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Jordan Cox: ‘I thought I’d slipped under the radar – next thing I know I’m on a tour’

England will arrive in Karachi early Thursday morning for their first tour of Pakistan in 17 years, a historic visit that will see them play seven T20 internationals while under presidential security conditions.

The length of their absence is illustrated by the fact that their 20-man squad had made a single professional appearance between them when England played their last international in this country in 2005: Moeen Ali, who will captain the early stages of this match. tour, playing for Warwickshire against Cambridge UCCE as a 17-year-old.

The youngest member of the tour group, Jordan Cox, had just celebrated his fifth birthday when a team from England last landed in Pakistan. Cox is one of five uncapped players on the squad and one of six who will not travel to Australia for the T20 World Cup. Cox will become the first player born in the 2000s to represent the English men at some point during the series.

His call came as a surprise to him despite two impressive seasons in the T20 Blast for Kent and one in the Hundred for Oval Invincibles. “I haven’t really been picked up in any competition,” he told ESPNcricinfo before he left for Pakistan, “so I thought I should slip under the radar, just do my thing without anyone really noticing. Then, before I know it, I’m being picked on a tour.”

His phone rang at 8.20am the morning after Invincibles were knocked out of the Hundred and, not recognizing Matthew Mott’s number, he turned in bed in his Manchester hotel room and ignored it. A follow-up message led him to ask his teammate Jack Haynes where he knew Mott’s name from over breakfast — “I’m the worst person in the world with names” — and his pancakes went cold as he tried to take in the news.

“I still can’t really believe it now,” he said. “Of course it is an absolute honor to represent your country, especially at the age of 21. When I was a child I really wanted to play cricket, but I didn’t realize this [an England call-up] would happen as soon as it does now. It must mean that they think I’m a good player, which means a lot.”

Cox made a name for himself at senior level with a double hundred for Kent in the 2020 Bob Willis Trophy – he was bizarrely forced to self-isolate immediately after taking pictures with some fans – but while his first-class record (three hundred, and an average of 37.82) is solid, it is in the shorter formats he has played.

He played a key role in Kent’s 2021 Blast title, coming in at number 5 and balancing groundbreaking with strike rotation, before impressing at number 3 this season and adjusting to a number of different positions in the Invincibles batting lineup. in the Hundred.

“They’ve seen me hit all over the order. It’s not just about sixes for me: I start my innings by being busy, getting ones and twos by hitting the bigger pockets and playing strong shots for four, and then by kicking from there. Hopefully I can fill the gap they needed.”

Cox grew up as a wicketkeeper – he is one of four on this trip, along with Jos Buttler, Phil Salt and Ben Duckett – but has quickly built a reputation as one of the best frontier riders in county cricket, largely due to his role in a stunning relay catch with Matt Milnes in the Blast Finals last season.

“When I first joined the Kent staff, it was difficult for me to do a lot of housework: we had [Sam] billing, [Ollie] robinson, [Adam] Rouse and myself, so I asked myself ‘how do I get on our white-ball team and make a difference?’ and I thought it was probably by becoming a gunfielder. I worked really hard on it and it paid off.

“It’s not as good as I want it to be yet. Heino Kuhn, who left Kent a few years ago, was the best I’ve seen and all the guys said he was comfortably the best in the world. Learning from him – watching batters and figuring out where they’re going to hit the ball before they do – definitely helped me a lot.”

Cox is used to spending time in hotels on the subcontinent after touring India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh with England under 19s, but Karachi will still be a long way from Canterbury.

“I’m really looking forward to getting started. Hopefully I’ll get a chance and try to grab it with both hands.”

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98

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