Sam Curran credited the Indian Premier League with helping him acclimate to high-pressure scenarios such as the one he expects to face in England’s “quarter-final” at the T20 World Cup.
England’s bid to become the first side to hold both limited-overs World Cups simultaneously was revived after a 20-run win over New Zealand in Brisbane on Tuesday as Curran continues to excel in Australia.
The left-arm seamer took two for 26, particularly impressive given he was entrusted with bowling the 18th and 20th overs, having become an increasingly reliable performer at the back end of an innings.
While he enjoyed the flexibility he had at Surrey in the T20 Blast last summer, he feels his time with Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings in recent years at the IPL has fast-tracked his development.
“Just playing against the best players in the world and constantly being under pressure, those moments are great,” the 24-year-old said.
“It is just a great tournament and a great standard of cricket. It really tests you.
“I also really enjoyed my T20 Blast with Surrey as well this summer. I did different roles and felt in a really good place.
“All the experiences I’m having, I’m really enjoying. Any T20 cricket against the best players in the world will only make you stronger, you learn from your bad days and get confidence from the good days.”
England headed to Sydney on Wednesday ahead of a reunion with ex-coach Chris Silverwood, now in charge of Sri Lanka, still needing a victory on Saturday which would likely send them into the semi-finals.
England are level on points with New Zealand and Australia with two teams progressing to the last four, but the hosts and defending champions have a significantly inferior net run-rate to their rivals.
England also have the added benefit of playing last in their Super 12s group, a day after Australia and New Zealand, so will know exactly what is required to progress to the knockout stages.
For Curran, in his first taste of global tournament cricket, the match against Sri Lanka is an enticing prospect.
“Going to Sydney, it’s real game time, I think,” Curran said. “It’s almost like that quarter-final feeling which I’ve never really been involved in.
“With the position we’re in, we’re hoping Australia lose (against Afghanistan). Going into our game, we’ll know what equation we’ll need to do but, most importantly, I’m sure it will just be winning.”
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 he has been particularly accurate with his yorkers here.
Subtle changes of pace and well-directed bouncers have also been on show from Curran, who has taken 14 wickets since arriving in the country, nine of them in the tournament from only three matches.
While he has been deployed in the powerplay and middle overs, it is at the death where Curran, who had not played in Australia until recently, has had a major impact.
He bowled two of the last three overs against Afghanistan in Perth and took four wickets in six balls to collect the first five-for by an England male in T20s in their tournament-opening victory.
“I think you’ve got to just back yourself in those moments,” he said. “I know it’s a very tough thing to do. It is just about making sure you are confident in what you are going to deliver.
“At the end of the day it is coming out of your hand so you are the one who has got to execute. (Captain Jos Buttler and all-rounder Moeen Ali) give me great confidence and it is on me to deliver.”