Sam Curran says he was shocked with the chatter at the start of the week speculating that the end was nigh for James Anderson.
Though the man himself quashed that talk earlier in the week, his actions on day one of the second Test against Pakistan did the job just as well. Bowling at an average speed of 85mph – the quickest he has charted in a Test since 2014 – the 38-year old was the pick of England’s four-man seam attack, taking two for 35 as the tourists were reduced to 126 for five by stumps.
Curran himself pitched in with a wicket from his 10 overs of left-arm seam removing opener Abid Ali, who had twice been dropped before reaching 60.
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He was drafted into the squad to replace Jofra Archer, who was rested, while Zak Crawley came in to strengthen the batting in the absence of Ben Stokes. The call would officially come in on Thursday morning after a nod that he was in contention on Wednesday evening from his captain, Joe Root.
Having observed three of the four previous Tests from his hotel room within the bio-secure bubble, he has also kept track of the discourse, particularly around Anderson after the veteran took just one wicket in the previous Test.
“I was pretty shocked with all the stuff that was going on about him,” said Curran. “Obviously he’s a world-class bowler and anyone who doubts him isn’t very sensible. He proved again today how world class he is and approaching 600 is really exciting for all of us. I’m just enjoying having him around and learning from him. He was out there helping me through my spells. Picking their brains is great for me. He showed his class. I’m sure he’ll go on to get his five-fer and then hopefully 600.”
Curran’s last appearance came a month ago in the second Test against West Indies. England would win by 113 runs to square the series, eventually completing a 2-1 win a week later.
The allrounder took three wickets in the match, including Shamarh Brooks on 62 during the fourth-innings chase of 312. Mostly, though, he has been an observer, unable to return to his county as he usually would to get competitive playing time under his belt. That in itself has presented a unique challenge.
“It’s a tricky situation when you don’t play I guess you don’t get to go and perform for you’d county and try and enjoy it. You obviously don’t get selected and you’re back to your hotel room. Things like that are very different.
“But we’ve got such a great squad at the minute, we’re gelling together really nice and the boys are lifting the guys that are not playing and keeping them involved. It’s very strange times but it’s going to be new normal for a while.”
Though steady progress has been made, the days ahead may play out like this one, with showers and lightning punctuating the play at regular intervals. Stumps was eventually called after the players left the field following a shower at 4:57pm, with only 45.4 overs of play possible. Curran is optimistic that there will be enough pockets of dry weather for England to force a result that will hand them a series win over Pakistan for the first time since 2010.
“It was good bowling conditions out there and I thought we bowled really nicely. The rain forecast isn’t looking too good but, hopefully, it keeps away and we can push on towards getting some big runs and hopefully winning the game.”