Match Analysis

Chris Jordan, England's forgotten World Cup option?

At the age of 30, it's easy to overlook allrounder's claims. But he offers a complete package to the selectors

Chris Jordan takes an athletic caught and bowled to dismiss Darren Bravo, West Indies v England, 1st T20I, St Lucia, March 5, 2019

Chris Jordan takes an athletic caught and bowled to dismiss Darren Bravo  •  AFP

While all the talk in recent months has been of Jofra Archer's chances of forcing his way into England's World Cup squad, there is another Barbadian-born bowler who might be worth further consideration.
Chris Jordan has not played an ODI since September 2016. He does not bowl quite as fast as Archer and, aged 30, does not possess quite the same amount of long-term promise as his 23-year-old protégé.
But, as he showed in the first T20I of the series against West Indies, Jordan remains a highly skilled and experienced cricketer who might just be at the peak of his powers.
His key contribution in this game was taking the wicket of Chris Gayle. That was a feat that proved beyond his England colleagues for much of the ODI series (to be fair, they dismissed him in every innings but not before he had thrashed them into the stands a few times) and the manner in which he did so - a well-directed yorker just wide of off stump - suggested he had some skills which could prove valuable. Remember, England's seamers appeared either reluctant or unable to bowl the delivery on demand in the ODI series so Jordan's demonstration may have been timely. He had also hurried Gayle with a well-directed bouncer.
But the wicket of Darren Bravo was just as impressive. So bamboozled by Jordan's well-disguised slower delivery was Bravo, an experienced player, that he could only spoon the ball into the air. Jordan, demonstrating another part of his game that might give him an edge, made good ground and clung on to a one-handed diving catch. It was a reminder, if any were required, that he may be the best fielder available to England. Having such a man in the squad - even if they don't make the XI - must be useful.
In all, he delivered 10 dot balls from the 18 he bowled. He was hit for two boundaries; both from the hugely talented Nicholas Pooran.
It's perhaps worth comparing Jordan's performance with some of his apparent rivals for a spot in the World Cup squad. David Willey used the new ball well here, generating just enough movement to prevent Gayle from sizing him up, and came in at No. 7 to see England over the line. He didn't bowl after the third over of the innings, though, and by then Gayle had struck two of his final four deliveries for six.
What can we read into that? Perhaps that, unless Willey takes one of the new balls, he is of limited use to the ODI side. He rarely bowls at the death and only twice in his last 25 ODIs has he delivered his full allocation of 10 overs. One of those occasions was in the defeat to Scotland in which he conceded 72.
And while his left-arm variation would be welcome, it seems unlikely he will dispossess the likes of Chris Woakes, Mark Wood and, perhaps, Archer in the tussle for that new-ball role.
Might it be relevant that Jordan didn't bowl at the death? Could it be that he was instead being given an opportunity to show what he could do in the middle-over period (he bowled the fourth, sixth and 14th overs) in which Liam Plunkett has been so proficient in recent years?
It's possible. Plunkett does seem to be in gentle decline and was England's most expensive bowler here. It would make sense if England were at least mindful of the need to consider alternatives, though it would be a surprise if he didn't make the squad.
It seems more likely that England simply had more trust in Tom Curran than Jordan at the death and view him as the more likely part of their World Cup plans. Eoin Morgan, the captain, later explained that, with Pooran recently dismissed, Curran's slower balls to a pair of new batsmen were simply the better option available to him.
Curran ended up with four wickets, too, as reward for his control and variations. Plunkett and Jordan do not offer quite the same package of skills, either, with Plunkett's height and back-of-a-length cutters having a proven track record. Jordan's variations are impressive, though, and he probably could offer England options in all portions of an ODI innings.
We probably have to be careful about making assumptions regarding ODI suitability from a T20 match. Jordan bowled only three overs, after all. But some of the skills - the control, the variation, the ability to perform under pressure - are clearly transferable.
It's certainly not a simple case of Archer and Jordan competing for one place in the World Cup squad. There could, in theory, be room for both or indeed, neither. As things stand, England are considering the likes of Liam Dawson and Joe Denly as spin-bowling all-rounder.
But is there really any need for a third spinner in a 15-man squad? With Joe Root capable of supporting Adil Rashid - who bowled beautifully here and would not have conceded a boundary had Curran not made a fearful hash on the fence - and Moeen Ali in the spin bowling positions and Alex Hales having the batting reserve spot all sewn up, it is a position that could instead go to another seamer. Jordan remains an outsider for that spot, but he didn't do himself any harm here.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo