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Rankin set to return to bolster Ireland's Test bid

By Ian Callender

Boyd Rankin is set to make a dramatic return to the Ireland team after reportedly giving up on his England career.

Although there has been no confirmation from the Bready-born pace bowler, a meeting between Rankin and Cricket Ireland management will take place this month with a view to welcoming him back into the fold in time for the World Twenty20 in India in March.

Rankin has not played for England since a one-day international in Brisbane on January 17, 2014, a fortnight after his only Test appearance in the last game of the Ashes series, and under the ICC's re-qualification rules becomes eligible to play for Ireland again two years after his last appearance for England.

When new Ireland coach John Bracewell approached Rankin in June, the 6ft 8in bowler said at the time he did not want to be known as a "one-Test wonder" and was hoping to get another chance. But when the England Lions squad was named in September, Rankin was not included and, when his name was also omitted from the Performance Programme Fast Bowlers' camp in South Africa this winter, that appeared to be the death knell to big Boyd's hopes of a recall, at least in the short-term.

At 31 years of age and now at the back of a long queue of England fast bowlers, time is running out for Rankin, but Ireland can now tempt him back into the international arena, not only with an appearance at a sixth global event - the last of his 82 Ireland caps was at the 2012 World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka - but with an increasing number of one-day internationals, the latest two against South Africa and Australia in Johannesburg confirmed only this week.

Cricket Ireland have been in contact with Rankin by email over the last few weeks, since the England squads were named, and although he has not officially committed himself to a return, he has been telling county team-mates that he is set to abandon his England career.

The one stumbling block could be his county, Warwickshire, who will be wary of any extra workload which Ireland will impose on him and if he is not available for all their matches, a new contract may have to be negotiated. But if Cricket Ireland compensate him that shouldn't be a problem and Ireland fans can look forward to seeing Rankin charging in with the new ball.

In his first 'life' with Ireland, Rankin took 112 wickets at an average of 24, at a strike rate of a wicket every 5.2 overs.

If he commits to a return to Ireland, his first game could be the next Intercontinental Cup match, against Papua New Guinea in February, the competition which could lead to Rankin playing a second Test match, this time for Ireland in 2019.

Belfast Telegraph


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