World’s most valuable fielder tag and six hitting secure Chris Jordan’s England T20 spot

England's Chris Jordan leaps into the air as he holds the trophy after victory in the 2022 Twenty20 World Cup final against Pakistan at Melbourne Cricket Ground
Chris Jordan leads the celebrations after England win the T20 World Cup in Melbourne in 2022 - Getty Images/William West

When rounding out a World Cup squad, few cricketers have greater appeal than Chris Jordan. Over 11 years with England, Jordan has been one of the squad’s most-valued members – uncomplainingly embracing whatever has been asked of him, his enthusiasm undiminished by time spent outside of the first XI.

He is also one of the world’s best fielders. Given a high-octane knockout match, and an injury to a member of the playing 11, there is no one who England would rather summon than Jordan. Stationed at long-on, a trademark Jordan leap to pluck the ball out of the air could conceivably turn a six into a wicket: a dramatic swing in a format with such small margins as T20.

The importance of fielding is sometimes overstated in T20, but Jordan is an exception. Some T20 analysts long considered him the most valuable fielder in the world. Jordan’s fielding, and potential use as a substitute fielder, would make him a tantalising pick even for a side that had little inclination of selecting him in their full-strength team.

England's Chris Jordan catches India's KL Rahul during a IT20 match in Bristol on July 8, 2018
Jordan produces a trademark flying catch to dismiss India's KL Rahul during a T20 match in Bristol in 2018 - PA/Mark Kerton

Yet, while his fielding significantly strengthens Jordan’s appeal, he is not just a specialist fielder. While each squad in Euro 2026 comprises 26 players to fit into 11 spots, squads at the T20 World Cup are only 15. Should England reach the final, they will play nine matches. History shows that it is outlandish to think that England’s other three main fast bowling options – Jofra Archer, Reece Topley and Mark Wood – will be able to play all those games.

However, the notion that Jordan is dependent upon other bowlers being injured or rested to make England’s final 11 might well be misplaced. Jordan has a very strong chance of making England’s first-choice team, which owes largely to his least-discussed skill: his batting.

Picking Archer, Topley and Wood, together with leg-spinner Adil Rashid, would leave England with an overly long tail. England have identified the need to bat deep in the Caribbean. Doing so does not just mean that they have the capacity to recover from losing early wickets; equally importantly, the knowledge of the batting strength to come liberates the top-order to play more aggressively. Such thinking explains why Jamie Overton, who has become the most destructive finisher in the country, was in strong contention to be picked until suffering a suspected stress fracture.

While his batting is not quite as explosive, Jordan offers similar qualities. For Southern Brave in a Hundred game last year, Jordan hit an unbeaten 70 off 32 balls with seven sixes to lift his side from 76-8 to a match-winning 147. In December, he hit a 17-ball 50 for Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash.

Such innings encapsulate how, aged 35, Jordan’s batting has developed, especially against pace at the end of an innings. Since the start of 2023, Jordan averages 26.5, with a strike rate of 152, in all T20 cricket. He has also developed his ability to clear the ropes: Jordan has hit 42 of his 366 deliveries in this time, more than one in every nine, for six. It is an approach that is a good fit for the Caribbean: on small grounds and often slow pitches, it is not uncommon for matches to feature more sixes than fours.

“His batting seems to have kicked on,” England managing director Rob Key said of Jordan. “Power as well is the big thing out in the Caribbean.”

Only by picking Jordan in their XI can England field three front-line quick bowlers and a belligerent hitter at No 8.

Chris Jordan of England plays a shot during the T20 match against West Indies at Kensington Oval on January 23, 2022 in Barbados
Jordan's improved ability to hit beyond the boundary makes him an appealing lower-order option in the Caribbean - Getty Images/Gareth Copley

Just as Jordan’s batting helps to provide balance, so does his bowling. Assembling a T20 bowling attack is not an exercise in simply picking a side’s ‘best’ bowlers; it is an exercise in picking the best attack, with complementary skills. This was the appeal of Jordan, even if his recent record suggests a T20 bowler who is not quite of the very highest rank.

Topley is almost certain to take the new ball; Archer is ideally-suited to bowling a few overs in the powerplay too. England might well bowl spin in the powerplay, a tactic that West Indies have often deployed successfully. Wood’s greatest asset is taking wickets in the middle of the innings. Sam Curran, who should almost be viewed as a batting all-rounder, is adept at swinging the new ball.

Selecting their fourth seamer, then, England’s need was for bowlers comfortable bowling at the death. With his combination of yorkers, changes of pace, cutters and slower ball bouncers, Jordan has made a career out of bowling in the final overs of an innings: a crucial advantage over Chris Woakes, who thrives with the new ball, and who missed out to Jordan for June’s tournament in the Caribbean and USA.

The 2022 T20 World Cup also showed Jordan’s ease stepping into the side after a long period without playing. This also gives him an edge over Woakes, who struggled at the start of both the last T20 World Cup and ODI World Cup before improving later.

In Adelaide before the T20 World Cup semi-final against India, Wood was injured. Jordan had not played any game of cricket for 29 days and yet seamlessly stepped up: he took a wicket with his fifth ball. On a surface renowned for batting gluttony, Jordan returned figures of 3-43. At a casual glance, these sound expensive, but Jordan bowled the 16th, 18th and 20th overs. His efforts in keeping India down to 168 were highlighted as England waltzed to their target by 10 wickets.

Chris Jordan, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes of England celebrate victory following the T20 World Cup Semi Final against India at Adelaide Oval on November 10, 2022
Jordan celebrates with Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes after his key role in the semi-final victory over India at Adelaide in 2022

In the final against Pakistan, Jordan showed his nous and adaptability. Normally renowned for his yorkers, Jordan did not attempt a single one at Melbourne. Instead, he bowled into the pitch more to attempt to get the batsmen to hit to the longer square boundaries. Jordan yielded just 10 runs from the 18th and 20th overs of the innings, and took 2-27 to set-up England’s successful run chase.

These two performances showcased Jordan’s T20 pedigree. His 355 matches, which include 88 England caps, are more than any other front-line fast bowler in T20 history. Like Archer, Jordan will dream of ending the tournament by returning to Barbados, the land of his birth, for the T20 World Cup final.

Jordan need only think of the last T20 World Cup for inspiration: from being considered a peripheral squad player, he ended the tournament as one of England’s men of the final. Now, he can plot an encore.

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