England’s Sam and Tom Curran have said they would be happy to resume their international careers behind closed doors if necessary. “Every sportsman would love to be playing now, whether it is with fans or not,” said Sam in a joint video interview with his brother. “I definitely wouldn’t mind playing behind closed doors.”
With the Covid-19 outbreak wiping out huge swathes of the international calendar, and large gatherings of people not a realistic prospect for at least several months, the Curran brothers have added their voices to the growing chorus of players and coaches endorsing the resumption of professional cricket without crowds as soon as it is safe to do so.
“Playing internationals behind closed doors will be a strange thing, but I guess at least there would be some sport on TV for people,” said Tom. “Once it’s all safe and we’re abiding with government guidelines, whatever decisions are made for us, I’m sure everyone will be getting amongst it. I’m very excited to get back out there, whenever that might be.”
During the national lockdown Sam is staying with his girlfriend in Somerset and Tom is in his London apartment, which has slightly restricted his bowling opportunities. “I can’t quite come off the long run on the balcony,” he said, joking. “We are just making do. It’s not the same as bowling, but we’ve got medicine balls and when I go for a run on the road, I slow it down and go through my action a couple of times, just to keep the movements going. Pretty village stuff.”
Had it not been for the coronavirus pandemic, both Currans would have been at the Indian Premier League: Tom for Rajasthan Royals and Sam for Chennai Super Kings. For Sam, who was signed for around £590,000 in the December auction, the potential cancellation of this year’s tournament would have severe financial ramifications. “The way it stands, I won’t be getting any of that. I was actually looking at [buying] a flat, but luckily I haven’t gone through with any of it yet. Everyone is in the exact same situation. We don’t know what the future’s going to hold.”
Instead, Sam has been busy raising funds in other ways. This month he launched a fundraising campaign for the NHS charity Help Them Help Us, with donations nearing £10,000. Simon Harmer, Dom Sibley and Dan Lawrence are among the prominent cricketers to have contributed.
“We’ve just got to appreciate what they’re doing,” Sam said. “We’re all sat at home having a nice coffee when there’s people working long shifts and that’s when we realise how lucky we are in what we do. We’ve had so much time to think about what we can do to give back. The smallest thing we can do is raise some money for the NHS.”
On the field, there are complementary ambitions at play. For Sam, securing his place in the England Test side will sit alongside seeking to establish himself in the white-ball setup. For Tom, a mainstay of the white-ball side whose two Tests came on the last Ashes tour of Australia in 2017-18, the focus is on working his way back into red-ball contention, a tough ask given he has played one first-class game since September 2018.
“I’ve definitely got huge Test ambitions still,” he said. “It’s a tough one, because over the last couple of years there was a focus on white-ball cricket with the World Cup, and rightly so. Now it’s about trying to get that balance.”
Sam agreed: “The dream is to be playing all three formats together. Any game you play for England is obviously a great privilege, but playing with your brother gives it that extra special feeling.”
As centrally contracted England players, Tom and Sam have been receiving regular communications from the England and Wales Cricket Board’s strength and conditioning coaches, as well as from their club, Surrey. Group yoga sessions organised over FaceTime have helped to maintain team spirit. “I’m just trying to keep as busy as possible,” said Sam. “Hopefully I’m not one of the players who has let themselves go, and comes back 10kg too big.”