Ben Curran is back at the County Ground and raring to go for a positive 2019 season with Northamptonshire.
The 22-year-old, who signed a first team contract at Wantage Road midway through 2018, has returned to the Midlands after spending the bulk of the winter playing and training in Cape Town.
Curran combined his time in South Africa between playing for Cape Town CC – top-scoring 61 – and working with Gary Kirsten and Ryan Cook, who had coached the left-hander a year ago, and says that he is feeling refreshed ahead of the Specsavers County Championship opener on April 5.
“My game had gone from strength-to-strength with Gary and Ryan and we picked up where I left off last year,” Curran commented.
“It’s always nice to be busy over the winter with game time, keeping in nick while also having down time to be fresh for the season. It’s important to get that balance right, and you can get that when you’re there.
“There were a couple of guys there that I knew, so it was good to be with a few familiar faces.”
Curran’s debuts in white ball and red ball cricket were both positive days for Northamptonshire, the former in the Vitality Blast victory away to Derbyshire and the latter at Chester-le-Street in a comprehensive Specsavers County Championship win over Durham.
He ended the season with 251 First Class runs and a high score of 83 not out and believes that having seen action already will stand him in good stead in 2019.
“I’m learning as I’m going along,” he adds. “This comes with experience as you learn what you need to do for your game.
“I’d done reasonably well in the second team so felt that I was ready and carry on doing what I was doing in the first team. There was a big step up with regards to the bowlers; there’s more pressure on you, less chance for a release and it’s harder to build your runs. It was a challenge I looked forward to and hopefully I can build on that this year.
“It was good for me personally to get a few games last year so I’m not coming in cold to first team cricket. I’m confident that I can perform and hopefully all of us young guys can put in consistent performances with red ball and white ball this year.
“The big thing for me is to make sure that I keep it simple, stick to my game plan, staying at the crease and giving myself the best chance of scoring runs.”
Curran joined the rest of the squad in a pre-season camp in La Manga, Spain, last week which included a pair of one-day friendlies against Hampshire, and he says that getting into the middle was good for the team as a whole.
“It was nice to be back with the lads who I’ll be playing the whole season with and getting back used to the characters in the team,” he says. “The lads have been indoors during the winter, so it was good for all of us to get some time in the middle.
“It’s exciting times for us. We’ve got a couple of players joining the squad and hopefully it will be a year when we can challenge for silverware.”
Season Tickets remain available for 2019, with supporters able to watch all 41 scheduled days of Northamptonshire cricket from just £6.50 per day. For more information head to www.northantscricket.com/season-tickets