England in Australia 2013-14

Jordan swings into contention

The bowling of Chris Jordan has been a positive for England as they seek World Cup pointers from a demoralising one-day series

Vithushan Ehantharajah

January 21, 2014

Comments: 16 | Text size: A | A

Chris Jordan celebrates his first wicket on ODI debut, England v Australia, 5th Natwest ODI, Ageas Bowl, September 16, 2013
Chris Jordan has been the pick of England's bowlers in the series so far © Getty Images
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After two matches in three days, both of contrasting tempo and drama but both falling Australia's way, the working week between Sydney and Perth provides England with a welcome break. Alastair Cook, who seems to have developed a dismay-induced twitch, could do with spending these days in a flotation tank pumped full of whale noises and opium.

With the series already gone, the hosts are doing their utmost to ensure that any England victory at the WACA will be a hollow one, resting a host of their big guns. At a glance, George Bailey will captain, Matthew Wade will keep wicket and Prime Minister Tony Abbott could be asked to take the new ball. The fourth ODI will tell us more of Australia's depth than England's will to awaken from this defeat coma.

If Ashley Giles and, potentially, Cook are to build effectively for next year's World Cup, they will need to strip the absolutes of these first three results, in the games that mattered most, and look at what they have to work with.

Cook and Ian Bell's partnership at the top of the order in games two and three; Gary Ballance's 79 at the MCG; Eoin Morgan's century at the Gabba, coupled with Jos Buttler's contributions in the last 10 overs to take England to 300. These suggest the batting is in a sound place.

It's a trickier task picking out positives from the bowling, but there are certainly some key points for reflection. They whittle down to the good (Chris Jordan), the fad (Ben Stokes) and the struggling (Boyd Rankin).

Revitalised by moving to Sussex last year, Jordan has been the pick of the bowlers so far. His pace has been consistently high and he has relished the challenge of international cricket, even if he hides it well behind a serene exterior.

Brett Lee, captain of the Prime Minister's XI, was a fan after one viewing, as Jordan was unlucky to finish with just one wicket from his five overs in England's rare victory in Canberra last week. "Someone who has got serious raw pace and can swing the ball away is destined to get a lot of wickets," Lee said. He'd know. But those qualities did not come easy to Jordan.

As a kid, Jordan indulged in all the bad habits young bowlers adopt in the pursuit of speed. His run-up was a lengthy 25 steps, which he would sprint through with an erratic stride pattern. At the crease, he would fall away and his wrist position left a lot to be desired. Any swing he did impart was coincidental and wayward.

Not surprisingly, stress fractures of the back followed, and Jordan missed the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Then came clarity, through a desire to turn potential into something real.

The run-up was shortened and his feet placement was made more precise to establish an optimum speed of approach. While he may now resemble a car spluttering on its final fumes of petrol, the benefits are there for all to see.

His back issues were rectified by a gym programme rich in daily core work. "I just got strong," Jordan said, in that Barbadian twang which makes everything sound effortless, when asked about how he maintained an extended period free from injury last season. Any excess strain on the left side of his lower back was removed by a taller presence at the crease, while a neat trick to lock his wrist into position, which involves placing his right thumb over just one half of the seam, has ensured a cleaner presentation and greater oomph.

 
 
"Mediocre, at best," was Stokes' own frank assessment of his limited-overs bowling last year
 

On the other hand, Stokes presents something of a conundrum with bat and ball. Coming in at first drop in Sydney was a good show of intent from England, despite Giles ruling out such a move a few days earlier, but Stokes struggled to get going before falling to a blinding catch by Michael Clarke. His best position is certainly down the order, as his domestic success as "finisher" for Durham suggests. At the very least he should be pushed ahead of Ravi Bopara, who has scored only 35 runs off 34 deliveries in the second Powerplay (the most faced by any England batsman).

But Stokes' work with the ball has been disappointing, with an economy rate of 7.00. Defending 243 at the SCG, Cook used Stokes as his sixth option, asking for only three overs from him. Stokes was impatient, varying his length unnecessarily and went on to concede 23 runs. His inability to nail his yorkers at the Gabba played into the hands of James Faulkner, who hit Stokes for five maximums in the bowler's last three overs, which cost a game-changing 37.

In truth, Stokes has been frustrated by his limited-overs bowling for the last 12 months. At Durham, it was his responsibility to bowl in the Powerplays and return at the business end to finish the innings off. His practice is always thorough and methodical, consisting of yorkers, slower balls and other variations, but his inability to replicate these skills effectively in a match irked him. "It's mediocre, at best," was his own frank assessment of his form in last year's YB40 and FLt20 competitions.

