Boyd thrilled as date for Ireland return is finalised
Boyd Rankin will be playing for Ireland next month after his county, Warwickshire, and Cricket Ireland came to an agreement that will make the Bready-born fast bowler available for all of the major international games.
His first will be the third match in Ireland's quest for Test status, the Intercontinental Cup clash against Papua New Guinea in Townsville, Australia on January 31-February 3 - that squad is due to be named this week - and then he will be the strike bowler at the World Twenty20 in India in March.
Ironically it was at the last but one World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, in 2012, that Rankin played his last game for Ireland before declaring for England to achieve his ambition of playing Test match cricket. He made it 16 months later but, after a nervous debut in the final match of the Ashes series in Australia, he was never called up again.
He becomes eligible to play for Ireland on January 18, two years after his last appearance for England, and, as revealed in the Belfast Telegraph on November 10, he admitted he was unlikely to get another chance for the Three Lions and wanted to play in his sixth global tournament for Ireland.
The 31-year-old said yesterday: "I'm delighted to be returning to Irish cricket, where I was born and learned the game. I'll always be grateful to England for the chance to play Test cricket, but with little opportunities in the last two years, I felt it was time to move on at this stage of my career.
"There's a real opportunity for Ireland to get Test status now, and that prospect was a real lure for me - I'd love to be a part of history. Before that of course there's a T20 World Cup in India - I've played in three before with Ireland and it'd be great to make it four.
"I've also very happy memories of both the 2007 and 2011 50-over World Cups in the West Indies and India, and I'd like to make it a hat-trick of appearances in 2019 in England."
Cricket Ireland Performance Director Richard Holdsworth also paid tribute to Rankin's county employers.
"Warwickshire and (coach) Dougie Brown in particular have been very helpful during the negotiations and we thank them for all their help. We will work closely with them during the seasons ahead to make sure Boyd's workload is carefully managed and both they and ourselves get the best out of him during what I'm certain will be the most productive years of his career," he said.
"We've had a number of retirements in recent times, losing quality and proven performers such as Trent Johnston and John Mooney. That has severely depleted our quick bowling stocks so to have Boyd returning gives everyone a tremendous boost."
Rankin has so far played 82 games for Ireland and taken 112 wickets at an average of 24.12.