Sometimes the penultimate over gets overlooked. And sometimes the scorecard lies. Look at Chris Jordan’s figures at the Rose Bowl on Friday night: 14 not out with the bat and 3-0-23-0 with the ball, and yet he could easily have been made the man of the match, though England were grateful for Dawid Malan’s 66 given the paucity of contributions from everyone else except Jos Buttler – and Jordan.
It was the best kind of victory since the first T20 international against Australia appeared to be lost and it provided confirmation that this England team can never be written off, whatever their limitations or the colour of the ball. Australia needed 39 runs from 35 balls with nine wickets in hand just before the dismissal of Steve Smith. Yet they fell two runs short.
Jordan’s third – and last over – was crucial. At the time Australia required 19 runs to win from 12 balls. Opting to hit the wicket hard and bowling straight, rather than aiming for his trademark yorkers, he restricted them to four runs in that over and there was the bonus of the run-out of Ashton Agar by Jordan from the final delivery. Then Tom Curran stayed wonderfully calm throughout the last six balls, especially since there was the added pressure of England suddenly becoming the favourites.
Jordan was quick to praise the entire bowling attack: he was more comfortable speaking up for the union rather than dwelling upon that decisive 19th over. “Over the last few years, especially, a lot of the talk has been about the batting lineup and how phenomenal it is. So it was nice that last night the bowlers bailed the batters out.
“I thought they did a brilliant job: Jofra [Archer] and Woody [Mark Wood] really hit their straps and got us back into the game, bowling with some extreme pace through the middle; Rash the Wizard [Adil Rashid], he did his thing, getting the big wickets of Smith and [Glenn] Maxwell in the same over, which I thought was a big turning point. Once they’re back in the dressing room all of a sudden you feel like you have a sniff. TC’s [Curran’s] final over was brilliant.”
Jordan brings a lot to this side, including being a bit of a mentor for his Sussex teammate Archer. They are close friends with shared experiences and appropriately it was Jordan who presented Archer with his first Test cap last summer. On Friday night the roles were reversed as Archer said a few words to the huddle before the game marking Jordan’s 50th appearance for England in T20 cricket.
“It was a nice surprise,” said Jordan. “Jofra said some very kind words, he just talked about how I am around the group, what I bring to the table, how I have encouraged him. It was quite short but very spot on and one of those things that will last in my memory. Nice of him to return the favour.
“One of the things I told him when I gave him his cap was that at the minute he was on a high but he will experience some low periods. But because of the character he has, he will always find a way of coming through. But the biggest thing was the smile he had on his face for the entire time and that was enough for me. Hopefully, we’ll play a few more together.”
So far they have played together for England only twice – in Archer’s two T20 appearances – but expect them to be alongside one another again on Sunday afternoon when the second of the three T20 internationals will be on BBC TV as well as Sky.
“It’s brilliant,” said Jordan. “It’s a different audience – there might be people who haven’t watched cricket before or who haven’t had Sky for a while. The more people we can get watching the game, the better it is for our cricket. There have been some phenomenal games and last night was a thriller. Why not let the whole world see it?”