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Ireland determined for full membership

Performance director Richard Holdsworth has warned Ireland will be merely a "breeding ground" for England cricketers unless they become a Test playing nation and full ICC member.

Paceman Boyd Rankin on Wednesday followed in the footsteps of Ed Joyce and Eoin Morgan in quitting Ireland to try and further their international ambitions with England. Rankin, who has also signed a new three-year contract with Warwickshire, will be available for the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka before switching his allegiances.

However, Holdsworth hopes Ireland can stop such defections by graduating to full ICC status, and said: "ICC has an excellent ambition to ensure that there are more competitive nations on the world stage. But this will not be realised if its next best non-Test nation is merely a breeding ground for the England team."

He added: "Boyd was offered a significantly improved contract to remain an Irish international cricketer. But unfortunately we were unable to compete with the lure of Test cricket and the financial rewards of being a potential England cricketer."

"This further loss only strengthens our aim of becoming a full member of ICC and ultimately a Test-playing country. This will be the third Irish player we have lost to the England cause in just six years.

"It is our strong view that we must be given the opportunity very soon to finance a full-time international programme and centrally contract all our players in order to halt this exodus."

Rankin, 28, said: It's been a difficult decision for me but I will be retiring from playing cricket for Ireland after the World T20. I feel I can't continue to play the amount of cricket I have been playing with Warwickshire, England Lions and Ireland over the last few years.

"I have genuine ambitions of playing Test cricket and have to give myself the best chance to do that by reducing my workloads as a fast bowler and concentrating on playing cricket for Warwickshire."

Rankin is delighted to have signed a new deal for the Bears, who are the current leaders of the LV= County Championship Division One table. A season's best haul of 55 first-class wickets last season led to a call up for the England performance programme and subsequent England Lions tour of Bangladesh.

Rankin said: "The coaching team have been great in helping me develop as a cricketer and we have a team that's capable of consistently challenging for honours. At present we're very well placed to push for silverware and I'm committed to doing everything possible to help us realise this in 2012 and beyond."


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