Cricket: Rankin signs for Warwickshire and is now set to face Ireland
Boyd Rankin has confirmed he is leaving Derbyshire for next door neighbours Warwickshire, transferring his allegiance from his mentor for the last decade, former Ireland coach Mike Hendrick, to South African great Alan Donald, who is the bowling coach at Edgbaston.
The move, sealed by a three-year contract, means that Rankin could be playing AGAINST Ireland twice in the first month of next season because Warwickshire are one of the four counties in the same Friends Provident Trophy group as Ireland. The teams play each other home and away before the end of May.
Explaining his decision to make the switch after just two seasons at Derby, Rankin said: "It was incredibly difficult after all that Hendo has done for me but Warwickshire are a bigger club with a better structure and more support staff. I could have stayed at Derbyshire - they had offered me another two-year contract - but I couldn't be sure I would get this opportunity again.
"Ashley Giles has just taken over as coach and Donald will be the bowling coach so I will be learning from one of the masters. It was just too good an opportunity to turn down, " said Rankin, Ireland's bowling hero at this year's World Cup finals when he took 12 wickets, including many of the game's top players.
"Derbyshire put pressure on me to give them an answer - they knew I was talking to Warwickshire and Yorkshire - so they probably helped me come to a decision. If I want to go onto the next level in the game, it is not as easy to get recognised at Derbyshire as it is at Warwickshire and Giles has told me that if I'm bowling well I will play," added Rankin, who is currently back home in Bready.
"Because of my injury (he was out with a stress fracture for 10 weeks last summer) I have not been able to get games under my belt and that's what I'm looking forward to next summer, getting plenty of 1st XI county experience. And with a big club."
Rankin has only to wait another month before returning to action. He is one of the contracted players for the Indian Cricket League - Niall O'Brien is the only other Irishman - and is due to travel on November 19 for a Twenty20 tournament in the sub-continent.
Meanwhile, Ireland will play England in their opening match at the Under 19 World Cup finals in Malaysia next year.
In a change to the original fixtures, to recognise Ireland's top seeding at this level in Europe, Ireland will be based initially in Kuala Lumpur in Group D with Bangladesh and Bermuda, another of the six Associates who have qualified for the 16-team tournament.
The glamour game against England is on Sunday February 17 with the crunch game against Bangladesh taking place three days later. If Ireland can win that game then the Irish
squad would be playing against Bermuda, a team they would expect to beat, on Thursday February 21 for a place in the Super Eight stage.
Bangor's Andrew Nixon is one of four players who have joined the 14-strong squad who qualified for the finals by winning the European Championship title in Belfast last July. The final 15 will be chosen in December.