Hometown hero Jordan takes England to 'crunch time' in Barbados

When Chris Jordan left his post-match news conference after England's dominant victory over the United States, he did so with his hand grasped tightly around a small cardboard box.

Inside was the match ball he had used to take England's first hat-trick in T20 internationals an hour or so earlier.

"It definitely feels really good and I'll cherish the moment,” Jordan said to BBC Sport.

For Jordan this hat-trick was particularly special.

The 35-year-old was born in Barbados. He started playing cricket on the island and lived here until he moved to London as a teenager to pursue a sporting scholarship.

The Kensington Oval is the ground where he first watched a live international. As a child he gave throw downs to West Indies legend Brian Lara on the outfield.

"That's when I first fell in love with the game," Jordan said.

Jordan grew up idolising Lara and the other West Indies greats of the era but this was his moment at the famous old ground.

He bowled Ali Khan with a delivery that sent off stump cartwheeling, trapped Nosthush Kenjige lbw before Saurabh Netravalkar was knocked over as he backed away towards the stands where Jordan used to sit, such was the ferocity.

It came with his family watching on in the ground.

"My family actually doesn't get to travel the world and watch me play a lot of international cricket," Jordan said.

"So to do it in front of them definitely is right up there [among the best moments of his career]."

The list of Jordans in the stands was not small. There was mum, dad, sister, brother-in-law and nephew to name a few.

"My nephew's the one because he called me this morning and said ‘make sure you take three wickets today if you're playing'," Jordan said.

"I looked up and he's jumping up. One day he might be out there trying to do the same thing. You end up trying to be a role model."

This World Cup has been a homecoming for both Jordan and team-mate Jofra Archer, who was also born in Barbados but now represents England.

Some might have expected to hear resentment from the locals, disappointment at their decision to move away from West Indies and instead play for England - but instead they have been cheered at every turn.

At England's first match of the tournament there were groups of schoolchildren in the stands from their former schools.

The roar when Archer's name was read out was the loudest of the day. Afterwards both bowlers were invited to the prime minister's box.

In Barbados if you have played cricket you have probably done so with a famous international.

Jordan went to Combermere School, where, as well as being a classmate of Rihanna, West Indies internationals Kraigg and Carlos Brathwaite, Roston Chase and Shane Dowrich all followed within a year of each other.

Another contemporary of Jordan and Archer's was Aaron Jones, who captained the United States on Sunday. Jones was born in New York to Bajan parents, but grew up on the streets and beaches of Barbados.

"Sometimes we'd go out on our lunch break and play cricket in the corridor," Jordan said.

"You never thought you'd be on the world stage playing cricket together and against each other. It is really special."

Those who played with Jordan say he was the least able of his school team but he has since developed into one of England's most dependable men.

His England career looked to be over when he was left out of the squad to tour the Caribbean last December but instead he went to Australia for the Big Bash and developed his lower-order six-hitting.

It was Jordan's batting which was highlighted by England's managing director of men's cricket Rob Key when announcing the squad, rather than his bowling.

Jordan's standing as one of the world's best fielders and one of the calmest heads has never been in doubt. It is no coincidence captain Jos Buttler positions Jordan close by when Archer and England's less experienced bowlers are in a spell.

But it is also typical of the man that he was keen to play down his hat-trick.

Jordan has always been the ultimate team player, ready to jump at the chance to make an appearance in the field as a substitute or lift spirits with a smile.

When Archer made his Test debut at Lord's during the 2019 Ashes, he asked for Jordan to be allowed to come and present his cap.

Jordan's talk of being a role model is significant, coming from one of England's few black cricketers.

"I thought the team performance was really solid today," he said when asked to reflect on his day.

And that performance has set England up for a semi-final in either Guyana or Trinidad.

Their chances remain difficult to predict, not only because their opponent – one of India, Australia, Afghanistan or Bangladesh – is still to be determined.

On one hand they have since found form with dominant wins over Oman, Namibia, West Indies and USA.

On the other they have lost two of their three matches at this World Cup against Test-playing nations, in Australia and South Africa.

"Tournament cricket is one of ups and downs," Jordan said.

"In the last few games the boys have really been locked in. We're coming down to crunch time so long may that continue."

England are aiming to be back at the Kensington Oval on Saturday for this tournament's final match.

Jordan will be hoping to depart with another memento in his hand – the T20 World Cup trophy to go with his match ball.