Throughout this summer, the depth of England’s bowling attack behind star men James Anderson and Stuart Broad has been under almost constant scrutiny.
Liam Plunkett returned after a seven-year absence from the international game but then succumbed to injury, while Ashes hero Ben Stokes struggled to rediscover his form.
That left two men—the capable but somewhat inconsistent Chris Jordan and the inexperienced Chris Woakes—to provide something different for England in the field.
For much of this summer, they have been unconvincing and unable to make the kind of impact they wanted to, with lines and lengths varying a little too wildly.
That inconsistency was reflected in the pair’s bowling figures for the summer going into today’s final Test with India, as they averaged in excess of 50 runs per wicket.
|Chris Woakes and Chris Jordan's 2014 Before The Oval|
|Matches||Overs||Bowling Average||Strike Rate||Wickets||BBI|
However, they seemed to turn the corner on the first day of England’s Test at home to India at The Oval, as the tourists were shot out for just 148.
While Anderson and Broad were also consistent, Woakes and Jordan both seemed to step up their games and finally weighed in with some wickets of their own.
Of course, it did not help that India were especially poor with the bat and gifted wickets to the England seamers, having shown virtually no resistance.
However, the manner of their dismissals—they gained genuine edges to fielders behind the wicket and also took a caught-and-bowled chance apiece—surely is reason for optimism.
|Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes at The Oval vs. India|
Jordan’s caught-and-bowled in particular was a reminder of his sheer athleticism as a fielder, as he got down well to snag Ajinkya Rahane’s straight drive in his follow through.
Two players who are still finding their way in international cricket will still bowl the occasional bad ball, and they did so on occasion today.
Overall though, they were far more consistent in their lines and lengths as India floundered in the face of some potent fast bowling.
After the trauma of the winter, changes in selection were called for as England sought to rebuild around young players, and Jordan and Woakes appear to represent the new world order.
There appear to be few alternatives, with Plunkett injured and Durham seamer Graham Onions also out for around six weeks.
Beyond those two, Steven Finn appears to be the next in line after he was called into the squad for this game, but he is still searching for consistency after a very difficult winter.
That realistically leaves Jordan and Woakes, and perhaps both have prospered somewhat from consistent selection and being allowed the whole series to find their form.
In the distant past, they might have been replaced by others after a disappointing outing or two, but those days are thankfully long gone for England.
By no means does one good innings of bowling for Jordan and Woakes mean they are assured of their places in the team for years to come nor should it.
However, for both men to pick up three wickets and look relatively impressive in doing so, England fans and the selectors should take plenty of heart.
Both Woakes and Jordan have shown they are capable of being more than adequate backup for Anderson and Broad.
Now, they need to replicate their form in future games.