“GOT the looks, got the gel, got the quality.”
Whether Michael Vaughan was listing Tom Curran’s attributes in order of priority, after the Surrey man took 5-35 to help England win the one-day series 4-1, is open to question in a superficial world.
But there was no hiding the former England captain’s admiration for the 22-year-old, whose maiden international five-wicket haul was the difference as England won by 12 runs in Perth.
Vaughan, summarising events on satellite television, said that he particularly enjoyed the young man’s energy.
It was evident, he felt, in the way that Curran celebrated the final wicket, peeling away, arms outstretched like an aircraft and joyfully mouthing the words “That’s why” – as he apparently does in such moments of triumph, for reasons unclear.
Never let a bowler’s celebration or his hair gel get in the way of the story, however, and Vaughan’s final point – that Curran has “got the quality” – is, of course, the salient one.
He is not express pace. Indeed, the hair gel does not have to be super-strength to hold the blond locks in place as he runs in to bowl, but he is still fast enough to ensure that he would comfortably activate a motorway speed camera.
On the surface, the superficial exterior, Curran is perhaps something of an acquired taste, unless one is a fan of what Vaughan neatly described as “the Surrey strut”.
There is a hint of arrogance about him – all the best sportsmen have it, don’t you know –and he is another youngster who clearly does not lack self-belief.
Listen to him talk, however, as he did when collecting the man-of-the-match award from former Australia captain Mark Taylor, and there is much to like about Curran, his manners and his modesty.
Indeed, like many alpha males born in South Africa, Curran – son of former Zimbabwe all-rounder Kevin and brother of fellow Surrey all-rounder Sam – seems naturally self-confident, a trait that will no doubt serve him well.
Whether his pace is quite enough to ensure a long Test career remains to be seen. Curran let no one down when he played the last two games of the Ashes series. But two wickets at an average of 100 were a tough introduction, and it is likely that his chief value to England will be in the white-ball format, where clever variations and a competitive spirit could take him far.
Perhaps the best thing about him is that he is a wicket-taker, the type of player who seems to make something happen through enthusiasm and the unwillingness to take a backward step.
That was evident in the Ashes, when he had a verbal spat with David Warner aka “The Reverend”. Confronted by the absurd Australia vice-captain, even the Archbishop of Canterbury might struggle to keep a lid on emotions, but the quality to which Vaughan referred spoke louder than words yesterday when Curran began his wicket-taking spree by yorking Warner with a fine delivery.
Never let a bowler’s celebration or his hair gel get in the way of the story, however, and Vaughan’s final point – that Curran has “got the quality” – is, of course, the salient one.Chris Waters
Reverse-swing did for Glenn Maxwell, trapped lbw, before Curran moved one away from Mitchell Starc, who edged behind. As Australia made a mess of chasing England’s below-par 259, collapsing from 189-4 to 247, Curran rounded things off by bowling Adam Zampa and Tim Paine, with only Marcus Stoinis’s 87 detaining England for too long before he was caught by Curran –who else? – at long-on.
There were three wickets for Moeen Ali, including a remarkable one-handed reflex grab off his own bowling to dismiss Mitchell Marsh. Stoinis’s dismissal began the collapse, but it was not until Curran removed Maxwell and Starc that the tourists sniffed blood.
Only Joe Root (62) reached a half-century in England’s innings, Andrew Tye returning 5-46 on a day when the Indian Premier League made him a dollar millionaire.
There were useful contributions from openers Jason Roy (49) and Jonny Bairstow (44), but England had been cruising to defeat before Curran intervened.
Curran led a pace attack missing all first-choice components. Mark Wood and Chris Woakes were rested to give Jake Ball and David Willey opportunities, with Curran only playing because Liam Plunkett pulled a hamstring earlier in the series.
It shows the depth of England’s one-day resources, and this win showed their fighting spirit. To win comfortably when you are playing well is clearly satisfying; to win tensely when you have had to dig deep is perhaps even sweeter.