Former Ashes winning captain Michael Vaughan expects Boyd Rankin to be the next Irishman to play Test cricket for England.
Vaughan made the prediction his audience did not want to hear at the Ulster Bank NCU 125th Anniversary dinner in Belfast City Hall.
National coach Phil Simmons was the among the 400 guests listening as Vaughan said that Eoin Morgan would have a long England career and opening bowler Rankin, the 27-year-old from Bready, a professional with Warwickshire and off to India this winter as a member of an England Performance Programme squad is likely to follow him.
The former England captain was in charge when another Ireland player, Ed Joyce, was trying to force his way into the Test team but, although he scored a century for England against Australia in a one-day international, Vaughan said Joyce “wasn’t very close” to his goal. This year Joyce returned to Ireland colours and the Dubliner played for his home country in the World Cup.
In a wide ranging interview, Vaughan declared Ireland the best of all 14 teams at this year’s World Cup in Asia at “controlling the controllables” – fielding, catching and running between the wickets — and, along with New Zealand’s Daniel Vettori, William Porterfield was the best captain.
Ulster Bank director Stephen Cruise announced that his company are extending their sponsorship of both the NCU Senior League and the Challenge Cup into next year, the 19th in a row it will have backed the top four sections in the NCU.
Vaughan also presented the leading award winners for the 2011 season to: Leading batsman: Mikey Taiaroa (Carrickfergus); Bowler: James Hall (Waringstown); All-rounder: Nigel Jones (Civil Service North); Wicket-keeper: Corin Goodall ( CSN); Best Under 15: James McCollum (Lurgan); Fair Play: Ballymena.
Taimur Khan has left League champions North Down after 13 years. The veteran all-rounder has joined CIYMS as player and youth development officer.