April 12, 2013

Jordan debut poses questions for Surrey

Six wickets on Chris Jordan's Sussex debut not only put the skids under Yorkshire it puts the spotlight on Surrey's decision to let him go

For Surrey fans, the curious case of case of Chris Jordan raises some interesting questions this week owing to his impressive debut for Sussex. Let me get my caveat out of the way at the outset of this post: no conclusions can be drawn on the basis of one innings, for either a batsman or a bowler. Nonetheless, like I said, questions...

Jordan returned figures of 6-48 from 15 overs bowling first change for Sussex against Yorkshire at Headingley. By all accounts, the 24-year-old Barbadian bowled with no little skill and pace. In five seasons with Surrey he had failed to register a single five-wicket haul. He skips town to our South Coast rivals and lo and behold, he's bagged a six-fer in his first game. When he departed the club at the end of 2012, I came to the conclusion that a change of scenery might just do the trick for him. Based on today's efforts, it certainly has.

The talented allrounder never lacked chances at Surrey. He played 40 first-class matches for the club and, in addition to no five-fors, he also never scored a hundred, registering only four fifties in his time. A talent unfulfilled or not much of a talent at all? The general consensus, not least from Mark Ramprakash, who tweeted: 'Chris Jordan 6 wickets for Sussex on debut v Yorkshire, but not good enough for Surrey !?!?' is the former, so what went wrong?

Jordan is one of the more infuriating Surrey players of recent years. Inconsistent doesn't quite do it justice. In the opening game of last season - against Sussex funnily enough - he bowled some excellent spells and came away with 3-29. A corner had been turned, the Surrey faithful rejoiced! Not so. On that day, as on pretty much every day he bowled, he was quick, really quick, but there would always be too many deliveries just asking to be hit to the boundary. He also had a knack of bowling no balls and took an absolute age to get back to his mark, contributing to some disastrously slow over rates.

He certainly had his fair share of injury, missing the entirety of 2010 with a back injury and there were others besides which won't have helped his progression one iota. Perhaps he wasn't given the guidance and coaching he needed; it's certainly hard to doubt his raw ability. Or maybe he didn't work hard enough at his own game? You might get different versions of the same story from player and club. Rory Hamilton-Brown talked of Sussex being a more "caring" club - maybe that is how Jordan needs to feel about his surroundings as well.

If he continues this progress, talk of an international career will be revived before long. Should his talent with bat and ball begin to be fulfilled it will look like a very poor decision by Surrey to let him leave the club. The argument that he'd have struggled to get into the starting XI of a squad with so much seam bowling talent doesn't hold water for me - Jordan is an allrounder, and genuine allrounders are conspicuous by their absence from the Oval this pre-season (indeed fast bowling allrounders are pretty rare full stop).

Whether Jordan really makes his old club live to regret letting him depart remains to be seen. I suspect he'll be very keen to make a point when Sussex visit the Oval at the end of April. Every club says goodbye to players who go on to make it big (or nearly big) somewhere else and as I said above any definitive judgement is hugely premature, but it will be fascinating to see how Jordan develops during the 2013 season. And in the absence of a Surrey match this week it does at least give me something to worry about.

Josh Green has been riding the Surrey cricket blogging rollercoaster since 2009. He tweets here