Jordan can boost Sussex from mediocrity
"Start as you mean to go on" might be a clichéd old maxim, but if Sussex's innings-and-12-run victory over Yorkshire was a statement of intent for the 2013 season, then it's one worth using here.
We obliterated Yorkshire in the first Championship match of the season at Headingley. So much so that ESPNcricinfo's Andrew McGlashan tipped us for the Division One title on the latest edition of the Switch Hit podcast. I always said he was a wise man.
Yorkshire will undoubtedly play better this season, and while bowling first in seam-friendly conditions was beneficial to our bowling attack of James Anyon, Steve Magoffin and Chris Jordan, it was still a big effort to bowl them out for under 100 - a side tipped by one David Hopps as a value bet for the Championship. They are even better value after round one.
Chris Nash's quick-fire 80 from 87 balls quickly took the game away from Yorkshire. The run rate was of particular importance given the amount of cricket lost to rain and bad light throughout the game.
Nash took a while to get going at the beginning of last season, with starts not being converted in the trickier batting conditions of April and May. This knock - containing 13 fours and some sublime driving - coming on the back of a run-a-ball hundred against Hampshire in pre-season, suggest Nashy has got his eye in early this year. Division One bowling attacks will know his is the key wicket against us, while the England Lions squad might not be out of his reach this year.
Across all eight Championship games in week one, few debuts hit the heights of Chris Jordan's. He took a superb 6 for 48 on that first day at Headingley. The Yorkshire batsmen seemed to struggle with his pace, while his line to their left-handers in particular was spot on, making the likes of Andrew Gale and Gary Ballance fend just outside off stump, edging behind on both occasions.
It was a performance that left Surrey fans scratching their heads - Jordan failed to take a single five-wicket haul in 36 first-class matches for our dear neighbours. Many Surrey fans grew tired with some erratic bowling and a propensity to dally on the way back to his bowling mark. Arguably it was the right time for all concerned that Jordan moved on but if he can continue the form shown at Headingley, and in pre-season, Mark Robinson will have clinched an excellent signing.
Jordan was recommended to Sussex by the returning Rory Hamilton-Brown, who clearly saw the same qualities in Jordan that his coaches back home had seen as he was growing up in the Caribbean, prompting talk that he could represent West Indies in the future. Time will tell - one innings does not make a bowler - but it's a ruddy good start.
On the subject of RHB, it's a little early to be assessing his return to Hove after a fluent - if short-lived - innings of 26 in Leeds. Everyone knows the hellish year Rory endured last year. Many observers have opined over RHB's comments that he wanted to leave Surrey for to a more "caring" club. I can understand Surrey fans' disappointment with those quotes, but let's give him a chance. He is still a young man and one that lost his best friend and team-mate in tragic circumstances less than a year ago. Hopefully Hamilton-Brown will return the faith Robbo has shown in bringing him back to Hove by scoring a stack of runs, something we all know he is capable of doing.
For new skipper Ed Joyce, it was the ideal first game in charge. Not only did his side win comfortably, he also contributed 92 runs with the bat, having dropped down the batting order to No. 4. We looked lively in the field, albeit with an overthrown boundary conceded, and with good batting options down to No. 8, Sussex shouldn't struggle for runs this year. New-ball pair Magoffin and Anyon will cause problems, and with Jordan and Monty Panesar - when available - the skipper has a potent, well-balanced attack at his disposal, one that should trouble most sides.
It's quite easy chewing the fat of an opening game victory rather than putting right the errors of a heavy defeat, and while it is only one game out of 16 in a long campaign, the early signs this season are promising.
This week we'll be making the short trip up the A23 to The Oval for our next Championship match against Surrey, and with Jordan and Hamilton-Brown hoping to prove a point to their former employers, the match promises to be spicier than a jalapeño-laden vindaloo.
I'm sure Surrey will welcome their old boys back, but hopefully they can help us secure our second away win in a row. With our first home game against Warwickshire starting on May 1 - coinciding with the start of the club's five-day beer festival - it's the ideal time to show this division that we are not content with mid-table mediocrity this year - we're aiming to win it.
Tom Huelin also writes for a county cricket website, Deep Extra Cover, and describes himself as a left-arm spinner of no repute. He tweets here