Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Swann retirement could be opportunity for Rankin

Telegraph Sport: where the debate really gets started

England's Graeme Swann
England's Graeme Swann

So, Graeme Swann has called time not just on his England cricket career but also his county career with Nottinghamshire.

His toublesome right (bowling) elbow has finally given up, explaining his below-par performances as England surrendered the Ashes after losing the first three Tests in Australia.

Swann saw no imminent improvement in his performances so has stepped down and out in the middle of the series.

He has been criticised for leaving England in the lurch because Monty Panesar is now the only other specialist slow bowler in the squad – and with or without a fully fit Swann, England's hopes of avoiding a 5-0 whitewash have immediately diminished.

Those of us on this side of the Irish Sea will hope it is another opening for big Boyd Rankin to make his Test debut, but don't bank on it.

For a start, England may play an extra batsman and, of course, the former Ireland fast bowler is not a like for like replacement – there's a little matter of eight inches in height and about 40mph in speed between the two.

However, the fact that Stuart Broad is unlikely to take his place in the England line-up because of an injured foot, could make room for two of England's three unused pace bowlers this week.

Rankin, Steven Finn and the already tried Chris Tremlett are the names in contention. Suddenly Big Boyd could have a two in three chance of winning that elusive first cap. But, if it happens, he will have Broad's injury to thank – not Swann's retirement.

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