Sam Curran & Mason Crane head teenagers making an impact

By Gary SmeeBBC Sport
Sam Curran
Sam Curran is one of several teenagers making big strides in the county game this summer

When Sam Curran was born on 3 June 1998, his current skipper Gareth Batty had just moved south from Yorkshire for his first spell at Surrey.

Now, 17 years later, the pair are starring in the same attack.

Given his opportunity after a string of impressive performances in Surrey's development sides, Curran took it with flying colours - picking up eight wickets on his first-class debut against Kent.

In the few weeks that have passed since, the left-arm paceman has become a key part of Surrey's bowling line-up, alongside 20-year-old brother Tom, and there have been whispers that international prospects beckon.

However, Curran is not the only teenager to have made strides in the domestic game this summer with a number of youngsters given their chance by counties and proving they have the skill and temperament to make an impact.

Surrey head coach Graham Ford has witnessed Curran's speedy rise through the ranks and is excited by what he has seen so far.

Sam Curran
Sam Curran is playing alongside plenty of experience at Surrey

"I felt Sam had a tremendous amount of talent. From what we have seen of him, he is a mature lad," he told BBC Sport.

"He has a few wise heads around him on the field, with Azhar Mahmood in the Twenty20s while Kumar Sangakkara and Gareth Batty are brilliant with the young guys.

"I knew he had the talent and with the support of those wise heads, I thought he'd be capable of something good."

The former South Africa coach added: "We felt it was time to try and get youngsters to improve and become the core of the side.

"That has to be done in conjunction with having a couple of experienced men around to help them. You can't just throw a group of young guys into the firing line.

"It has worked fairly well with the blend of experience and some exciting youth coming through."

Mason Crane
Mason Crane has impressed with his leg-spin for Hampshire this season

Another county unafraid to give youngsters a chance is Hampshire, with the emergence of leg-spinner Mason Crane generating a buzz at the Ageas Bowl.

Crane adds an "x-factor" to the team, according to first-team coach Dale Benkenstein, while former England paceman Steve Harmison has urged England's selectors to consider him for the upcoming tour to the United Arab Emirates, where they will play Pakistan.

"He's very confident, he hardly bowls a bad ball, he's really enthusiastic and he's mature," he said.

"I saw him last year and he was really a little boy, and just in one year he's grown, he looks like a man now and we felt he would be able to handle it."

Benkenstein believes it is vital for all counties to produce home-grown players, but must ensure they have the right guidance to avoid some of the pitfalls that can hamper the progress of young sportsmen.

"Some people start really well but it's how they handle that. They start worrying about the cars and houses and whatever else," he said.

"It's our job to keep their feet on the ground and their support system at home is important too, just to make sure they stay who they are."

So who are the teenagers making a name for themselves this summer? Tweet #bbccricket to let us know your suggestions.

BBC Sport's Teenage County Championship XI

Aneurin Donald (Glamorgan, 18)

Aneurin Donald
Aneurin Donald scored a double century for Glamorgan second XI

Swansea-born Donald made his debut for his home county last September against Hampshire at the age of 17 and scored 59 in the second innings.

A battling fifty in the match against Essex at Chelmsford this summer, followed by 240 off just 188 balls for Glamorgan seconds, showed why he is so highly regarded by the Welsh county.

Dominic Sibley (Surrey, 19)

Surrey youth product Sibley came to prominence in September 2013, when at the age of 18 years and 21 days, he became the youngest player to hit a Championship double century.

His 242 against Yorkshire came in just his third first-class match and remains his only hundred to date.

Dan Lawrence (Essex, 18)

Given his place in the Essex side because of injuries and Indian Premier League commitments, Lawrence took his chance in just his second first-class game.

At the age of 17 years and 290 days, he became the third youngest batsman to make a Championship century when he hit 161 against Surrey at The Oval in April.

Joe Clarke (Worcestershire, 19)

Joe Clarke Ben Cox
Michael Vaughan says Joe Clarke (right) has a "sound game"

England Under-19 wicketkeeper-batsman Clarke scored three Championship half-centuries in his first nine innings. His maiden century soon followed, an unbeaten 131 against local rivals Gloucestershire in the One-Day Cup.

Big things are expected of the Shrewsbury-born 19-year-old - and former Test skipper Michael Vaughan has backed him to make England's Ashes tour squad in 2016-17.external-link

Matt Critchley (Derbyshire, 18)

After being given his first-class debut in May, Critchley made his mark in just his second game as he became the youngest Derbyshire centurion with 137 not out against Northants.

A useful leg-spinner, he returned career-best figures of 4-48 in the win over Northants in July.

Harvey Hosein (Derbyshire, 18, wk)

Although Hosein has struggled for runs at first-class level this summer, there is little doubt about his ability behind the stumps.

He made a record-breaking debut against Surrey at The Oval in September 2014 when he took 11 catches in the match to break the county record for most dismissals in a match by a wicketkeeper.

Ed Barnard (Worcestershire, 19)

Ed Barnard
Ed Barnard signed a new three-year contract with Worcestershire last week

Like his England Under-19 team-mate Joe Clarke, all-rounder Barnard has impressed during his first season at New Road.

He played in all but one of Worcestershire's T20 Blast games and also enjoyed a fine match against Somerset in the One-Day Cup with a half-century and three wickets.

Luke Wood (Nottinghamshire, turned 20 on 2 August)

Luke Wood had a previous highest score of just 26 when he smashed 100 off 96 balls in June against Sussex while batting at number nine and followed it up with a half-century in the same game.

The left-armer bowler has become a mainstay this season in a Notts side full of internationals.

Other teenagers on the county circuit this summer
Matthew Fisher, Karl Carver, Ryan Gibson, Josh Shaw, Matthew Waite (Yorkshire), Alex Hepburn (Worcestershire), Haseeb Hameed & Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire), Jack Burnham (Durham), Saif Zaib (Northants), Ryan Davies (Kent), Callum Taylor (Essex), Miles Hammond (Gloucestershire), Zak Chappell (Leicestershire), George Scott (Middlesex), Fynn Hudson-Prentice (Sussex), Sam Hain (Warwickshire, turned 20 on 16 July)

Sam Curran (Surrey, 17)

Curran may be the youngest member of our teenage XI, but he has arguably made the biggest impact for his county this summer with an array of fine fast-bowling performances.

He's pretty handy with the bat too, making a few useful contributions in the lower order.

Mason Crane (Hampshire, 18)

The lack of decent English leg-spinners has long been talked about, but the emergence of Crane at Hampshire this season has certainly generated plenty of excitement.

A product of the club's cricket academy, Crane has become an integral part of Hampshire's bowling line up already and claimed his maiden five-wicket haul in just his second first-class match against Warwickshire.

Brad Wheal (Hampshire, 18)

South Africa-born Brad Wheal is another youngster making a name for himself at the Ageas Bowl.

Wheal was expected to spend the summer playing club cricket, but was handed a surprise debut in May and responded by removing Sam Robson at the end of his third over.

Interviews by Rob Stevens and Kevan James

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