Tonight, he makes his second: older and wiser, having played in all corners of the globe in the 15 years since, and become England’s second-highest wicket-taker in men’s T20 internationals. He returns as captain of a powerhouse T20 side in front of a packed crowd at the Kia Oval against Glamorgan.
“It’s a great feeling to be back,” Jordan tells Standard Sport. “This is where it all started for me. I left in 2013, went to Sussex, and loved my time there. But the opportunity to come back was just too good. There have been a few cosmetic and structural changes [Jordan waves his hands towards the new stands at The Oval] while I’ve been away, but it’s the same place, and playing in front of a full house here is very special. It speaks for itself.”
Jordan is speaking a couple of days after arriving home from a dizzying winter, an example of the life of the itinerant T20 specialist. While he was part of the winning Southern Brave side in the Hundred, his last appearance for Sussex came on T20 Finals Day, when they lost against Kent in the semis, signalling the end of his domestic summer.
The next day, he left to complete in last year’s Covid-affected Indian Premier League with Punjab Kings. He then joined England for their T20 World Cup, which ended at the semi-final stage, after which he played three matches for Northern Warriors at the T10 in Abu Dhabi, then five for Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash. Next came England’s T20 series in Barbados (Jordan in action below), then five games for Karachi Kings in the Pakistan Super League. He had a short break in March, before his winter concluded with another IPL, this time for Chennai Super Kings, where he played four matches.
He arrived home at the weekend, and it should be no surprise that he is yet to find time to move from his Brighton flat that neighbours that of his great friend Jofra Archer and back to London.
A wandering winter, then, but not one he is especially happy with. Jordan has responsibility for England’s strong T20 team’s most troublesome department: death bowling. It was at that stage, indeed Jordan’s 17th over, that England came unstuck in the T20 World Cup semi-final to New Zealand in October.
Until then, Jordan had enjoyed a decent tournament, but at the clutch moment, New Zealand got the better of him, and his winter was disappointing from there. While Jordan cannot put his finger on one specific thing that went wrong, he does not hide his disappointment. “There was definitely a lot of learning that took place,” he says. “Definitely a few unexpected scenarios popped up, especially at the World Cup.
“It didn’t go according to plan. I’m not going to sit here and lie and say everything has been plain sailing. It has been challenging at times. I probably haven’t performed as well as I would have liked, especially in the scenarios that I have become known to be solid in, in the pressure moments at the death. There is no shying away from that. What I can promise is that I’m working hard every day to try to put that right, and obviously coming to Surrey, taking on the captaincy, I want to lead from the front.”
That is as close as a character like Jordan will come to admitting he has a “point to prove”. And turning 34 this year, he remains a key figure in England’s T20 team; partly because there are so many injured bowlers, but also because of his calm demeanour, extraordinary fielding and the backing of Eoin Morgan, who name-checked him as an England captaincy option this week. But with a new coach,
Matthew Mott, in place, spearheading Surrey’s attack would seem the perfect opportunity to issue a reminder of his quality.
Surrey are among the favourites for the Blast. Their squad for tonight’s game is packed with internationals, including Sunil Narine, while his former West Indies team-mate Kieron Pollard will be available for Tuesday’s fixture against Gloucestershire, and the rest of the tournament. They would appear to have the depth to overcome inevitable England call-ups over the next month, and Jordan says he has returned to a squad that is bouncing because it tops the County Championship table.
“There is a great feeling in the group,” he says. “And we have real competition for places and a good squad. But the Blast is stronger than ever and anyone can beat anyone. We will have to be at our very best.”