Little bit of relief – Sam Curran and England bounce back in Antigua

By Sports Desk December 06, 2023

Sam Curran refused to dwell too much on his weekend drubbing and believes he demonstrated his strength of character by helping England level their ODI series against the West Indies.

Curran recorded the most expensive figures by an England bowler in ODIs on Sunday as the Windies drew first blood in the three-match series, finishing with nought for 98 after 9.5 bruising overs.

He returned to the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Wednesday and laid the groundwork for England’s six-wicket win, snaring top-order trio Keacy Carty, Brandon King and Shimron Hetmyer.

After a redemptive display as he regained his moniker of “making things happen”, Curran felt there was nothing to be gained from focusing on the negatives as he drew an emphatic line under the experience.

“Any time you bowl in certain scenarios, you know you’re going to have a tough day but I think if you dwell on those things too much, I feel like it would have probably affected me here,” he said.

“The big, big messaging from this group was ‘you’ve got to learn from those situations’ and I feel like I’m a very strong character in that regard. I don’t feel like that’s going to affect me at all.

“Hopefully I just bounce back stronger and learn from those days that are tough. There’s a little bit of relief, I guess, it was a tough day the other day but it was fantastic to get the win here.

“I feel like I haven’t played a huge amount over the last couple of months, like any player it’s a bit of rhythm and confidence and fingers crossed we can keep looking forwards.”

Curran was axed from the side after three anonymous displays at the World Cup, where he averaged 11.66 with the bat and took two wickets and leaked 140 runs in 17.2 overs.

Scrutiny increased on his long-term role in a new-look ODI set-up after being taken down by the Windies but Curran was named Jos Buttler’s vice-captain ahead of this series, emphasising the premium England place on the 25-year-old.

“Jos mentioned before the series if he’d like me to do it, that’s a great honour,” he said. “I do feel like more of a senior player in the side so that was a nice, proud moment.

“I definitely feel like I can play all three formats. People can have their opinions that I might not be able to but I feel like I’m a player who likes to back myself in all those tough moments.

“The message is that it’s a new side at the moment and it’s looking forward for the next couple of years.

“I think the energy around the group has been fantastic as well. It feels like a lot of energy and buzz around the group right now and I feel quite a big part of that, so I feel that’s a good thing.”

Curran’s three for 33 saw the Windies slip to 23 for four and while there were knocks of 68 from Shai Hope and 63 by Sherfane Rutherford, Liam Livingstone snuffed out any chance of a substantial total.

He dismissed Rutherford then Hope en route to figures of three for 39, with Gus Atkinson and Rehan Ahmed chipping in with a couple of wickets apiece as the Windies stumbled to 202 all out in 39.4 overs.

Will Jacks thumped four sixes in his sparkling 73 off 72 deliveries but his dismissal left England on 116 for four and the game on a knife-edge as the out-of-form Jos Buttler strode to the crease.

Without a fifty in his previous 13 ODIs and out for single figures in five of his last eight innings, the batter often touted as England’s greatest in the white-ball formats rediscovered his Midas touch.

He was twice beaten on the outside edge early on by leg-spinner Yannic Cariah but gradually found some fluency, thumping three sixes in his unbeaten 58 from 45 balls, sharing an unbroken 90 with Harry Brook.

It was left to Brook to hit the winning runs, finishing on 43 not out, as England won with 103 balls to spare to set up a series decider in Barbados on Saturday.

“We take a lot of happiness from our team-mates doing well, especially our captain, it’s really exciting,” Curran added. “Jos did what we know Jos can do.”

The Windies are now the side on the ropes ahead of this weekend but captain Hope said: “This is gone, we can’t control a thing that happened in this game or even the first game. We have to look ahead.”

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