On one hand it was a memorable 2018 season for Tom Curran – part of Surrey’s first County Championship title since 2002 – but on an international front his England career stalled due to injury ruling him out of the entire white-ball campaign.
With the World Cup looming, he is desperate to get back into England’s starting XI for the series against Sri Lanka. They will be missing first-choice picks from the home season in Liam Plunkett (for the first three matches) and David Willey, though the uncapped Olly Stone was given the first chance to impress in the one warm-up match that escaped the rain.
“I came back from the IPL and picked up a couple of niggles when we were playing Australia so that was very frustrating but at the same time you get time to reflect and set goals,” Curran told Sky Sports. “It’s hard to think too far ahead, but it’s [also] hard not to think of the World Cup so it will just be about small steps – get in the side for the first ODI, push on in this series, take that through to West Indies and then next summer.”
Before his injury-hit season, Curran had enjoyed a run in the one-day side on the tours of Australia and New Zealand, taking a matchwinning five-wicket haul against in Perth and becoming a go-to man at the death for Eoin Morgan where he also helped close out a tight victory in Wellington.
“There was that five-wicket haul against Australia which was almost ‘right, you can do it at this level’ – when you make your debut there will be nerves, more about doing it on this stage – now it’s about making it permanent in the side so I’m one of the first bowlers on the team sheet,” he said.
The death-overs could well be a role entrusted to him again on this tour, but if selected for the opening match in Dambulla he will start without any middle time on the trip after the second warm-up match was washed out. It may not be long until cabin fever sets in among the squad with torrential rain – unsurprising given the series is being played during the monsoon season – also greeting them on arrival in Dambulla on Sunday but the quick bowlers, especially, are already well aware of the demanding conditions they will face.
“It’s not ideal but we’ve just come off the back of a full summer so it’s not like we are short of game time,” he said. “We had a couple of good net sessions in that heat, it’s not ideal in terms of overs in the feet but it is what it is. I bowled for 45 minutes on one of the sessions which is just over six overs and it was tough but at the same time you do adapt. It won’t get worse than the first session.”
This series also throws up the prospect of the Curran brothers – Sam is part of the squad – appearing in an England side together for the first time. Sam made his ODI debut against Australia during the home season, but it was in the Tests he really impressed with the Player-of-the-Series award against India.
“It all happened so quickly,” Tom reflected. “One day you are playing in the garden together and the next thing you are watching him to do it in a Test match. I’m so proud and hopefully it’s just the start.”