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Boyd Rankin: Why my shock move to Lisburn is best for my career

 

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Letting fly: Boyd Rankin bowls during Ireland's Test against England at Lord's last year

Letting fly: Boyd Rankin bowls during Ireland's Test against England at Lord's last year

�INPHO/Alex Davidson

Celebrating the wicket of Moeen Ali

Celebrating the wicket of Moeen Ali

�INPHO/Alex Davidson

Letting fly: Boyd Rankin bowls during Ireland's Test against England at Lord's last year

The chance to play with younger brother Robert and the amount of international cricket scheduled for Belfast this year were the main reasons behind Boyd Rankin signing for Lisburn.

The 35-year-old Ireland pace bowler confirmed his shock move last week after being declared an overseas player with Birmingham League side Moseley, where he had been playing for the last two years since losing his contract with Warwickshire.

Speaking from his home in Birmingham, he explained why he turned down the opportunity to return to his home club Bready, where another brother, Ireland international David, continues to play.

"At the moment, I'm still playing cricket full-time and will probably end up at Bready but I haven't played club cricket in Northern Ireland since 2006 and this was an opportunity to play with Robert again," said Rankin.

"I was looking at the (Ireland and inter-provincial) fixtures through the year and I was going to be spending a lot of time back home, so it will make it a bit easier for me to move back. There are a lot of games in Belfast and although I will probably only be available for five or six games with Lisburn, it just made sense.

"As a contracted player with Ireland I can continue to play with the (North West) Warriors, despite playing in the NCU, although I don't really understand why you have to play for the (Northern) Knights if you are playing in Belfast and not contracted.

"Mind you, things have changed so much in recent days so I'm not sure how much cricket will be played. There's not much anybody can do at the minute, the best-case scenario looks like a July to September season."

Rankin should have been in Zimbabwe today preparing for a six-match white-ball tour with Ireland but, like every other sportsperson, he is grounded at home.

"We've all been sent through fitness programmes from the S/C (strength and conditioning coach), but a lot of it is body weight stuff because you are allowed out of the house only once a day. I'm lucky I've got a Wattbike in the house, so most of my training is on that. Hopefully it won't last too long.

"I hear that Jimmy Anderson is practising his run-up and bowling action in his house. I haven't gone down that route yet but after another month of this...

"But whatever has to be done to save lives is the most important thing at the moment."

It is exactly three weeks since Ireland were in action - one of the last matches anywhere in the world before the sport lockdown - and with no prospect of any for the foreseeable future, the squad could be pitched into the T20 World Cup, scheduled for Australia in October, without any meaningful cricket in the shortest format.

Rankin, though, is hopeful that will not be the case.

"It probably depends on the Euro T20 Slam in August," he said. "If that doesn't go ahead, we maybe could arrange more T20 games, like we did last year against Scotland and Netherlands. At the moment we have ODIs against England in September but there are a few windows when we could potentially get more T20 fixtures ahead of the World Cup... if that goes ahead."

Looking to build on victories this year against World T20 champions West Indies and a first in 13 T20 matches against Afghanistan, the break could not have come at a worse time for Ireland.

"The West Indies win was amazing," said Rankin. "They will be one of the favourites at the World Cup and that was a great confidence booster for us. We showed during that series we have good young players coming through and power hitting in the middle order.

"Against Afghanistan, it was the same story. We weren't too far away in the two T20 games we lost, just a few overs with the bat and ball, but the more experience we have of those situations the better we will be."

Injury kept Rankin out of the West Indies win and he was left out of the Afghanistan victory which was decided in a Super Over, bowled by his Warriors team-mate Craig Young, but it didn't stop Rankin giving the match-winner a heads up.

"I'm much better playing than watching, I can understand how hard it is for a coach," he said. "I knew before the Super Over and chatting who was going to bowl it. Youngy had been bowling well so I had a quiet word with him to, 'Get your head on, you will probably be bowling it'.

"Those experiences will stand the young lads in good stead moving forward and into the World Cup. Against the big teams, you are under pressure from ball one."

Rankin, who has bowled more than 20,000 balls in first-class and international cricket, including three Test matches, both for and against England - the last Ireland's memorable appearance at Lord's in July last year - hopes to bring his experience to Wallace Park this summer.

"They have made some good signings and after staying up in their first season back in the Premier League they want to strengthen and stay in the top league for the foreseeable," he said. "I played Ireland A with David Simpson and I know the captain Adam Berry as a crowd of them come over for T20 finals day at Edgbaston, with my brother, and I've caught up with them.

"Hopefully, fingers crossed, we can get some cricket in. You realise when there is no sport on it's quite a boring world. People will, hopefully, appreciate what sport does when it returns and the break makes you realise how lucky you are to be involved."

Belfast Telegraph