Ryan Sidebottom was gushing in his praise for Sam Curran after the left-arm seam-bowling all-rounder played an instrumental role in inspiring England to a second T20 World Cup crown.
Curran was named player of the tournament for his 13 wickets in six matches, averaging a breakthrough every 10.4 balls while his control was also excellent as he went at just 6.52 an over.
The 24-year-old laid the foundations for England’s five-wicket victory over Pakistan in Sunday’s final at the MCG, taking three for 12 and leaking just a combined seven runs in the 17th and 19th overs.
His execution at the death has been particularly impressive and Sidebottom, whose left-arm swing helped to shape England’s 2010 triumph, lauded Curran for his knack for making an impact at crucial moments.
Sidebottom told the PA news agency: “He’s just very confident and he has that self-belief. I think if you have that, along with talent, you can go a lot further.
“He’s a big-game player, he does it time and time again, and when things are maybe not going England’s way, he comes on and takes few wickets.
“He’s just one those players, he really is, he’s a fantastic cricketer who just makes things happen. He’s had a brilliant tournament.”
Sidebottom, who worked with Curran during his spell as Surrey bowling consultant in 2018, feared the loss of Reece Topley just before the tournament due to injury might have hampered England’s campaign.
Curran does not fit the mould of quicks who have typically shone in Australia as he is 5ft 9in tall and bowls in the low-to-mid 80mph range, but his accuracy and subtle changes of pace have been key.
His efforts saw him named as one of four England players – alongside Jos Buttler, Alex Hales and Mark Wood – in the International Cricket Council’s team of the tournament.
Sidebottom said: “When Reece Topley got injured, he was bowling so well and I thought he would be a big miss for England – opening the innings, swing bowler, bounce, bowling good pace, confident.
“Sam’s just done his typical thing of taking to everything like a duck to water. He’s done so, so well.
“There’s always talk about him not being quick enough or he’s too small – it’s nonsense, you’re either a good player or you’re not.
“He’s a fantastic cricketer, he obviously deserves his place and I’m really pleased for him. He’s been one of the players of the tournament, he’s been unbelievable.”
Curran is one of several left-arm quicks to have caught the eye in Australia, alongside Pakistan’s Shaheen Shah Afridi, India’s Arshdeep Singh, New Zealand’s Trent Boult and Ireland’s Josh Little.
Sidebottom feels batters do not often face that type of bowling during practice sessions so can struggle to adjust when out in the middle.
He added: “You see it regularly in nets, batsmen facing the dog stick, it’s all right-arm wangers. The left-arm variation and change of line and angle is so important.
“With a left-armer you can defend one side, and although players hit 360 degrees now, there’s not many players in world cricket who can hit over extra cover so you can bowl to your field as a left-armer.
“It’s an art batsmen don’t always face and they probably find it a bit more difficult to attack.”