Boyd Rankin will play his first inter-provincial for 15 years when he turns out for North West Warriors next week against Leinster Lightning at Pembroke.
The Warwickshire professional has not been selected for Championship action this season and the county have agreed to release him for vital red-ball match practice ahead of Ireland’s first Test, against Pakistan starting two weeks today.
Barry McCarthy, the only other Ireland county player yet to see first-team action, will play for Durham 2nds next week against Scotland ‘A’ but the Dubliner was last night hoping to be involved in the County Championship match against Northamptonshire, which starts today.
Rankin joins William Porterfield and Niall O’Brien, who will again keep wicket this year, in the strongest ever Warriors line-up, captained by Andy McBrine and also including Stuart Thompson, Craig Young and Rankin’s younger brother David, who has appeared in two Twenty20 internationals.
One player who will not be involved in the Inter-provincial Championship is Brigade all-rounder Johnny Thompson who, at the age of 35, has stepped down from multi-day cricket to concentrate on white-ball games.
With seven internationals, the Warriors selectors have not included an overseas professional but they are still outnumbered in Ireland-capped players by Lightning, who are fielding 10 under new captain George Dockrell.
Only three of the squad can be assured of a place in the Test match team, however — Ed Joyce, Kevin O’Brien and Andrew Balbirnie — so it will be a big three days for George Dockrell, Simi Singh and Peter Chase as they strive to be among the 13 names to face Pakistan, which will be announced next Friday.
The match of the day in the Premiership tomorrow is the clash between last year’s second and third place sides, Brigade and Coleraine.
Both made a winning start last week and although they had only three wickets to spare in the defeats of Eglinton and Ardmore respectively, the losers will be dangerous opponents this season and in difficult opening-day conditions they were just grateful to get over the line with 22 points.
The only team to take maximum points last Saturday were Bready, who dismissed champions Donemana for just 70 in the shock result of the day. It should give the Magheramason side the confidence to follow-up, at home to Fox Lodge, while Donemana welcome back Jordan McGonigle and Dwayne McGerrigle for their home opener against Eglinton.
Squads: Warriors: A McBrine (capt), R Allen, D Barr, A Gillespie, S Lazars, W Porterfield, N O’Brien, B Rankin, D Rankin, D Scanlon, S Thompson, C Young
Lightning: G Dockrell (capt), J Anderson, A Balbirnie, P Chase, E Joyce, T Kane, K O’Brien, A Sheridan, S Singh, J Tector, S Terry, L Tucker.
Tomorrow’s fixtures: Premiership: Bready v Fox Lodge, Brigade v Coleraine, Donemana v Eglinton, Strabane v Ardmore.
Championship: Ballyspallen v Newbuildings, Bonds Glen v Killyclooney, Burndennett v St Johnston, Drummond v Glendermott