West Indies v England, 3rd T20, Barbados March 13, 2014

Jordan enjoys a perfect homecoming

Chris Jordan's home-town heroics set up a win, but England would be well-served not congratulating themselves too hard on his emergence

Dobell: Jordan made all the difference

Perhaps it was fitting that, 33 years to the day since Roland Butcher became the first black man to represent England in Test cricket, another Barbadian should play such a significant role in an England victory on the same ground.

"Our boy, their bat", the local paper proclaimed when Butcher played. And they could have used the same headline here as Chris Jordan, on the outfield where he played as a boy and on the pitch where, in part, he learned his trade, produced an outrageous demonstration of clean hitting to take England's total out of the reach of West Indies.

Jordan thrashed three sixes from successive Dwayne Bravo deliveries and four in a final over of the England innings that yielded 26 runs. In a match decided by a margin of just five runs, it made all the difference.

Playing in front of his parents and sister, Jordan also claimed three wickets with his pace bowling and took an outstanding running catch on the midwicket boundary to account for the dangerous Bravo. Unsurprisingly, he was named Man of the Match and pronounced it a "very special occasion."

It all meant that England won their first T20 in six attempts and depart for Bangladesh with confidence at least a little higher than it might have been.

There were other areas of improvement. England at last utilised the Powerplay overs effectively - only twice have they scored more than the 64 for 0 they managed in the first six overs here - and put together an opening stand of 98 in 10.5 overs that should have been the platform for a match-defining total. They fielded significantly better than West Indies and, in James Tredwell and Ravi Bopara, again demonstrated bowlers who could flourish in Bangladesh.

But England would be deluding themselves if they concluded that they have settled upon a formula that will succeed in Bangladesh. This was a victory against a West Indies side resting some key players - most notably Chris Gayle and Samuel Badree - and one that owed rather too much to fortune for comfort.

England will be fortunate to come up against a bowler as raw as Sheldon Cottrell in the World T20. Cottrell, playing instead of Ravi Ramaul to provide him some exposure to this level of cricket ahead of Bangladesh, provided England with enough loose bowling to provide just the kick-start they required. That Michael Lumb, in particular, was able to sustain his bright start against more demanding bowlers, including Sunil Narine, was encouraging but there was no comparison to opening against Badree.

And, that it took Jordan's last-over heroics to ensure they won this game, underlines how badly England lost their way after the opening partnership. After reaching 96 without loss after 10 overs, England scored just 34 in the next seven and lost five wickets in the process.

They experimented with their third No. 3 in the three games and cannot be encouraged by the form of Ben Stokes, who missed a good slower ball by six inches and has now scored just 18 runs from his last seven international innings, or Eoin Morgan, who has not reached 20 in his four international innings on this tour. Had Dwayne Bravo not delivered an uncharacteristically poor final over of their innings, they would surely have squandered their bright start.

Even in the final over of the match, they enjoyed some fortune. Jade Dernbach, in a performance that typifies his career, produced a mixture of the wonderful and woeful in his four-over spell. It culminated in a wide from what should have been the last ball of the match to give West Indies a sniff of victory and then what would have been another wide had Darren Sammy not made contact from the last delivery. To suggest Dernbach held his nerve would be to judge from results not the process, though. In truth, he got away with it.

Most of all, though, it must be a concern that it took a Bajan playing in Barbados to rescue them from defeat. It must be a concern that, for all the money ploughed into academies, counties, youth development and schools in England that the national team are still as likely to turn to players brought up abroad to mark deficiencies in their own system.

To some extent this is to be celebrated. It reflects the mobile, multicultural society that the UK has developed into and it suggests that the days when race or religion were any impediment to progress are long gone, in cricket at least. England would be foolish and wrong not to utilise the benefits of its history and the attractions of county cricket to aspiring young cricketers.

But is worth reflecting on the reason why so many of England's finest players of recent years - from Kevin Pietersen to Jonathan Trott - have spent part of their youth in cultures which seem to produce more natural talent. The reliance upon such players has become disproportionate.

Might it be the same reason that England appear to produce fewer quality spin bowlers and fewer fast bowlers who are able to sustain the strains of a career at the top level? That all the coaches and academies in England are part of the problem. That the talent is coached out of many English players. That the desire for uniformity which dominated in England for so long - thankfully there are signs that it is changing - have actually held back young cricketers during those key childhood years when they should be learning the fundamentals.

That is not to say that Jordan and co. do not owe a great deal to county cricket. Even in the last year, since he was released by Surrey and moved to Sussex, he has come on in leaps and bounds. But it is telling that his career-best bowling performance - 7 for 43 - came in Bridgetown, admittedly on a different ground; the Three Ws Oval - almost exactly a year ago. He was playing for Barbados at the time. It is telling, too, that this match represented the first occasion most of his family had enjoyed the opportunity to see him play international cricket. Barbados remains the location of the family home.

