England’s run to the final of the World Twenty20 in India has caught everyone by surprise. Before the tournament, the general consensus was that this had come a year too early for a young England team, who had just been outclassed by a well organised and experienced South Africa side.
Chris Jordan’s qualities bowling at the end of the innings has also surprised many, but it has been crucial for England in the tournament so far.
Death bowling was one of England’s main concerns going into the World Twenty20, given the struggles that they have suffered in the department in the past. Other nations came into the tournament with well-oiled plans and bowlers who they could trust to do a job at the end of the innings, while for England, it was a mystery.
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Even in the opening games of the competition, England’s bowling came under fire. They were ripped apart by the West Indies’ Chris Gayle in their opening game and were taken to the cleaners by South Africa in Mumbai, only for the batsmen to get them out of trouble.
The bowlers really only came to the party in the game against Sri Lanka where Angelo Matthew’s fight back was halted by the excellent death bowling of Jordan, and all-rounder Ben Stokes. This was the deciding moment in England’s run to the semi-final and was the first time that England had put together a convincing all-round performance.
It was also the first time that England had found a bowling partnership for the death, something which worked again against New Zealand in the semi-final. With England facing the possibility of chasing a score upwards of 180, Jordan and Stokes delivered four overs that went for just 20 runs, restricting the Kiwis to just 153.
It comes as a compliment to Jordan’s character how well he has performed. A lot of questions were asked regarding his selection in the squad ahead of Chris Woakes, given his substandard international performances over the past 18 months.
A degree of credit must also go to the selectors who made the decision to move on from some of the older players, on to a more fearless and positive brand of cricketers. Gone are the days of test match specialists James Anderson and Stuart Broad playing the shorter forms of the game at international level, with players specialised to 20 over cricket coming in.
Jordan’s performances over the last couple of games have seen him discussed as possibly the best death bowler in the World Twenty20, especially with the absence of Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga. His ability to hit his yorkers at will is an invaluable skill at the end of an innings, and something which has made him a massive part of this England team.
England will face either the West Indies or India in the final in Kolkata on Sunday, and if he continues his fine form, Jordan could certainly lead his side to the trophy.