After weeks gestating in a cocoon of management speak, widespread mockery and social media spats, English cricket’s new era has tentatively emerged from its chrysalis.
Following the winter’s great purge, the new regime required some new heroes and it needed them badly. Fortunately for the ECB hierarchy, the signs at The Oval last night suggest they may have found some.
Of course it would be foolish to rush to conclusions after just one rain-affected game, but, playing an ODI on home soil for the first time since their winter of discontent, Alastair Cook’s side showed some promise.
Gary Ballance, the Zimbabwean born left-hander, may have just been around to see the brutal last days as Andy Flower’s Rome fell around him, but he underlined in this match that he is very much a man for the new age of English cricket.
Batting in the number three spot vacated by Jonathan Trott, he looked equally comfortable playing safely, as England looked to build early on, as he did taking the game to Sri Lanka – including a thumping six pulled gloriously over deep square-leg.
Harry Gurney, who stood out in Tuesday’s T20, also impressed again here and his left arm bowling provides much-needed variety to an attack that had become all-too predictable.
However the obvious star of the show and the man who will have delighted both fans and team management alike was Chris Jordan.
Returning to the ground where he once played his cricket, Jordan’s all-round performance helped inspire the feeling that talk of a new era could be more than just hot air.
When he came to the crease, with just three and a half overs remaining, England were 193/6 and looked once again as if they had failed to make the most of their innings.
As it was they finished on a more than respectable 247/6, with Jordan smiting 38 runs from just 13 balls in an unbroken partnership of 54 with Jos Buttler.
Jordan came out swinging from ball one and was perhaps a little fortunate not to lose his wicket, missing with a couple of ugly early heaves.
Then however he seemed to remember he could bat and switched to playing more conventional shots, demonstrating a very useful ability to strike the ball cleanly down the ground with several superb lofted drives.
Batting though is not primarily what Jordan was picked for and fortunately for England he helped complete a memorable day’s cricket for him by turning in an excellent display with the ball.
He first removed the settled Dilshan, caught well by Gurney down at third man and then struck twice more later on to remove Chandimal and Kulasekara and leave Sri Lanka’s chase in tatters.
Overall it was the sort of performance that would seem to immediately make him an obvious contender for England’s first Test of the summer.
While of course there are still four more games to go in this series and plenty of time for England’s glorious new empire to falter, at least we are closer to knowing some of its new soldiers.Reuse content