So England may take the victory and they may take some confidence from that victory. But it is Barbados who can take pride in the fact that their tiny island - it is 20 miles long and a smile wide, the locals like to tell you - has produced yet another fine cricketer. England would be well-served not congratulating themselves too hard on his emergence.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • charlie on March 15, 2014, 5:11 GMT

    Who knows this could be the way in the future of cricket [ test included ] when players of different nations represent other nations . With so much cricket being played today and the number of talented players ,some of whom never get the opportunity to represent their nations ,this could be a good way forward . Jordan is just one of the latest example ,but I can see a few more of the region following suit . They are too many talented players waiting around for too few spots on a single team . In other words ,will we see an IPL approach to all formats of the sport allowing more of this talent on the international stage ?

  • Reuel on March 14, 2014, 15:05 GMT

    @ Warren Mendes, while i agree with most of your thoughts, Jordan had a choice, and he chose to play for England, they didn't hold a gun to his head and force him to play for them. I would love to see Jordan playing for us, but would he even be playing for the wi if he was still in the caribbean? Lets face it, our system here, isn't good, and most of our players need to play t20 cricket to even compete with the other world cricketers in terms of finance. If he is happy with his choice, then so am I.

  • ian on March 14, 2014, 9:27 GMT

    facebook posting@ 7:19GMT: LEAVE OUR WEST INDIES PLAYERS ALONE! Last summer, Chris Jordan told me at Arundel that he didn't mind which team he played for. 'Whoever asks me first' were his exact words. Well - who did ask and who didn't? And whilst you are bemoaning the small population of the WIndies, what do you say to NZ, total population: 4.5 million? I never hear them complaining about being rather short of people when it comes to international sport. Mind you, to be absolutely fair, NZ is a single nation... The Windies problem, it seems to me, is that that they are five or six competing nations - in everything except cricket. Unless there is genuine co-operation and a sense of the common good of WIndies cricket being more important than international rivalry, then there'll be division and that's no basis for producing the best possible team with a modern & cohesive infrastructure. Granted one wish for the future of Test cricket, I would wish for a great WIndies team to re-emerge.

  • o on March 14, 2014, 8:40 GMT

    Have to agree with Warren, it's not that Jordan wasn't on W.I radar either, he was since he was 18 at Surrey but if he were to take up West Indies A tour for example he would lose his ability and job playing County Cricket. Considering W.I does not have a professional league to fall back on it would be a big gamble to take to risk losing. Sadly it comes down to economics and It looks like Chesney Hughes may well go the same way (I noticed he no longer plays for Leewards) if he continues to progress it would be a shame for W.I to also lose him as he could potentially be the best replacement when the sad day comes that Chris Gayle has to hang up his boots.

  • Jackie on March 14, 2014, 8:21 GMT

    Barbados might be a tiny island but it lives and breathes cricket. The same isn't true of England any more. All the money ploughed into schools? Most state schools don't even play cricket. There's the answer to the question in a nutshell. Deals with pay TV Sky by businessmen running cricket plus politicians who believed cricket fields should be regarded as real estate and sold off are the real reason for the cultural decline of cricket in England. We are paying for some bad mistakes if you regard sport and cricket as important for our society. Even now the sports curriculum is being cut by the current government. In Australia most of the cricketers come from state schools. In England sports scholarships to private schools have to be wangled to support promising youngsters to have access to facilities! And that's supposed to be the solution!

  • Dummy4 on March 14, 2014, 7:19 GMT

    "It reflects the mobile, multicultural society that the UK has developed into and it suggests that the days when race or religion were any impediment to progress are long gone" - I dissagree with this. It's one thing to have a team that reflects the HOMEGROWN multiculturalism that is England today. It is entirely another thing for English cricket to steal foreign talent. Jordan, Morgan and Pieterson were not Englishmen when they were recruited for England. That's entirely different from excluding say, Ravi Bopara because he's of Indian extraction. A nation as large as England, with over 50 million homegrown citizens, should never need to pilfer players from places like the West Indies, which has a total population of less than 5 million. Especially when West Indies struggles so much to fund cricket development locally. Englang cricket is wealthy, so go develop some local kids in England. LEAVE OUR WEST INDIES PLAYERS ALONE!

  • Basil on March 14, 2014, 2:59 GMT

    What a joke! I understand that one doesn't need to be born in a particular country to represent it but in the case of Jordan - he is out and out Bajan. He shoiuld be playing for WI. This is turning into a mockery now....

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