Then there is Rankin, the man sacrificed for Stuart Broad's despondent return at the SCG. It was on ODI form that Rankin earned his spot in the Ashes touring party, yet four matches of carrying drinks and a grossly disappointing Test debut have seemingly robbed him of the malice he showed back home.

In the second ODI, he was unable to complete his allotted overs after pulling his hamstring, casting further doubts about his fitness at this level. The international schedule is unrelenting and it seems to have already proved too much for Rankin. His fielding, for sure, is far from international class.

It's clear that Giles thinks highly of Rankin, who he coached at Warwickshire, but it is already clear that Rankin will need a good deal more work and continued management to coax further quality from him. Time is running out for Rankin to show England that he's worth the hassle, and the worry for him is that he may not be afforded further opportunities to do so.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by salazar555 on (January 23, 2014, 22:40 GMT)

I wouldn't get too carried away, it's a bit like Stokes, he's not doing great but amongst a lot of rubbish it's making him and his stats seem better than they are.

His economy is close to 6 runs per over and he's taking wickets at an average of 39. Only in a tour this bad could those be stand out numbers

Posted by CodandChips on (January 23, 2014, 8:03 GMT)

@Inside hedge Giles forced Rankin to commit to England when he was Warwickshire coach. It was the only way Rankin could sign a new Warwickshire contract. He had to commit to England and Warwickshire.

Posted by InsideHedge on (January 23, 2014, 3:01 GMT)

Rankin bowls 2nd change for Warwickshire, and rarely manages two championship games in a row without breaking down. His other specialty is to report unfit in April. How Giles, his coach till recently at Warwicks, then saw fit to pick him for international duty is beyond my comprehension.

I was pleasantly surprised when he bowled decently in the ODIs last summer but the performances were never so ground breaking that he deserved a shot on the Ashes tour. First cramp/nerves was used as an excuse, now the real reason has been given: he's unfit despite having put in no work for months.

George has also reminded us that he can't field but forgot to mention that he can't bat. Many will say he can't bowl too well either. Cruel perhaps but I get the feeling it was Giles who convinced him to forgo Ireland and qualify for England.

Posted by trigga315 on (January 23, 2014, 0:06 GMT)

The real issue in the English bowling line up is the spin bowler, if England don't play a spinner Jordan is a much better chance to get regular play in the world cup. Comparing Tredwell to Ajmal, Narine, Doherty/Lyon, Ashwin/Jadeja, Mendis/Herath or Patel/McCuullum/Vettori is just a laughable exercise.

England Bowling Line up for world cup Certainties Anderson, Broad Most Likely: Stokes, Bresnan, Bopara Possibles: Tredwell, Root, Rankin, Panesar ,Jordan

Posted by Patchmaster on (January 22, 2014, 23:49 GMT)

Ballance instead or Cook for the test side.

Posted by Roshan_P on (January 22, 2014, 20:35 GMT)

He does seem to be a good bowler. For the next Test seriesI think it would be a good idea to rest Anderson and play Jordan instead, along with Graham Onions (he should now be a certainty) so that you can have a look at how the attack will be without Anderson. Plus Jimmy deserves a rest!

Posted by   on (January 22, 2014, 14:59 GMT)

Jordan looks good/We will also have Anderson back to compliment him and Broad.Moeen Ali is worth a punt and should have been drafted into squad instead of Woakes. Rankin looks devoid of confidence at this level so I would move on from him. In the right conditions and with the right team we can give any one a decent game.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (January 22, 2014, 13:52 GMT)

Reading Bradman it is easy to forget that this team had beaten Australia in 4 of the previous 5 series. A successful lack of talent to boot!

However, the point is well taken and it is one that Australia will face after the South Africa series, given that their side is significantly older than the England side that they faced: renewal is necessary and the worst error is to go on for one series too long. There are a series of slots up for grabs and, for a change, early season County Championship form is really going to count for something. I am not panicking here - there are a lot of class batsmen out there who have not got a look-in apart from in the Lions. The bowling, to me, is more of an issue - removing Tremlett, Shazad, Bresnan, Swann, Finn, Rankin, Monty, etc. from the pool of selectables does leave a gap, but there is still some handy talent around.

Posted by BradmanBestEver on (January 22, 2014, 8:29 GMT)

The English should persevere with this guy - he has more grunt than the current test team combined barring Stokes. And he seems to have some talent to boot

They need to find other similar players of character and replace the dead wood from the test team

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (January 22, 2014, 7:41 GMT)

@Codandchips That is exactly what I was saying. I would have taken Jordan instead of Tremlett and called up Jordan when Swann went home!

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