Chris Jordan could be forgiven for thinking he must prove himself in the next few days against South Africa to secure his place at the T20 World Cup but the England seamer has an alternative perspective.
Jordan has missed only one of England’s 28 sprint-format matches since the last T20 World Cup in 2016 and he is their second highest wicket-taker of all time with 56 at a fine average of 23.71. England have a number of fast-bowling options for the ongoing series against the Proteas, while the injured pair Jofra Archer and Pat Brown will doubtless come into the reckoning as the year progresses.
However, Jordan believes the culture fostered by England means he does not feel as if he is on trial for his spot as they look to complete an unprecedented limited-overs World Cup double in Australia this year. “One of the hallmarks of this team is that whoever is playing at the time is trying to keep their standards as high as possible,” he said.
“I don’t think that the environment has been created in such a way to feel that pressure for a playing spot. You have that in any team anyway, but I don’t think that is the focus at all. We have a strong squad here and any XI we put out on any given day is strong enough to beat any team so those are the things that we are trying to focus on as much as possible.”
The tourists made a false start under the East London floodlights after failing to chase down seven in the final over as Lungi Ngidi’s death bowling helped South Africa win the first game of the three-match series. England came unstuck chasing what looked a no better than par 178 at Buffalo Park, where Jordan took two wickets in two balls, but the 31-year-old would still back the batsmen as they look to respond at Durban on Friday.
“With our batting lineup I am confident of chasing pretty much any score,” Jordan said. “Seven off seven should be do-able. But credit to Ngidi, he bowled a good last over. Potentially we could have been a little bit smarter at times but T20 cricket is one of those things. You try to take the positive option more often than not and some days it goes your way, some days it doesn’t.”
England may select the same XI at Kingsmead in an attempt at continuity but Dawid Malan has a compelling case for a recall, boasting an average of 57.25 with a strike rate of 156.31 after nine T20 internationals. Malan amassed only England’s second T20 century in his last game against New Zealand at Napier last November and could come in for Joe Denly, who holed out for three as Eoin Morgan’s side lost their way on Wednesday.
Jordan, though, feels England have an extraordinary batting unit, which he finds beneficial to improving him as a bowler. “I honestly find our training sessions so beneficial because I am bowling at some of the best in the world,” he said. “Literally, if you miss your mark, you go out the park. Equally, we have got conversations about what can work and how we can improve slower balls. A big strength of this team is our communication and our will to try to help each other get better.”