I'll say at the outset of this post that no conclusions can be drawn on the basis of one innings, for either a batsman or a bowler. But the cases of Chris Jordan and Tom Lancefield raise some interesting questions today owing to their impressive performances for their respective clubs.
Jordan returned figures of 6-48 on his Sussex debut and by all accounts bowled with no little skill (and pace). In five seasons with Surrey he had failed to register a single five wicket haul. He skips town to our South Coast rivals and lo and behold, he's bagged one in his first game. When he departed the club at the end of 2012 I came to the conclusion that a change of scenery might just do the trick for him. Based on today's efforts, it certainly has.
The talented allrounder never wanted for chances at Surrey. He played 40 first class matches for the club but in addition to no five-fors he also never scored a hundred, in fact only registering four fifties in his time. A talent unfulfilled or not much of a talent at all? The general consensus, not least from Mark Ramprakash who tweeted his thoughts here is the former, so what went wrong?
He certainly had his fair share of injury, missing the entirety of 2010 with a back injury and there were others besides which won't have helped his progression one iota. Perhaps he wasn't given the guidance and coaching he needed, or maybe he didn't work hard enough at his own game? You might get different versions of the same story from player and club. Rory Hamilton-Brown talked of Sussex being a more "caring" club - maybe that is how Jordan needs to feel about his surroundings as well. If he continues down the road he started on today with Sussex the talk of an England career will be revived before long. If his talent with bat and ball begins to be fulfilled it will begin to look like a very poor decision by Surrey to let him leave the club.
Tom Lancefield's is a different case entirely. Today he scored a match winning hundred for Gloucestershire's Second XI against Surrey. "So what?" I hear you cry. Well a Second XI fixture it might've been, but the bowling attack, featuring Tremlett, Meaker, Lewis, Linley and Keedy was very definitely that of the first team.
In three seasons at Surrey he only played seven first class fixtures, all of them during the 2010 season and all of them doing the tricky job of opening the innings. Nonetheless he still managed to average 32 with a couple of fifties from 11 innings. Not great, but not a disgrace when you look at the record of Surrey opening batsmen in recent years.
Quite what he did wrong, and on what basis he was adjudged to have failed at Surrey, is a mystery. Of course we are blessed with some extraordinary batting talent at the club this season but there isn't a huge amount of depth to the squad in that respect. Whatever the process was in coming to the decision to jettison the 22 year old Lancefield, he's gone and I hope he secures himself a full time deal elsewhere. Today's hundred will have been all the sweeter for being against his old club.
Whether both Lancefield and Jordan make their old club really live to regret letting them depart remains to be seen. Every club says goodbye to players who go on to make it big (or nearly big) somewhere else and as I said above any definitive judgement is hugely premature, but it will be fascinating to see how the pair develop during the 2013 season. And in the absence of a Surrey match this week it does at least give me something to worry about.
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