Jordan banks on end-overs bowling to revitalise ODI career

Chris Jordan impressed upon the need to remain calm and have self-belief while bowling in the end-overs, qualities he exhibited to deny MS Dhoni in the first T20 in Kanpur

In the last two overs he bowled in Kanpur, Chris Jordan stuck to his plan of bowling yorkers throughout. He bowled 10 of his last 12 balls to MS Dhoni and conceded 16 runs off them, a strike rate of 160. What those numbers don't tell you is that Dhoni struggled to hit eight of those 10 balls cleanly. The moral victory was Jordan's.
This attacking and fearless bowling style makes him a vital cog in England's pace attack in the limited-overs formats. It was a testimony of how Jordan has become Eoin Morgan's go-to bowler in the slog overs, either to pick wickets or limit runs, or often both. It was reminiscent of how Jordan had bowled a barrage of yorkers to Pakistan's tail in his final two overs at Headingley in September, and a few months before that had helped England defend 171 in the World T20 semi-final against Sri Lanka in Delhi.
His first spell there read 2-0-16-1. He then returned to bowl with Sri Lanka needing 40 off 24 balls. He walked away with a fine second spell that read 2-0-12-3. It showed why he was rated highly as an end-overs bowler. Jordan, who addressed the media on the eve of the second T20I in Nagpur, was asked of what it takes to succeed in the end overs. He impressed upon the need to remain calm and have self-belief.
"Although T20 cricket can be a fast-paced game, I believe at the back-end of the innings you have to give yourself time," he said. "You have to try and take the sting out of the game, try to keep a very clear mindset especially when guys are trying to hit you over the ropes every single ball. That calmness and that whole notion of trying to give yourself time is something I try to use and luckily it works.
"Plans can change literally every ball because you're trying to stay one step ahead of the batsman every time, and at the back-end of the innings it could be a lot of commotion. You have to try and stay clear and think about simple things and executing them, that's what I try to do."
Jordan's yorkers have been a fundamental aspect of his end-overs bowling and are something he falls back on when summoned. Jordan said developing the wide yorker too was a result of increasing his variations to keep the batsmen guessing.
"It is a skill that I have worked on very, very hard whether it's in the nets or actually in games," Jordan said. "Most batsmen obviously want the ball in their arc and if you bowl at the stumps a lot, that's in their arc so you're backing yourself to execute the skill anyway. But I find that with that wide yorker, bowling the ball outside the batsman's arc even when you do bowl there still has to be some precision with it. I find bowling that ball more often than not buys you some dots and time, and helps you get ahead of the batsman and also pick a wicket in the innings.
"It came from first and foremost using variations. When I look at death bowling I think you can't be predictable, you have to use different variations and that doesn't necessarily have to be pace, it can be line or length and that's how I developed that ball. So instead of maybe bowling my slower one more often, I use the variation in line and bowl a wide yorker, straight yorker, at the back end of the innings."
Despite this expertise and the role he played in England's march to the World T20 final last year, Jordan was dropped for the ODIs against Bangladesh, India, and more recently the three ODIs against West Indies in March. His last ODI series was against Pakistan at home, where he produced figures of 2 for 42 from nine overs and 0 for 52 from 7.2. When asked to self-assess why he had been dropped, Jordan said it was about consistency.
"You are always disappointed when you have ambition and then do not get selected," he stated. "Disappointment is an emotion that I think is warranted. I would want to get back into the ODI and the Test team as soon as possible and am working very hard to do that. But obviously, we have a very good set of players, very strong depth. It will be quite tough getting back in, but I don't think it is beyond me.
"Possibly consistency wasn't as I'd like it to be and I do set my standards very high," Jordan said of his exclusion. "If I look at it I can say that my consistency at that particular moment wasn't to the level I wanted it to be but that's not to discourage or dishearten me. I do still have opportunities and I hope to push my case to make it back."
Jordan will hope he displays more such impressive efforts, the way he did in Kanpur, in the remaining two T20s of the series and stakes a claim for the Champions Trophy in June at home. After the West Indies tour, England are scheduled to play two ODIs against Ireland and three against South Africa - all in May at home. Jordan said he was looking at every game he would play from now as a "chance to impress and a chance to stake a claim".

Vishal Dikshit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo