Kevin Curran: 10 interesting things to know about the late Zimbabwean all-rounder

Kevin Curran, born September 7, 1959, was one of Zimbabwe’s finest all-rounders. A hard-hitting batsman and bowler capable of hitting high speeds, Curran was an integral part of Zimbabwe’s ODI side despite playing only a handful of games. Shiamak Unwalla lists 10 interesting things to know about the man who passed away at a tragically young age.

1.  Kevin Curran, the second: Kevin Malcolm Curran’s father was named Kevin Patrick Curran, which technically makes our man Kevin Curran Jr.

2.  Cricketing family: Apart from sharing his first name with his father, Curran Jr shared his passion for cricket as well. Curran Sr played First-Class cricket for Rhodesia. The cricketing connection does not end there. Kevin Jr’s cousin Patrick James Curran (presumably named after Kevin Sr’s middle name!) played one First-Class match. Curran Jr’s sons Tom, Sam, and Ben have also played domestic cricket, with Tom being the best known of the lot.

3.  A famous name: The name ‘Kevin Curran’ seems to be rather famous. Apart from our father-son duo, there are two more famous Kevin Currans; an Australian rules footballer who was an active player in the 1940s, and an American comedy writer who has worked on such shows as Late Night with David Letterman and The Simpsons.

4.  True all-rounder: Curran was an all-rounder in every sense. Apart from being a hard-hitting batsman and a fast bowler, he was also capable of tremendous feats while fielding. His former captain Duncan Fletcher said of his fielding, “As a youngster, his returns to the keeper would be scrappy — until it was run-out time. Then the ball would be right above the stumps from the outfield, or a direct hit when closer in.”

5.  Slaying the giants: Though Fletcher was at the helm of Zimbabwe’s first great victory — over Australia during the 1983 World Cup — Curran played a huge role as well. Fletcher is remembered as the mastermind of the victory with an unbeaten 69 and 4 for 42, but had it not been for his partnership with Curran Zimbabwe might not have got to their score of 239 for 6. Coming in at 94 for 5, Curran added 70 with Fletcher, the former making 27. With the ball, Curran took the all-important wicket of Allan Border for 17, effectively ending Australia’s hopes after Fletcher had ripped out the top order.

6.  Overhauled by a genius: Curran’s finest ODI performance sadly came in a heartbreaking loss. In the now-famous match at Tunbridge Wells between India and Zimbabwe, Curran and Peter Rawson reduced India to 9 for 4 and later 17 for 5. Thoughts of an early finish soon evaporated though, with Kapil Dev playing what is even now rated among the greatest ever World Cup knocks. Kapil’s unbeaten 175 took India to 266 for 8. Curran had finished with 3 for 65, but his work was far from done. Coming n at 113 for 6, Curran hit a frenetic 93-ball 73 and was ninth out with the score on 230. India eventually won by 31 runs after Zimbabwe were bowled out with three overs to spare. Curran had done all he could, but Kapil’s genius helped India over the line.

7.  Prolific in county cricket: Curran played exactly 139 matches each for Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire, with similar results. He scored 6,765 runs for Gloucestershire at 38.43 with 16 tons and 27 half-centuries, and 6,990 for the Northants at 38.19 with six centuries and 48 fifties. With the ball, he captured 239 wickets for Gloucestershire at 26.39 with nine fifers and three ten-fors, and for Northants he took 271 wickets at 30.18 with five five-fors. Sadly, he ended his stint at Gloucestershire on a bitter note, with coach Eddie Barlow later saying that his split was in the best interest of the team.

8.  Coaching career: After retiring from First-Class cricket, Curran coached Namibia for a while before coaching his native Zimbabwe from 2005-2007. He also coached the Zimbabwean Under-19 team during the 2010 World Cup. At the time of his demise he was head coach of Zimbabwean domestic side Mashonaland Eagles.

9.  Sudden death: For someone as physically fit as Curran — even after turning 50 he was reportedly fitter than most of his wards — it came as a shock that he collapsed while jogging in 2010, aged 53. The cause of his death remained a mystery for a long time. As mentioned above, he was head coach of Mashonaland Eagles at the time, and his side was even supposed to play a few matches in the next couple of weeks.

10.  Glowing tributes: A number of tributes flowed in after Curran’s passing. Heath Streak said of him, “He was always such a positive guy and he always found the best in everything. Nothing was too much for him to try and conquer. He lived cricket and he was very passionate about Zimbabwe and helping cricket in the country.”

Former teammate John Traicos said, “I had great admiration for Kevin. He was a self-made cricketer. We had quite a high work ethic in those days and I remember Kevin being a really dedicated guy, who would bowl for hours on the concrete pitches on his own.”

Andy Waller, father of current cricketer Malcolm Waller, said, “You often heard the words desire, determination, dedication and discipline being used by coaches if sports person want to be the best in their fields. Well, KC applied all four throughout his career. To top it off he had more self-belief than any person I know and my goodness was he competitive. It was, therefore, no coincidence that Kev was so successful at everything he did.”

(Shiamak Unwalla is a proud Whovian and all-round geek who also dabbles in cricket writing as a reporter with CricketCountry. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)