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Tim Wigmore at Hove
May 2, 2013
Sussex 129 for 1 (Wells 76*) trail Warwickshire 453 all out (Trott 96, Woakes 72, Jordan 4-73) by 324 runs
There has long been chatter over Chris Jordan's international allegiance, but it has somehow never really felt relevant - a topic best reserved for a rainy day. But as the sun shone at Hove, the subject of whether he would sooner play for England or the West Indies felt rather more than a time-passing hypothetical.
Warwickshire have a formidable fast bowling trio in Chris Woakes, Chris Wright and Boyd Rankin, but Jordan has so far outshone them all. His downhill spell (which began on the first evening) with the second new ball - 15-3-39-4 - contained sustained pace, bounce and movement both ways. A ball that left Jonathan Trott just enough to claim his edge and deny him a century stood out.
That he was denied his third five-wicket haul of the season owed only to two dropped chances off his bowling - Woakes was reprieved by Rory Hamilton-Brown in the gully on 4 - but his season's work now amounts to 17 wickets at 18 apiece.
Both the English and West Indian selectors may be interested to learn that Jordan refuses to commit to any country. He has played for Barbados over the last two years. "I just want to keep putting performances in for Sussex and obviously if international honours come on the back of that I'd be more than happy," he said.
His multifarious cricketing talents - Jordan is also an excellent slip-fielder - will become even more enticing if he can make good on Sussex coach Mark Robinson's assertion that "he's got 850 Championship runs in him if he applies himself."
The vigour of Jordan's Sussex start prompts the question of whether the club's old-fashioned TLC is the salient contrast with his Surrey career, in which he failed to match the 20 wickets of his 2007 breakthrough season. "I'm definitely getting a bit more playing time so that's probably a change," he said. "Since I've been here everyone has helped me settle off the field quite quickly which has in turn helped me to get on with my game on the field… If there's any difference it's probably that."
The ideal foil for Jordan - Steve Magoffin's parsimony and tenacity - was also on the field for Sussex. Unfortunately it was only to receive his Sussex Player of the Year award for last season, though he should return from injury for Sussex's next game.
Woakes took advantage of his absence in a well-crafted 72 that may reinvigorate one of the cricketing Twitterati's favourite debates: could he bat at No. 7 for England? He will face better bowling attacks on more difficult tracks than this, but Woakes has an authority and range of shots that suggests he could replicate his considerable county success - he averaged 71 last season and 75 so far in this - at international level.
Not everyone agrees. After a couple of particularly well timed off drives, a pair of supporters engaged in the seemingly obligatory Woakes allrounder debate. "More Derek Pringle than Ian Botham" one pithily concluded. So that was that, even as Woakes launched Monty Panesar over long-on for six. Panesar, bowling with a little more flight than the opening day, soon dismissed him attempting a repeat.
Like his team-mates, Woakes was unable to extract as much from the wicket as Jordan. Typically frugal, he had the misfortune of encountering Luke Wells in one of his unyielding moods. Accumulating in an undemonstrative manner and timing the ball particularly sweetly on the legside, Wells batted as serenely as he had in registering 208 at The Oval last week.
It was a matter of surprise when he almost fell to a sharp return catch to Jeetan Patel. After a century stand that oozed inevitability, his opening partner Chris Nash had earlier been dismissed in Chris Wright's impressive end-of-day spell, William Porterfield parrying the ball onto Varun Chopra in the slips.
Had Sussex shown similar juggling ability in the field - they dropped three chances in all, including Trott on 1 - they might have aspirations of victory. Instead the spectre of further "attritional cricket", as Robinson put it, looms.
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