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Graveney backs Curran brothers to shine

David Graveney admits that even as a member of Gloucestershire’s executive board, he will have mixed feelings when Surrey’s Curran brothers are bowling in what promises to be an emotional Royal London One-Day Cup final at Lord’s tomorrow.

Graveney was a Gloucestershire team-mate of Tom and Sam’s dad Kevin Curran in the 1980s, and has remained a close family friend.

He was rocked, with so many in cricket, when Kevin died three years ago at the age of 53, and has been thrilled, if not surprised, by the rapid progress Tom and Sam have made since – even selecting Sam, in his role as the National Performance Manager of the England Development Programme, to join the Under-17s in the United Arab Emirates last winter.

Now Sam, who only turned 17 in June, and Tom, who will be 21 in March, will lead Surrey’s attack in the traditional September showpiece of the county season.

“I still speak to Sam a lot, and I’ve jokingly said to him that if he gets Michael Klinger out, I’m not going to speak to him again,” said the former chairman of England selectors, who spent 19 seasons bowling his left-arm spin for Gloucestershire – following in the footsteps of his father Ken and uncle Tom – before ending his career with Durham.

"The perfect result would be for them to do well, but for Gloucestershire to win,” according to David Graveney

“He said ‘Grav’ – he calls me that – ‘I’m going to have to be quick, because I only bowl three or four overs at the start’. That was quite an impressive answer for a 17-year-old I thought, and typical of him. Credit to Surrey actually, to put in a guy of 17 to open the attack in all forms of the game, as they have done this year, was a brave decision.

“Tom is very like Kevin, a highly talented bowler, and he has also had an excellent season. I’m not sure if he’s got something against Gloucestershire but his record against us has been remarkable. [Tom took 7-20 in the LV= County Championship game at the Kia Oval, and 6-61 in the return fixture in Bristol, plus four more wickets in a RLODC group match, while Sam has also chipped in with scores of 42 and 49].

“The boys won’t like it but I hope their mother doesn’t mind me saying that the perfect result would be for them to do well, but for Gloucestershire to win,” Graveney continued. “I think Richard Dawson and the players have done a remarkable job to get the club to where they have. It’s a fascinating final, a club that has everything against a club that doesn’t have a lot.”

Graveney played a significant and unusual part in the Curran story.

“I was walking through the corridor in the Bristol pavilion and happened to answer the pay-phone there when it was ringing,” he recalled. “It was a guy with a southern African accent which I recognised, who said he was a personal friend of Mike Procter, and asking if he could speak to the appropriate medical adviser.

The Currans have shared 30 wickets in Surrey's run to the Royal London One-Day Cup final

“That was Kevin, a good mate of Proccy’s who was over here playing league cricket. We found out that he had an Irish passport and managed to acquire his services. He was a fine player – he’d already played for Zimbabwe, in the same team as Duncan Fletcher.”

Curran settled quickly into a Gloucestershire team who went agonisingly close to the County Championship title in 1986, fired by the new-ball pairing of David Lawrence and Courtney Walsh. The hard-hitting all-rounder scored almost 7,000 first-class runs in five seasons in Bristol before joining Northamptonshire for another nine seasons from 1991.

“Gloucestershire really shouldn’t have allowed that team to break up as it did,” added Graveney.

But Curran prospered in Northampton, taking three wickets to set up a victory over Leicestershire in the 1992 NatWest Trophy final – and forming a firm friendship with Allan Lamb. Tom was born in Cape Town in March 1995 but Sam and Ben, the middle brother who has played second-team cricket for Surrey this season, were both born in England.

“I always stayed in touch with Kevin because our respective wives were really close,” said Graveney. “He was a good coach for Zimbabwe as well. Everybody faces tragedy of some form but the two deaths that have affected me more than any others are those of Ben Hollioake, because he was so young, and of Kevin, because he was such a fit bloke.

“For him to die as suddenly as he did was such a shock. For the lads, the pressure they were under as a family – it’s going to be an emotional occasion on Saturday, and Sarah is going to be very proud.” 

Royal London One-Day Cup final facts

Gloucestershire v Surrey

Gloucestershire are taking part in their 10th List A final; winning all but one of their previous appearances, losing to Surrey in their only previous meeting at this stage of the competition.

This will be Surrey’s 11th List A final; they claimed victory in their last three appearances (W5 L5).

Six of the last seven finals have been won by the side chasing.

Of the last four meetings between these two teams, Surrey have won three of them.

Tom Curran took a four-wicket haul (4/65) in the last match played between these sides back in August 2015; his best figures this season and only one of three instances of a Surrey bowler taking 4+ List A scalps this campaign (James Burke and Sam Curran).

Rory Burns recorded his highest-ever List A score in that match (95); helping to seal a 12-run win for the Surrey side.

Surrey batsmen have registered six centuries between them this season; more than any other county.

However, on average one in every 41 balls bowled by Surrey this season has been wide; only Sussex (37) have managed a more wayward record.

Gloucestershire’s Jack Taylor has the highest strike-rate of any batsman to record at least 100 runs this season (159.8).

Michael Klinger has strung together a run of five successive List A scores of at least 50 heading into this match; the first time he has ever done so in his career.

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