantastic. I’m sure the crowds will be back and flying into those games and it’s going to be so, so exciting. At the end of the day, you’re going to be watching the best players in the world and the matches are going to be a bit shorter. I think it’s a win-win.’

But first up is the Sri Lanka T20 and ODI series, which gets under way in Cardiff next Wednesday. And for the younger sibling, Sam, it offers another opportunity to cement his place in the side across all three formats and the chance to remind England that he can contribute with bat as well as ball this summer.

He took England to the brink of a famous 50-over win against India in Pune back in March, scoring 95 not out as Eoin Morgan’s side came up just seven runs short in an epic run chase as they reached 322 for nine, chasing 330 to win. Batting at eight, Curran had come in at 168 for six.

The brothers kiss the County Championship trophy after Surrey’s triumph back in 2018 

‘I was probably the last of the recognised batsmen at the time,’ Sam says. ‘There were still 25 overs to go when I came in so we just took it in chunks of overs just to see where we could get to.

‘To be fair, I thought we had it in the bag when we got to the last over needing 14 to win because it was quite a short boundary on the one side. I wasn’t backing him (left-arm seamer T Natarajan) to bowl so many yorkers.

‘To get so close was almost worse than not getting anywhere near that target but it was one of those that you could take an awful lot of confidence and belief from. I hadn’t played much for the 50-over side but it does give you the confidence that you belong in that team.’

Tom will be targeting a place in England’s T20 World Cup squad having featured for Morgan’s white-ball side in both formats over the past 18 months.

The pair have toured abroad with England and both are now targeting the T20 World Cup

His main wish, though, is not to be part of another Covid-secure bubble any time soon, having experienced it throughout 2020 before pulling out of the Big Bash back in December.

‘Getting to Australia would have been a two-week quarantine when I got there and another Christmas away from family and friends,’ he says. ‘Being part of a bubble for six months and then looking beyond the Big Bash would have been another six months to a year.

‘I love the Big Bash, it has been so great to me and I can’t wait to go back there again, but I think it was a sensible decision.’

And now the sensible thing to do is to turn attentions to the three T20s and three ODIs to come against Sri Lanka — with the focus for the Curran brothers being on getting the opposition out, rather than each other.

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