Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Boyd Rankin could bounce out the Aussies on lively Perth pitch: Botham

Boyd Rankin has Sir Ian Botham's backing

Sir Ian Botham has called for Ulsterman Boyd Rankin to be given his chance in the third Ashes Test, which starts in Perth in the early hours of Friday morning.

The legendary England all-rounder and former skipper, who once won a Test against Australia almost single handedly in what became known as 'Botham's Ashes', feels former Ireland fast bowler Rankin could help turn round the tourists' fortunes in the current series.

Australia have won the opening two Tests at a canter, requiring just one more victory to regain the famous urn.

Botham said: "I'd like to see Boyd Rankin given a go, because he bowls with more pace and aggression than any of our other guys.

"Perhaps it's a case of letting him loose in Perth.

"Boyd is a big unit and he is strong. With the right help and guidance, which he'll get, I think he's got real potential.

"He is no spring chicken – he has been around a little while – so he has learned his trade and come up through the ranks.

"I think the lad deserves a chance. You don't get many giants who come in and try to bowl quick.

"I think it's great to see him in there. Give him a go.

"I want to bombard the Aussie batsmen with pace and see how they like it.

"The strength's in the reserves – we've three talented seamers (Rankin, Steven Finn and Chris Tremlett) after one spot."

Belfast Telegraph columnist Rankin starred for Ireland before switching to England in a bid to play Test cricket.

The 29-year-old has impressed with Warwickshire, forcing himself into the Ashes reckoning, but has yet to figure in the Test side Down Under.

Aussie fast bowler Mitchell Johnson has torn England apart in the opening two Tests, taking 17 wickets, with 6ft 7in Rankin offering the tourists an equivalent weapon, especially at the WACA which is famed for pace and bounce.

England may opt to pick a side with no spinners and instead beef up their pace attack.

That would mean the chop for Graeme Swann, a mainstay of the side since 2009, who would become the highest profile casualty of England's disastrous start.

Meanwhile, the Australians are unrepentant about their aggressive bowling tactics against England's batsmen – including the tailenders.

The home pace trio of Johnson, Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris have been free and easy with their bouncers in the first two Tests from one down to 11.

As England struggled to an inadequate 172 all out in their first innings in Adelaide, on their way to a second successive landslide defeat, Australia's fast bowlers were more than happy to pepper last man Monty Panesar with plenty of short deliveries.

Bowling coach Craig McDermott clarified too that, as the series moves on to one of the bounciest pitches in the world game at the WACA in Perth, there will be no let-up.

"That's been our team plan, and I don't think we're going to go away from that," he said.

"There's not too many tailenders around the place who bat below seven that enjoy playing a lot of balls around their helmet – so, so be it.

"The way we want to play our cricket, we will continue to do – and what you want to describe that as is completely up to you.

"We just want to play good, aggressive, Australian cricket – and keep doing that every single day from the moment we put our feet over the rope."

Australia's surge into a 2-0 lead has put an obvious dent in England's hopes for a fourth successive Ashes series victory.

But the hosts are wary of complacency, as batsman George Bailey confirmed.

He said: "While the cricket we're playing at the moment is really pleasing, it's about being able to replicate that."

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