Sam Curran channelled his Trent Bridge disappointment into much-needed runs for England on his Test recall against India in Southampton.
Curran, man of the match in the Specsavers series opener at Edgbaston at the start of a series which stands at 2-1 to the hosts with two to play, dug them out of a hole on day one at the Ageas Bowl with his second half-century in three innings.
Between them, he was the fall guy in Nottingham to accommodate the return of Ben Stokes – a turn of events which he refuses to dwell on with any negativity.
The upshot was a career-best 78 from No 8 as the 20-year-old all-rounder’s stands of 81 with Moeen Ali and then 63 with Stuart Broad helped England recover from a hapless 86-6 against the swinging ball to a still under-par 246 all out.
Asked if his absence the previous week had galvanised him, Curran said: “I was disappointed, but at the same time took it as a positive.
“I wasn’t proving a point at all – I was just playing the way I do, naturally and freely and with no fear.”
Curran did not reference Stokes, instead reasoning that he could hardly expect to get the nod ahead of Chris Woakes – who had just made a match-winning century in the second Test at Lord’s, and is missing here only because of injury.
“You can’t really leave someone out who’s got a hundred,” added Curran. “It’s just a great squad at the minute, and everyone is fighting for their places.
“I’m not going to change the way I play – it’s just who I am. I was unlucky obviously last week to miss out.”
Curran absolved England’s misfiring top order of collective blame for their collapse after Joe Root chose to bat first – citing difficult batting conditions and the skill of an India attack led by Jasprit Bumrah.
I was disappointed, but at the same time took it as a positive. I wasn’t proving a point at all – I was just playing the way I do, naturally and freely and with no fear.England’s Sam Curran
“It was pretty tough – it swung massively throughout the day, I found,” he said. “There were some very good balls in there, to a lot of the top order – they got some very good ones.”
“But we worry (only) about the end result. We managed to get 246 which, from 86-6 looks a decent score now, with how much the wicket has done and how much it has swung.”
India closed on 19-0 from just four overs at the start of their reply. Bumrah is hoping, unlike Curran of course, that the tourists can cash in on their fine start as they try to level the series.
He said: “If you’d told us in the morning that we’d get them out for 250, we’d have taken that any day.
“You can’t be too greedy and expect too much - ‘Oh, they’re 80-5, so you should get them out for 100.’”