Youth is said to be wasted on the young. Not so the Curran brothers, Tom and Sam; Surrey’s trailblazing all-rounders who have every intention of realising their vast potential and ambitions.
Sam picked up his A-level results just weeks ago, on the same day as Surrey’s One-Day Cup quarter-final win at Northamptonshire. He was debating whether to wait until after the clash to learn his fate as a tough Business Studies paper had been worrying him.
There are no such concerns when the 18-year-old tears in with a menacing look on his face to open the bowling for his county, a feat he repeated alongside Tom – three years his senior – for the England Lions in July.
The pair shot to prominence in 2015 by sharing all 10 wickets in a single County Championship innings. Tom, the other half of Surrey’s opening red-ball partnership, ended a promotion-winning campaign with 76 scalps. The same number earned team-mate Mark Footitt an England call-up.
A second Lord’s final in as many summers awaits Surrey on 17 September, while a title charge remains a possibility. The Currans are getting used to the big stage, which may augur well for the future. Their huge promise has seen both tipped for international honours, something they are neither ignorant of nor intimidated by.
“Hopefully we can achieve the dream of doing what we’ve done for Surrey for England over a long period of time. That’s the ultimate and that’s what we’re working hard to achieve,” Tom tells City A.M.
“We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves but if we can keep doing our thing then hopefully the rest takes care of itself, whether that be in the next year, next two years, whenever.
“Playing for the Lions gives you the sense that you’re not actually as far away as you think. It’s exciting. It’s small steps but if we keep training and performing well then hopefully the world is our oyster.”
Teenager Sam is relieved that school work is now a thing of the past, but remains grateful to Wellington College, who worked with Surrey director of cricket Alec Stewart to balance his commitments.
The left-arm seamer admits to the odd pinch-yourself moment following a meteoric rise which began with him becoming the youngest player to take five wickets on his Championship debut. His exploits earned a nomination for BBC young sports personality of the year.
“It was crazy. I was almost a rookie shout to begin with and they just chucked me in,” says Northampton-born Sam, who scored a career-best first-class knock of 96 against Lancashire last week.
“I went straight into this big world, which helped as I didn’t have time to think about it. At the end of the season I went back to school thinking ‘did that really just happen?’. Now and again, lying in bed, I still think ‘is this actually happening?’.”
The intrepid pair crave fighting the fight together. While an in-house battle has been raging to see who gets the nod to bat higher in the order, it’s very much a family affair and any sibling rivalry is channelled accordingly.
“One day we might have to compete for places but that’s up to the other bloke to sharpen up and knock someone else out the team so we’re both together,” adds Tom.
Yet for two young men with the world at their feet and everything seemingly in their favour, life has not been without its tragedy. Their father Kevin, a former Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire and Zimbabwe all-rounder, died of a heart attack, aged 53, while out jogging in October 2012.
“We’re glad that’s behind us. We stuck together as a family and we’ll crack on,” says Tom, who was born in Cape Town. “We have many inspirations but we think a lot about him when we’re playing and if he was here he would be very proud. We know he’s watching us from up top.”
The Currans grew up in Zimbabwe, where their father pursued a coaching career, and Tom was spotted by former Surrey captain Ian Greig in 2012, taking six wickets and scoring 40-odd runs in a schools tournament while boarding in South Africa.
Greig’s tip-off to Surrey triggered a sequence of events that ended with a place at Wellington College later that year. Kevin’s passing prompted an offer of scholarships for all three Curran boys, including middle brother Ben, who is part of Surrey’s second XI.
Despite now accelerating through the early stages of a professional cricket career, their childhoods are never too far from discussions about development, and in particular backyard cricket.
“I’m the youngest so I always had to bowl the longest,” says Sam. Tom interjects: “That’s a lie, mate, you always used to bat.”
Sam continues: “We had a net in our garden and always made it as hard as possible. We’d put mats down and imitate playing in India.”
Tom adds: “We used to imitate cricketers for hours on end.”
The days of imitation are long gone. The Currans are now dancing to the beat of their own drum and whatever the future holds it is unlikely that any backward steps will be taken.
“I don’t fear,” says Tom. “If you do, it will get exposed. You can’t teach that, it’s just a mentality which I like to think we both have. If we do our best, with the hours we put in, then more than likely we’ll come off on top.”