Sam Curran wants to shed his “vulnerable” tag if he is given the nod ahead of Chris Woakes for England’s first Test against New Zealand in Mount Maunganui this week.
The seam bowling all-rounder was England’s man of the series against India in a breakout summer last year but just two wickets in four Tests over the winter contributed to him being left out of the side when the Ashes started.
Curran was restored for the series finale at The Oval and his left-arm angle saw him preferred to Woakes in the final warm-up against New Zealand A in Whangarei, in what was thought to be instructive in how England will line-up against the Black Caps.
A draw in our final tour match before the first Test.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) November 17, 2019
He was wicketless in the first innings and looked worryingly ineffective on an unresponsive surface but took three for 42 second time around to improve his hopes of being named in England’s XI on Thursday morning.
He said: “I think if I do get the chance, it is about nailing down my spot in the side and stop being the one that is vulnerable.
“That is my responsibility and whoever gets the spot, if it is me, has to take the opportunity by getting runs and taking wickets and contributing to the team.
“If I do get the nod hopefully I can go well and contribute with both bat and ball. That is my aim and as long as I’m helping to win games for the team then I’m happy.”
Curran’s efforts were not enough for a win at the Cobham Oval as the flat pitch and an ageing Kookaburra ball had the final say, with the ninth-wicket pairing of William Somerville and Ajaz Patel holding firm to secure a draw.
As England head south to Mount Maunganui on Monday, Curran and his bowling colleagues know they must find a way to make headway with the Kookaburra, traditionally less likely to dart around than the Dukes ball.
The 21-year-old said: “I think any bowler who bowls with a Kookaburra is going to say they prefer the Dukes but you’ve got to learn somehow.
“(Stuart Broad) has been saying he’s played abroad for 10 years now and you’ve got to learn to do this because every time you go on tour, this is what you’ve got.
“It is a great learning curve for me, but I’ve made some strides in this game and come up with a few different options so I’m pretty confident.”
Despite admirable averages in his fledgling 11-Test career – his batting (30.05) is slightly above his bowling (29), the true gauge for any all-rounder – Curran is striving to improve.
And in fellow all-rounder Ben Stokes, Curran admits he has the perfect role model.
He added: “As an all-rounder I look up to someone like Stokesy and the way he contributes with the bat up the order and he takes wickets when he bowls. That is what I aspire to do.
“Batting at number eight, you’re playing more for the bowling role but I still want to contribute with the bat. I don’t pick one, I train them both as hard as each other so when it comes to it I can contribute with bat and ball.”
If selected later this week, Curran is likely to be alongside Dom Sibley and Ollie Pope, players he has known since his schooldays.
Curran added: “It is great to be involved with my good schoolmates so it will be fun if we all take the park and hopefully we take that responsibility of nailing down our places and being the future.”