Jordan quietly indispensable in the lead up to T20 World Cup

England have used 29 players in 23 T20I matches since the 2016 World T20 in India. The format has largely been used to rest all-format players and blood new ones but there has been one ever-present: Chris Jordan has played all those 23 games.

Picking up two wickets against New Zealand in the first T20I in Christchurch has taken Jordan’s haul to 31 wickets in that time, significantly higher than England’s next best, Adil Rashid, who has 23 wickets albeit from three matches less. Jordan’s strike rate in that period is an impressive wicket every 16 deliveries and his economy of 8.57 is decent enough given when he tends to bowl his overs.

None of those statistics are outstanding, of course. Jordan took four for six in two overs against West Indies in March but has largely delivered solid, rather than spectacular, returns for England in the past three years. He chips in and does his stuff, leaving others to take the plaudits. He has failed to take a wicket in just one of his last seven T20Is for instance. In those matches, he has conceded more than eight runs an over just twice. Solid, dependable, getting the job done.

But despite being an ever-present, it is difficult to tell where Jordan sits in the pecking order given England have rarely had all their first choice bowlers available during the last three years. Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer are shoe-ins for next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia while Mark Wood and David Willey could come back into contention too. Tom Curran was impressive in Christchurch while Pat Brown and Saqib Mahmood are highly thought of. There is plenty of competition.

Nevertheless, Jordan is quietly making himself indispensable to this England team. His performance at Hagley Oval on Friday evening does not leap off the scorecard. Figures of 2 for 28 will not garner many headlines and Curran arguably bowled better albeit without taking a wicket. But Jordan was largely on the money in Christchurch, bowling at the most difficult times and not giving New Zealand an inch. It’s what he has been doing for England for the best part of three years.

His first over on Friday was the last of the Powerplay overs with the home side looking to make up for lost ground after scoring just 15 runs from the opening 24 deliveries. The fifth over, bowled by Sam Curran, had gone for 21 as New Zealand picked up the pace. But instead of the momentum continuing, Jordan’s sixth over halted it. He conceded just three runs and picked up the crucial wicket of Colin Munro who had smashed England for an unbeaten hundred in the second warm-up match. Job done.

It was just a one-over spell. After all, Jordan’s main role in this England team is to bowl at the back end of the innings, the time with the most pressure for a bowler as the opposition look for a grandstand finish. His repertoire of slower balls and ability to nail yorkers make him ideally suited for the job. The experience gleaned from 164 career T20s, and competitions such as the IPL and Big Bash, helps too.

Jordan’s second over was the 14th of the innings. At 93 for 3, New Zealand had a decent platform and two players in Tim Seifert and Ross Taylor who were in and looking to kick on. England needed a wicket and, somewhat fortunately, Jordan delivered, removing Seifert first ball from a full toss which the batsman could only hoick down deep midwicket’s throat.

The delivery was reviewed for height and replays showed it was just about under Seifert’s waist the batsman had to go. If the opening delivery had a fair slice of fortune, the next five balls certainly did not: one, one, dot, one, dot. There were two cleverly disguised slower balls in there, including one that Taylor is still trying to pick. Three runs, one wicket. A carbon copy of Jordan’s first over.

It was another one over spell but Jordan returned soon enough to bowl the 17th and 19th overs, trusted by Morgan to bowl two of the four death overs. Thirteen runs came from the first of them, an otherwise excellent over ruined by a leg stump full-toss from the final delivery which was dispatched for six by Daryl Mitchell. Jordan’s fourth over had no such easy pickings. Nine runs came from it, an excellent result at that stage of the innings. And had James Vince not shelled a straightforward chance from Ross Taylor on the boundary, it would have been even better.

It was yet another decent day at the office for Jordan, continuing his good form in T20Is. It is a strange anomaly however that his domestic T20 form has dropped away as his international displays have held firm. He had a poor Vitality T20 Blast for Sussex, averaging 30 and conceding more than nine runs an over, and was equally expensive in five matches for Trinibago Knight Riders in the Caribbean Premier League in October and in a couple of matches in the Pakistan Super League before the English season. It is not easy to explain.

Not that that matters much if he keeps delivering for Morgan and England, even when the first choice players rested for this tour return. Jordan, who has now played 40 T20I matches, has been an ever present during the last three years for a reason. Reliable, highly skilled and calm under pressure, he has the trust of his captain. He may not grab many headlines, and he may sit behind others in the bowling pecking order, but Chris Jordan has become an important cog in England’s T20 machine.