Northamptonshire have announced the signing of Ben Curran, brother of England internationals Sam and Tom, on a two-year contract.
Batsman Curran, 22, has been playing for the club’s second XI but made his first-team debut in the Steelbacks’ Vitality Blast match against Derbyshire last week.
His late father was former Northants captain Kevin Curran and Ben is the middle brother to Tom and Sam, who have represented England in both red and white-ball cricket.
Curran’s performances have prompted the club to offer him a two-year deal, starting next season, though he will continue playing for Northants for the remainder of this campaign.
The left-hander said: “I’m delighted to have signed for Northants. The fact that my Dad played here too it makes it even more special to be able to represent this county.
“I hope that I can contribute in all three formats over the next few years and fingers crossed we can have a strong end to the season in both the Blast and the County Championship.”
Curran has been playing for the MCC Young Cricketers since 2015, experience that Northants head coach David Ripley says will prove invaluable.
He is convinced Curran has what it takes to thrive at the club, and said: “Ben has scored heavily in all formats for us in the 2’s as well as continuing to churn out runs for the MCCYC’s.
“He deserves an opportunity and we look forward to working with him over the next two seasons. He has a lot of competitive spirit and I know he will make the most of his chance.”
England didn’t add Ben Stokes to the third Test squad to carry the drinks, the all-rounder is a certainty to play at Trent Bridge this coming Saturday.
The 27-year-old was cleared of affray on Tuesday after a week-long case at Bristol Crown Court, freeing him up to star for Joe Root’s men against India having missed the second match at Lord’s.
And there is no doubt he should and will come straight back into the fold with England leading 2-0 and on the brink of securing the five-match series. Stokes, like he showed at Edgbaston in the opener, is capable of match-defining brilliance.
A fired-up Stokes is a frightening prospect for India’s batsmen given their tour is quickly falling off the rails. There is no point in the Durham cricketer sitting on the sidelines until the England and Wales Cricket Board conclude their disciplinary investigation into his behaviour.
The ECB are reviewing the wider issues surrounding Stokes’ conduct and looking at the extent of which he has brought the game into disrepute, given his privileged and role model position in society.
However, until those summations are founded, he is a free man and has served plenty of cricket punishment already, by virtue of having lost the vice-captaincy following the late-night incident in Bristol last year, which led to a subsequent suspension from the Ashes tour Down Under.
The old adage is you don’t change a winning team and that is a strong argument in this case, given the player who replaced Stokes – Chris Woakes – delivered a man of the match worthy performance at the Home of Cricket.
Woakes will of course retain his key all-rounder berth within the side but Stokes is in line to come in for Ollie Pope – the 20-year-old Surrey batsman who impressed on his Test debut at Lord’s.
On paper, it would appear to be a harsh decision to omit the youngster after just one match but his time will come again in the future and he was just a replacement in the first instance. Stokes is more than capable of slotting in at No5, with Jonny Bairstow moving up a slot to four.
That said, the form the wicket-keeper batsman is in, he can bat anywhere in this line-up – and deservedly so – while Jos Buttler could also be moved around.
The other option would be to leave out Adil Rashid, who was a virtual bystander in the second match, where he did not bat, bowl or take a catch in the field. His highly-publicised return to red-ball cricket has been low key but England need a spin selection and he is still the best available.
Either way, the presence of Stokes is a must and his comeback is not the news the Men in Blue would have wanted.
The tourists have been lacking confidence and fight which England will hope to further exploit with the all-rounder ammunition of Stokes, Woakes and emerging force Sam Curran.
Stokes can also help England chase a first Test series whitewash since the 2-0, two-match home series victory over New Zealand in 2013, while in recent years, their best clean sweep of a long-haul series came against India, on home soil, way back in 2011.
Given all what has happened, Stokes should now have a renewed sense of perspective about how special it is to be playing for England – and how perilously close he came to throwing the only thing he knows in life away.
Being back on the cricket field for the third Test will feel like the best thing ever and my England are glad to have him back for the remainder of this series.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan claims Ben Stokes has brought cricket into disrepute but said the all-rounder has “suffered enough punishment” as he prepares for a return to Test cricket.
Shortly after being cleared of affray at Bristol Crown Court on Tuesday lunchtime, Stokes was added to a squad of 13 for the third Test against India at Trent Bridge.
However, the England and Wales Cricket Board also confirmed a disciplinary investigation is set to reconvene into the behaviour of Stokes and his team-mate Alex Hales on a night out in Bristol last September.
The Cricket Discipline Commission process – which has the remit to impose penalties including an unlimited fine or suspension and termination of registration – was halted 11 months ago while criminal proceedings took precedence, and will not resume imminently.
While the outcome remains to be seen, Vaughan hopes Stokes, who was not able to play in the winter’s Ashes series, will be allowed to return his full focus to on-field matters once again.
“I believe he has suffered enough punishment already and the cricket disciplinary case against him should take into account the time he has already served after missing the five Tests and one-day series in Australia,” Vaughan wrote in his column for the Daily Telegraph.
“There is no question he brought the game into disrepute but cricketers have few opportunities in their lives to play an Ashes series in Australia and missing that tour was a massive blow for Ben. There is no need to keep clobbering him with suspensions.
“I totally agree with Ben being added to the squad for the third Test on Saturday as long as he feels ready to, which no doubt he does.”