The ground is being prepared for a new Test fast bowler. Chris Jordan is doing much of the cultivation himself with a sequence of pugnacious displays that have comprised speed, wickets and bouncers with stares to follow. Speed and wickets are essential, of course, but nothing quite completes a fast bowler like a bouncer and a stare.
There are other reliable indicators to suggest that Jordan is now the primary candidate for the third fast bowler’s place in England’s side for the first Test of the summer against Sri Lanka, which starts at Lord’s in less than a fortnight. His praises are not so much being sung as proclaimed with deliberate timing from the rooftops with a megaphone.
After Jordan took 5 for 29 to destroy Sri Lanka in the third one-day international it was perhaps easy to do. But there was a distinct element to the testimonials which made it plain that the selectors would be fools to overlook him.
Alastair Cook, the England captain, who presumably has some input into proceedings, said: “What I like about him is his attitude – he hasn’t changed at all since the first day he walked into the changing room.
“I’m sure he knows he will have some tougher times, he’s had some already in Australia like we all did, but his attitude and hunger to keep working hard, even though he’s had some success, means he keeps his feet on the ground. And he’s desperate to do well, and he’s got a hell of a lot of talent as well.”
This encomium was complemented by the squad’s fast-bowling coach, David Saker, whose opinion will probably also not be excluded from consideration. “The way he prepares for every game, the way he looks after himself, he’s the ultimate professional,” Saker said.
“He’s fantastic to work with, he always wants to get better and he is getting better every game. He’s just been fantastic. He fields really well. He bowls well and when he gets the ball in his area he hits it out of the park, so he’s been a fantastic find for us. We’ve just got to keep moving with him.”
Jordan is fulfilling the potential and aspirations that were swiftly bestowed on him when he first arrived in England. Spotted on the playing fields of his native Barbados, he was given a scholarship to Dulwich College. From there, he was recruited by Surrey.
This is Jordan’s eighth season as a professional in England and any lingering discomfort about his not representing West Indies, who need every player they can recruit, is largely dispelled by his stated ease with the turn of events. Still, it would not do to think that scouts from these shores are pitching camps on Caribbean beaches to lure indigenous talent with public-school places and the prospect of sporting careers.
Word spread quickly about the new kid’s talent. An impressive start, however, was followed by a long period of injury, introspection and underachievement. Moving to Sussex last summer appeared to rejuvenate him.
He took 61 first-class wickets at 28.18 instead of 15 at 39.93, as he had the previous season. Something clicked at Hove that had eluded him at The Kia Oval. By the end of the summer, England picked him for their one-day side. He has now taken 19 wickets in 11 matches and, as both Cook and Saker indicated, he has flourished.
Jordan shares something with another newcomer, Ben Stokes. He is bristling with intent and ready to let the opposition know it. At Durham last Sunday, he was given a noisy welcome by the Sri Lankans when he went out to bat. The thought occurred that the tourists might have been put up to it by Chris Adams, their batting consultant on the trip, who was Surrey’s director of cricket in Jordan’s time at the county.
Perhaps Sri Lanka thought he was susceptible to a touch of chirping, perhaps they were still cross after Jordan carted their bowlers for 38 from 13 balls at The Oval four days earlier. Whatever it was, Jordan likes being in amongst it all. He does not appear to say much but he has a mean way of looking at batsmen.
Not of extreme pace, he is quick enough to hurry the most accomplished and is instinctively aware of the power of the bumper and the best place for it. England will not hesitate to prepare sporting pitches for their quicker bowlers this summer, with Sri Lanka to be followed by India. The selection of four fast bowlers will be animatedly discussed.
Recent companions of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad (who is still too short of fitness and games to be a shoo-in) have been Steve Finn, Chris Tremlett, Tim Bresnan, Chris Woakes and Boyd Rankin. A week on Sunday, when James Whitaker announces his first side as the new national selector, Jordan will be next on the bill.