Chris Jordan – England’s Bowling Architect

Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Chris Jordan - England's bowling architect. Jordan has played i 48 of England's 50 T20I games between the two World Cups.

Chris Jordan – England’s Bowling ArchitectJordan has played i 48 of England's 50 T20I games between the two World Cups.

To get a sense of how important Chris Jordan is to England's T20 team, you only have to watch him in the field when he is not bowling.

In the Powerplay, you will see Eoin Morgan consult him before nearly every delivery. They will be in regular communication throughout the rest of the innings too. All the other fast-bowlers will speak to Jordan at the start of their overs, sometimes with Morgan there, other times without. You will see Jordan suggest a field change or a different line of attack after they have been hit for a boundary or two. Sometimes he will run in from the boundary – he is usually in the key fielding position – to talk to Morgan and the bowler mid-over. There is rarely a key decision that Jordan is not part of.

Although he may not receive as much attention as some of the more high-profile players, Jordan's influence on this England T20 side has been obvious for some time and that is before you even consider his importance with ball in hand. As the team's main death bowler, Jordan's performances over the next three weeks in the UAE will go a long way to deciding how well England do in this World Cup. The focus on him will be even greater in the absence of his friend Jofra Archer who would have been England's go-to bowler at the death had he been fit. With Archer's unavailability leaving a huge hole in the side, Jordan has an even greater load to bear.

It is not ideal then that he heads into the World Cup having had an up and down year in T20I cricket. In ten matches in 2021, his economy at the death has been 10.58. England won seven of those matches, it must be said, and Jordan's overall economy rate this year of 8.73 is decent enough, particularly when you consider he often also bowls at least one over in the Powerplay. By his own admission, he is also only starting to feel back to full confidence after serious bicep surgery last July. Even so, it has been an inconsistent period.

Not that England's faith in Jordan has ever really wavered. They value the qualities he brings to the team, both as a bowler and a leader. Firstly, and most obviously, he is a vastly experienced operator. In the five years since the last World Cup, Jordan has played 48 of England's 50 T20Is, more than anybody else including Morgan. He has taken more T20I wickets for England than anybody else too and played in every leading T20 franchise competition around the world. He also played a prominent role in the last T20 WC.

At big tournaments, Morgan values that sort of experience. It is part of the reason the likes of Chris Woakes and Liam Dawson were chosen for this World Cup rather than younger, less experienced options like Saqib Mahmood and Matt Parkinson. Morgan places a lot of trust in the experience that Jordan has built up. He values the lessons Jordan has learnt – both good and bad – over the course of his 244 T20 career games.

His great strength is helping the young players. He always moves himself to the less experienced players in the squad as a reassuring voice.

Then there are his skills. Jordan is seen by England as one of their best yorker bowlers which is the reason they use him at the death. He almost always bowls the key 19th over of the innings. “His yorker, especially bowling at the back end of the game, that's where I feel his real value is to the team,” Jon Lewis, the ECB's lead fast-bowling coach, tells Cricbuzz. “His yorker, on all different angles, over the wicket, round the wicket, in at the heels, out wide, when he gets those balls right, that's when his value is at his best.”

There is little margin for error when attempting to bowl yorkers at the death, of course. That's where Jordan has had a few issues this year. The warm-up game against India earlier this week was another occasion when Jordan didn't execute his yorkers well enough. His England teammate Tymal Mills has been a superb death bowler for a number of years in domestic cricket but he generally avoids bowling yorkers in that phase of the game. As a result, Mills' margin for error is greater than Jordan's. When Jordan misses his yorker, it invariably gets hammered.

There is an acceptance from England's management that Jordan will sometimes go the distance. It is, after all, an occupational hazard for a T20 death bowler. But they also believe he has the ability and the levelheadedness to deliver in those clutch moments more often than anyone else currently available. He has certainly done it before in international cricket.

Jordan doesn't just bowl at the death, of course. He nearly always bowls his four overs so as many as twelve or eighteen of his deliveries each match are outside that phase of the game. As a result, Lewis encourages Jordan to concentrate on his full pace, top of off-stump deliveries as well. “When his pace on balls are at their best, he is at his most effective,” Lewis, who worked with Jordan at Sussex before moving to the ECB, says. “I always encourage him to really focus in on his pace-on balls, to make sure his top of the stump ball in the early part of the game is really on point.

“He has got lots of other skills as well, lots of other slower balls that he has picked up over time. Those balls are, I think, a secondary but important part of his game. When he gets his pace on balls right, that's when he is at his best. He can bowl quick, too. Definitely. I have seen him bowl up to and over 90mph at times. He is not a massively tall man so if you can bowl at that pace, you get the ball underneath the bat which is an advantage bowling at the back-end as well.”

Jordan spends a lot of time working on his yorkers in training but he also mixes his preparation up, more so than some other bowlers might. “It's generally based around his yorker and his variation, his slower ball,” Lewis says. “But he does lots of different types of practise, at targets, at batsmen, under pressure, without pressure. He will do a practise where the coach calls which line to bowl right at the last moment – I mean just as he is taking off to bowl. The coach will stand at the stumps and say, ‘wide', ‘heels', ‘off-stump', whatever, so he can try and react quickly.”

Lewis describes Jordan as a “curious” cricketer and “very reflective” on his own performances. “He is a real deep thinker about his own game and his own skills,” Lewis adds. With that thought process comes confidence and belief in his decision making. This summer Jordan captained Sussex for a few T20 Blast matches. In early June, against Gloucestershire, the data showed that left-arm spin was a good option against their openers but Jordan was adamant that Sussex should opt to bowl seam at them instead. He did not bring spin on until late in the innings and Sussex comfortably won the game. He trusted his judgement completely.

Like he does with England, Jordan carried a lot of influence at Sussex too. Three people Cricbuzz spoke to for this article mentioned that relationship building was one of Jordan's key strengths. He is understood to have a very good relationship with all of England's bowlers and he is particularly close to Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid. Clearly Morgan trusts him implicitly as well. With Jordan having left Sussex at the end of this season to return to Surrey, it would be little surprise to see Archer join him at the Oval in the future given the strength of their bond.

“His great strength is helping the young players,” Lewis says. “He always moves himself to the less experienced players in the squad as a reassuring voice. He is really calm, a real optimist and has his own style of communicating, keeping things very light but clear. He has also got a good tactical brain and a great knowledge of lots of players around the world.

“You mix those things together – the empathy for young players and the understanding that you can't always get it right, the optimism that if I get one wrong, I can get the next one right and the knowledge and information from playing all round the world – I am not surprised that Eoin likes having him at mid-off and communicating. Morgs leans on him a lot.”

That will be the case over the next three weeks too as England bid to become the first team to hold both the 50 and 20-over World Cups at the same time. If they manage it, Jordan will no doubt have been at the centre of things, both as a bowler and leader, offering advice to his captain, supporting his teammates, bowling the pressure overs and fielding in the prime positions. Chris Jordan may not get the headlines but his importance to England in T20 cricket cannot be overstated. And in this World Cup, they badly need him to deliver.

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