Northern Ireland's Boyd Rankin makes Ashes Test match debut for England
The Londonderry-born former Ireland opening bowler has won his first England cap
Northern Irishman Boyd Rankin has made his debut for England in the fifth Test, at long last.
England chose three debutants, for the first time in almost eight years, as Gary Ballance, Scott Borthwick and Boyd Rankin all won their first caps in the final Ashes Test at the SCG.
Joe Root, Monty Panesar and Tim Bresnan were the men to make way as England try to avoid the ignominy of a series whitewash.
The Londonderry-born former Ireland opening bowler was given his Engand cap in Sydney after being overlooked for the first match of the series in favour of Chris Tremlett.
Rankin is not the first Northern Ireland-born cricketer to play Test cricket - Larne's Martin McCaugue played three Tests for England in 1993 and ‘94 and Emile McMaster, who went to Harrow, played a solitary Test against South Africa in March 1889.
But the 29-year-old is the first Ulsterman to make the transition from club cricket here to the Test arena.
Just yesterday, writing in Boyd Rankin's Ashes Diary for the Belfast Telegraph, he said he was backing Alistair Cook and Andy Flower to avoid a tour wipeout.
Proud fans staying up late to watch the match took to Twitter to wish him well:
— Denise Delany (@deniascot) January 2, 2014
Wonder how many Irish people are going to stay up and watch the #ashes in support of Boyd Rankin hope he does well
Great to see Bready man Boyd Rankin make his test debut. Let's see how the Aussies handle an Ulsterman— peter weir (@peterweirmla) January 2, 2014
Boyd Rankin is a big bloke! Let's hope he can rough them up a bit #comeonlads— Mark Bailie (@markbails) January 2, 2014
Australia, as widely anticipated, were unchanged again as they seek to wrap up a 5-0 win with the same XI throughout.
Alastair Cook won his first toss of the series, however - and under cloudy skies, he took a gamble by choosing to bowl first.
Boyd Rankin timeline: From Co Tyrone farmland to centre stage in Sydney
1984: Born July 5 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland.
2004: Joins Middlesex.
2006: Makes List A debut as Ireland A lose by 87 runs to Sri Lanka A.
- Joins Derbyshire after two years at Middlesex without playing for first team.
2007: January 31 - Makes one-day international debut for Ireland against Bermuda, taking nought for 25 off four overs in a four-wicket win.
February - Makes first-class bow as Ireland beat UAE by an innings and 170 runs in ICC Intercontinental Cup. Rankin takes four for 56 in second innings.
March/April - Part of Ireland squad which claims upset victories over Pakistan and Bangladesh at the World Cup in the West Indies, taking 12 wickets in the tournament.
May - Makes Derbyshire County Championship debut against Leicestershire.
October 15 - Signs two-year deal with Warwickshire after turning down contract with Derbyshire.
2008: August - Makes Warwickshire County Championship debut against Essex after an injury-hit season.
2009: June 8 - Makes Twenty20 international debut in ICC World Twenty20 as Ireland beat Bangladesh by six wickets.
2011: March 2 - Helps Ireland claim a shock three-wicket win over England at World Cup in India.
August 15 - Called up to England Lions squad and plays in 135-run win over Sri Lanka A.
2012: August: Announces he will retire from international cricket with Ireland in a bid to play Test cricket for England.
2013: June 25 - Makes England debut in T20 defeat to New Zealand at the Oval.
September 3 - Makes England ODI debut and takes ODI-best figures of four for 46 in six-wicket win over Ireland in Dublin.
September 23 - Named in England's squad for winter Ashes Tour of Australia.
2014: January 3 - Makes Test debut in Sydney with England 4-0 down in five-game series.
How the last debutant trio fared
Gary Ballance, Scott Borthwick and Boyd Rankin have all been called up to play at the SCG - the first time England have given three players a first cap at the same time in nearly eight years.
In March 2006 Ian Blackwell, Alastair Cook and Monty Panesar all made their debuts in a draw against India in Nagpur.
But how did those players fare in Test cricket?
Scored four runs and took an aggregate none for 71 across two innings. It was his only Test and he returned to the county scene before retiring last year.
Made an immediate impact by scoring 60 and an unbeaten 104. Has worked his way up to captain of the current side, scoring over 8,000 runs and making 101 appearances to date. Is 29 and appears to have many years ahead.
Made an immediate impact as his first act was to trap the great Sachin Tendulkar leg-before. Remains part of the England set-up but has been a bit-part player over recent years. Has made 50 Test appearances and taken 167 wickets, but could be replaced by Borthwick.
:: The previous occasion when England gave three players their debuts at the same time was in 1999 when Chris Adams, Gavin Hamilton and Michael Vaughan played against South Africa.
Adams played five Tests with a high score of 31 and Hamilton just the one during which he recorded a pair, while Vaughan would be an Ashes-winning captain with 82 Tests and 18 centuries.
Belfast Telegraph Digital