Belfast Telegraph

Big boost for Ireland cricket team as Rankin makes return

By Ian Callender

Boyd Rankin is back in the Ireland squad for the first time since last year's World Cup finals.

The big Warwickshire opening bowler - Ireland's leading wicket-taker in the West Indies - has been plagued by injuries for the last two summers but he played his first match of the season in last week's county championship match against Essex and took four wickets in the only innings.

He is due to continue his comeback on Friday in a Pro40 game in Cardiff before joining up with the Ireland squad for the one day internationals against Kenya at Stormont on Sunday and Monday. There is a third ODI between the teams at the same venue on Wednesday but Warwickshire want him back for their championship game against Derbyshire which starts on the same day.

Niall O'Brien will keep wicket in the first game, before returning to play for Northamptonshire on Monday but skipper William Porterfield (Gloucestershire) and Gary Wilson (Surrey) are available for all three games. Middlesex do not have a game on Monday but Eoin Morgan is not included in the 14-man squad.

If all the games go ahead, Waringstown's Kyle McCallan will, on Monday, play his 200th game for Ireland.

Meanwhile, Ireland now know they cannot afford to lose either of their Inter-Continental Cup matches away to Namibia and Kenya in October if they are to reach their third successive final.

Kenya's penultimate game, in Amstelveen, due to end yesterday, was over in two days after Kenya dismissed the Netherlands for 126 and 121 to win by an innings and six runs and soar to the top of the table.If Ireland win one of their games in Africa and get a first innings lead and at least a draw in the other game the holders will still progress, almost certainly at Kenya's expense.

Meanwhile, Karachi-born Owais Shah tonight admitted England's entire squad had concerns over playing next month's Champions Trophy in Pakistan.

The England and Wales Cricket Board hierarchy met today to discuss the security situation in the Asian country, with England, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand all yet to commit.

Asked if he expected all four to stick together - it appears unlikely the players from the respective countries will soften on their safety reservations - Shah said: "I think so, I hope so."

Ireland squad (v Kenya): W Porterfield, G Wilson, N O’Brien, A Botha, A White, A Cusack, K O’Brien, R Strydom, K McCallan, G Kidd, P Stirling, A Poynter, B Rankin, P Connell.

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