Those who played with and against Zimbabwe all-rounder Kevin Curran struggled to come to terms with his sudden death yesterday.
According to Zimbabwe Cricket, Curran (53) collapsed while jogging in Mutare, a place in Zimbabwe that Indian cricket followers will associate with the infamous Greg Chappell vs Sourav Ganguly clash in 2005.
Zimbabwe’s Kevin Curran during the 1987 World Cup. Pic/Getty Images
Curran will probably never be forgotten by India’s 1983 World Cup-winning team.
Kapil Dev scored an unbeaten 175 in one of the most unbelievable innings of all time, but 50-odd overs before that, Curran had India reeling at six runs for three wickets in a 60 overs-a-side game.
After Peter Rawson trapped Sunil Gavaskar leg before wicket for a duck, Curran sent back Krishnamachari Srikkanth (0) and Sandeep Patil (5). He claimed the wicket of Madan Lal too – Zimbabwe’s last wicket for the day — before Kapil Dev and Syed Kirmani ensured India reached 266.
Balvinder Singh Sandhu, who watched his teammates cope in swinging conditions, remembered being “scared” watching Curran bowl his first spell. “He bowled brilliantly on a seaming wicket and exploited the conditions very well, but Kapil got us back in the game. Curran looked a good all-rounder,” said Sandhu, who later in the day opened the bowling with his captain.
“Kapil was brilliant and we knew if we get 250, we would win the game. Curran tried his best to get Zimbabwe back in the game with his batting (top-scored with 73 off 93 balls). I remember him as a nice guy and a very health conscious person,” Sandhu added.
A report of that Tunbridge Wells game in the 1984 edition of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack said: “The match was still not firmly in India’s hands, for Curran, who with Rawson had been responsible for India’s early disasters, played a dashing innings of 73, and it was not until he was ninth out at 230 in the 56th over that India were safe.” India went on to win by 31 runs.
25 years ago... in India
Twenty-five Octobers ago, Curran was in India as part of Zimbabwe’s 1987 World Cup squad and in the game against India at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, man of the match Manoj Prabhakar had him snicking one to wicketkeeper Kiran More for a duck in a match which India sailed through by eight wickets.
More called Curran an “outstanding, classy all-rounder — the best from Zimbabwe.”
Former South Africa spinner Omar Henry, who played first-class cricket with Curran on the domestic scene in the Rainbow Nation, said: “Kevin was a tough competitor and his all-round skills were an asset to any side he played for. He was a very crafty bowler. Apart from that, he was a fine bloke. He had a good sense of humour and was lovely to chat with after a game. His death is a great shock and loss.”