Sam Curran bowled his way into becoming England’s key player


That nobody really came close means they fly home, having defeated Pakistan in the final, the undisputed white-ball champions of world cricket, the first team to hold both 50-over and 20-over world titles concurrently.

If it has seemed fairly straightforward, after their shock defeat by Ireland a fortnight ago, the solution lay with them tightening their plans for Australia’s bigger grounds and their (surprisingly) bowler-friendly pitches.

On most surfaces prepared for white-ball cricket, the only variable is sideways movement through swing, seam or spin, and then not much.

In rain-hit Australia, there was all that plus vertical variation through extra bounce, which meant ball did not hit the middle of the bat with the same regularity that many players expected.

For England a pragmatism took hold, one that prized substance over style and machismo, especially among the batsmen who realised that, for once, the bowlers would likely boss it and not be the whipping boys.

Happily, Jos Buttler’s side had an attack of all the talents (unlike a Liz Truss cabinet) and it paid off handsomely especially in the final, where it limited Pakistan to an under-par total of 137.

There is often talk of bowling attacks having leaders but England’s seemed egalitarian in the way that an ants’ nest does, with everyone knowing their role but also that they might be called upon to fulfil another at a moment’s notice.

It isn’t often that a bowler picks up both the man-of-the-final and player-of-the-tournament awards but Sam Curran did just that.

The second was certainly deserved though even he suggested the first should have gone to Ben Stokes, whose unbeaten 52 against Pakistan, on an MCG pitch helpful to all bowlers, was central to England’s victory.

Curran, 24, is a curiosity, as was his miserly three for 12 in the final. Being under 6ft tall he doesn’t look especially imposing and he doesn’t do anything that other bowlers can’t do in terms of swing or cut.

He rarely exceeds 83mph, which is not terrifying, so there is nothing to instill apprehension. But then maybe that is part of the deception, which in T20 is what effective bowling is all about.

He does bowl left-arm, which data analysts tell us is an advantage in modern cricket (though not why), while his lowish trajectory and fast arm means he can skid the ball through, which can sometimes be an advantage.

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