England’s door opened where Windies’ never did
With more foresight from regional selectors, talented Barbadian-born England international Chris Jordan could still be in contention for possible West Indies senior team selection.
That’s the opinion of former chief national selector and Barbados leg-spinner George Linton, who first spotted Jordan’s potential as an
eight-year-old playing cricket under the auspices of the National Sports Council. Years later Linton selected the former Queen’s College and Combermere student to play for the Barbados senior squad in the regional four-day cricket tournament
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Linton, a highly knowledgeable and respected cricket official, said Jordan was a “natural talent” who returned home from playing English county cricket with the intention of impressing the selectors sufficiently to make the Barbados team. His goals also included making the necessary impact to grab the attention of the regional selectors.
“Chris wanted to get an opportunity to represent the West Indies. That was his goal,” he said.
Jordan returned to the Caribbean in 2012 and although he bowled steadily and looked the part he only managed 13 wickets in five games.
“Sometimes selectors should not only look in the runs and wickets columns, although they are very important. You have to also pay close attention to the individual and be able to spot real talent. Chris always looked like a cricketer. He can do everything on the cricket field; bowl, bat, field anywhere. As a fast bowler he is terrific in the slips. Here was a chap that just wanted opportunities,” Linton said.
The former Spartan Cricket Club spin terror said there were some on the board of the Barbados Cricket Association who said he had only selected Jordan because he was an English county professional. But he suggested that he picked him because he saw something special in him.
The following year, 2013, Jordan’s ability really shone through and vindicated Linton’s faith in him. In three first-class games he snared 16 wickets at an average of 15.18, including a seven-wicket innings haul against the Combined Campuses & Colleges at the 3Ws Oval. He also picked up a further eight wickets in three regional 50-over matches. Though Jordan batted primarily in the lower half of the Barbados line-up, he always demonstrated that he was no rabbit with the bat.
Linton said he believed that if Jordan had got at least a selection to the West Indies “A” Team, he might have stuck around and continued his quest to make the regional senior side.
“An ‘A’ team pick would have told him that the fellows [West Indies selectors] were looking at him, it would have given him some encouragement,” Linton said.
Jordan was first spotted as a teenager by former England international Bill Athey who assisted him in securing a cricket scholarship to Dulwich College. He was later snapped up by Surrey County at age 18 but a combination of factors at the club, including a spate of injuries, meant he didn’t fulfill his true potential there and he subsequently moved to Sussex last year where his career took off. Jordan took six for 48 on debut against Yorkshire and was among the leading wicket-takers in the county championship, passing 50 wickets for the first time. The 25-year-old has so far taken 161 first-class wickets at 32.26 each with six five-wicket hauls. He has also scored six half-centuries with a career-best 92.
Six years ago during a visit to The Oval in England, former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd saw Jordan playing for Surrey and learnt that he was Barbadian-born.
Astonished that he had slipped the attention of officials in the Caribbean, Lloyd immediately asked Surrey captain Mark Butcher for Jordan’s number. Butcher referred Lloyd to his father, Alan Butcher, the Surrey coach. According to Daily Mail reports, Butcher Sr strategically told Lloyd he had no number for Jordan. Lloyd subsequently contacted Butcher once more about Jordan who told him he [Loyd] was too late since they had contracted him as a non-overseas player on the basis of his British passport.
Quizzed some time ago as to his preference for an international career, Jordan responded:”Ideally, I would love to play in the West Indies but at the moment my life is in England. If the chance came to play for England I can’t say I’d turn it down but I have a lot of time to think about that and I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. It was my dream to play for the West Indies as a kid but I never thought this chance would come up and, as you go along, you sometimes have to go where life takes you.”
The six-foot-two fast-bowler who touched speeds in excess of 90mph on his international debut for England against Australia at Southampton last September, has so far played seven One-Day Internationals and two Twenty20 Internationals for his adopted country for which he was eligible through his British grandmother. He returned to his Kensington Oval “home” ground last week against the West Indies where in his debut Twenty20 International he took the Man Of The Match award after a swashbuckling unbeaten nine-ball 27, three wickets and a spectacular catch on the boundary.
Linton said though he would have loved to have seen Jordan in West Indies’ maroon, he believed Jordan had made the right decision in linking his future to England.
“He really had little choice. England’s selectors spotted his talent and wanted him. I think he has made the right decision, especially in terms of being an international cricketer and securing a future for himself. I wish him well in all he does in the future,” Linton said.
Jordan is the fourth Barbadian to have been chosen to wear England colours. The Brighton, St George-born Gladstone Small migrated to England just after his 14th birthday and later played 17 Tests and 53 ODIs between 1986 and 1992 for his adopted country. Ricardo Ellcock was also chosen for the 1989/90 tour of the Caribbean but never played a game after breaking down with a stress fracture of the back. Roland Butcher, who also moved to England at age 14, also played three Tests and three ODIs between 1980 and 1981. Butcher, like Jordan, also played first class cricket for Barbados.