Perhaps England need to bolster their World Cup squad with an exciting pace bowler who was born in Barbados – but his name is Chris Jordan. A mesmerising spell of four wickets in eight balls from Jordan broke the West Indies’s batting – and Twenty20 history, as the West Indies subsided to 45 all out, the lowest ever score recorded by a Test nation in T20 international cricket. It meant that England sealed the T20 international series in the Caribbean, with an astounding 137-run victory, their biggest ever victory in the format.
This was an astonishing display of ruthlessness from England, who transformed the turmoil of their early innings – they had been 32 for four in the sixth over – into an evisceration of the reigning world champions. When Sam Billings – who had made a puckish 87 earlier – sealed the West Indies’s fate with a sharp catch, running back from extra cover, it summed up a fielding performance in which England had set new standards for themselves. Only one international side – the Netherlands against Sri Lanka in 2014 – had ever scored fewer runs in a T20 innings.
We have learned that a perfect England batting performance in limited overs cricket can see them vault over 400, as they have done on four occasions since 2015. Now we know that a perfect England bowling performance – one showcasing the variety of their attack, their ability to use the new ball, the vim of their fielding and Adil Rashid’s penchant for hoovering up the tail – can bowl out a side for a puny score.
Since 2016, England have considered Jordan not quite suited to one-day international cricket, selecting him in T20 cricket alone. Yet this was a spell that evoked high-quality Test bowling. In consecutive overs, Jordan had Darren Bravo edging behind, Jason Holder lbw first ball to a delivery that nipped back in, Nicholas Pooran jagging away and Fabian Allen picking out a slip placed there for the very shot. It was outstanding bowling, a cocktail of pace, late movement and impeccable length.
Jordan has stated his hope that the door is not yet shut on his World Cup hopes. In the first two T20s he has been comfortably England’s best bowler, outbowling three team-mates who are poised to be part of England’s World Cup squad. Add in his effervescent fielding and aptitude for late innings hitting, and Jordan’s case suddenly looks hard to ignore.
The rest of England’s attack were exemplary to build on Jordan’s phenomenal spell. Indeed, David Willey had already dismissed Chris Gayle – flicking a dull delivery to mid-on – and Shai Hope – miscuing a slower ball – in the third over of the innings.
England’s total of 182 for six had been underpinned by Billings’s highest ever international score. After four years spent largely on the periphery of international cricket, here the idea of Billings – as a dynamic, inventive 360-degree batsman in the mould of Jos Buttler – matched the reality.
In England’s last over Billings waltzed outside leg stump and hit a reverse pull shot past short third man for four, followed by a lofted six parried over the fence by long on and an imperious pull shot through square leg: three shots that encapsulated the possibilities of his batsmanship. This was only Billings’s fourth international half-century of a career that began just after the last World Cup.
Just as for Billings, this innings had a wider significance for Joe Root. His 55, in a match-changing stand of 82 in 10.3 overs after England lost four wickets in the Powerplay, was his first T20 international half-century for three years, going back to the World Cup final between these two teams.
The upshot of it all is that England now have the chance, in Sunday’s third and final T20 at the same venue, to return home from the Caribbean with a series whitewash against the reigning world champions.