Tom Curran reflected on a “rollercoaster” experience in Australia after he bagged 5 for 35 to lead England to a stirring 12-run victory in Perth in a contest that seemed to be slipping away from them.
Although the series had been decided in Sydney, England were desperate not to let Australia take another victory following their success in Adelaide on Australia Day. Their 259 was a far from overwhelming total, albeit on an unknown surface being used for the first time at the new Perth stadium, and when Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell took the chase to 4 for 189 it appeared Australia would get home.
However, Stoinis picked out long-on against Adil Rashid 13 short of a century then Curran burst through the rest of Australia’s batting. He removed Maxwell and Mitchell Starc in three deliveries then castled Adam Zampa and Tim Paine after Australia’s wicketkeeper had kept the chase alive.
Curran made his Test debut in Melbourne after replacing the injured Steven Finn early in the tour, having been planning to only arrive for the Big Bash where he had a deal with Hobart Hurricanes, and only earned his chance in this series after Liam Plunkett’s hamstring strain.
“It’s been crazy, really,” Curran said. “It’s been a rollercoaster, but that’s what happens. I’m just trying to take it all in, been an unbelievable couple of months.”
Curran, whose brother Sam will be part of the England squad for the T20 tri-series, has built his white-ball reputation on the back of some nerveless displays for Surrey and said he was someone who always wanted to be in the thick of the action with games in the balance.
“That’s why we train as players, you want to be asked to perform in the big moments and involved when it can go either way. That’s when you get the most satisfaction. What a stadium, what a day and what a team to be a part of.”
His captain, Eoin Morgan, praised Curran’s ability to slot into the side with limited bowling under his belt after only having three overs in the warm-up match before the series then carrying drinks for the first three games.
“You look for guys to take their chance and it’s not easy to do particularly when you haven’t played for a while,” Morgan said. “To come in at a stage of the game where it was in the balance, we’d got Stoinis out at the other end and to get Maxwell did swing the momentum quite nicely.”
England finished the series by fielding an attack without their three frontlines quicks – Plunkett, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood – which means Curran is far from assured of a starting place when England next play one-day cricket in New Zealand. He admitted he was not a good watcher when on the sidelines but appreciated the depth England have.
“It is very frustrating, but that’s a great place to be as a side,” he said. “If you are getting left out and are happy about that, don’t think international sport is the place for you. That’s a motivator for you.”
Jake Ball, another of the quicks given a chance when England shuffled their pack for the final match, was hit by dizziness towards the end of the chase and Morgan was almost left needing to hurriedly call on Joe Root with the match in the balance. At the end of his eighth over, Ball could barely stand and was then led off the field by the team doctor before managing to return to bowl his final two overs.
“He was feeling very dizzy and nauseous and couldn’t really keep his balance, he had to lay down. That was a big concern,” Morgan said. “The doctors got him off and did a great job to get him through that one over, gave him confidence to hold things down and run in a straight line which was key for us because we’d have had to go to Joe which would have been a big moment.
“Once your heart rate goes down you lose momentum and adrenalin starts to come down and that it’s a problem so there was a risk, but I don’t think he could have stayed on the field in his condition. He was reluctant to go off but we had no choice.”
When Australia’s eighth wicket fell they still needed 57 to win, but England made closing out the match tougher for themselves as Alex Hales spilled Paine in the deep (Jonny Bairstow also spilled Andrew Tye moments earlier) while there were ground-fielding errors which Morgan conceded will need to be addressed.
“It’s certainly something we’ll discuss. They are mistakes we shouldn’t make. Maybe if it was a half chance, we’d say on another day we’d catch but, in crucial moments you want to be taking them because they don’t come very often.”
Still, Morgan’s concerns were small compared to Steven Smith’s. However, when asked to critique Australia’s showing over the series, he took a diplomatic approach. “Not my job to comment on, that’s their job to assess their performance.”