Sam Curran smashed his third Test half-century to lift England out of trouble against Sri Lanka and strengthen his all-round credentials.
The 20-year-old left-hander made 64 as England reached a respectable 285 in Kandy. He put on 45 with Adil Rashid (31) and 60 for the last wicket with James Anderson, who finished seven not out.
It followed scores of 63 and 78 against India this summer and lifted Curran’s average for his fledgling Test career above 40.
It is a remarkable record for a man brought into the team for his left-arm pace bowling, who made his debut at number nine against Pakistan in June, scoring 20, and has batted at number eight in every innings since.
He followed that up against India with 24 and 63, off 65 balls, in his second Test at Edgbaston, 40 at Lord’s and 78 and 46 at the Ageas Bowl before a first failure, a duck at his home ground of The Oval. He rounded off the series with 21 in the second innings.
His Sri Lanka series began with 48 in Galle – and a curious nought not out without facing before the second-innings declaration – before his second-Test heroics.
He brought up his half-century in Kandy with a six, as he has done on all three occasions he has reached the milestone.
Indeed, the innings contains six maximums and only a solitary four. That matches the most sixes Ian Botham ever hit in a Test innings and has been bettered for England by only four batsmen.
Ben Stokes hit 11 in his 258 against South Africa in 2016 and Wally Hammond 10 in his 336 not out against New Zealand in 1933, the second-highest score by an England batsman. Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff each hit seven sixes in a Test innings.
Curran’s batting has outstripped his primary suit as a bowler so far but he has been no slouch with ball in hand – he has only 14 wickets in 12 Test innings but averages 23.78 with a best of four for 74 in that memorable Edgbaston breakout.