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March 7, 2014
If Bill Athey, the former England batsman, had not gone on a reconnaissance trip to Barbados to seek out a potential cricketer for a scholarship at Dulwich College, Chris Jordan might conceivably have been lining up for West Indies against England in Barbados on Sunday.
Kensington Oval, after all, was where Jordan watched from the stands, played on the outfield in front of the old media box and even took part in the first match after the ground had been refurbished in time for the 2007 World Cup.
But Athey liked what he saw and Jordan found himself living among the unaccustomed splendour of Dulwich College, an independent school in South East London which is approaching its 400th anniversary, where England and Sri Lanka trained during the Champions Trophy last summer, and where there are comfortably more artificial outdoor cricket pitches than any county ground in the land.
At 25, and with the best year of his career behind him, Jordan is strong enough to cope with the inevitable consequence of his change of allegiance, knowing that, if he wins a place in the final XI in the first of three Twenty20 internationals on Sunday, for every well-wisher there could be a partisan West Indies who will be happy to see him fall flat on his face.
But his task in the three Twenty20 internationals at Kensington Oval is to get his preparations for World Twenty20 in Bangladesh right on track and contribute to the lifting of morale in an England side that has gained some release with a 2-1 ODI series win in Antigua, but which few people regard as serious challengers in World Twenty20.
Jordan waved aside the crowd reaction he might face as "pretty irrelevant really," adding "As long as my friends and my family are backing me, that's honestly all that matters. It doesn't matter who I play for at the end of the day, my family and friends will back me 100 per cent and that's all that matters.''
Jordan still returns regularly to Barbados to look up old friends and old haunts. After he practiced at Kensington Oval, he recalled: "I used to sit down in the old press box - and as these kids are doing now, I used to go on the field at lunchtimes and have little games. I really do remember it.''
The ground had quite a makeover for the World Cup, turning from a homely ground with a stirring tradition to a sports stadium. As the renovations took place, Jordan himself was among those who first experienced the changing atmosphere from the middle. "It has changed so much," he said.
For all the stirred memories, he says he remains proud of his return with England to his native land. "I'm very proud actually,'' he said. "Obviously I grew up here ... but I went to England and learned most of my trade there. I'm more than happy with the decision I've made.''
Injury problems disrupted his development in England, and only when he moved from Surrey to Sussex for the 2013 season did he really make a breakthrough. In that phase of his career, he had better fortune for Barbados - but by then he was classified as an overseas player. There would be no thoughts of going back.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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