Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
BOYD Rankin admits it was a shock to have been left out of Ireland’s second Test match, against Afghanistan in India in March.
Rankin (34) was Ireland’s most experienced Test match player before the five-day game in Dehradun, having already played for England against Australia in 2014 and he took the first wicket for Ireland in their inaugural Test against Pakistan at Malahide last year.
But in India, the selectors had to make the brave call to leave out their fastest bowler on the chronically slow pitch.
“Yes, it was a shock to be left out but I knew in the days leading up to it, there was a chance we would go in with a lot of spinners and with Thommo’s (Stuart Thompson) ability with the bat it was going to be a tough call between me and Murts (Tim Murtagh) to get the last spot.
“But Murts did really well in the one-day internationals and they went with the team they thought would win the Test match. Obviously, I was disappointed but in those conditions I understood the decision.”
Back home, there is no chance of Ireland playing three specialist slow bowlers at Malahide tomorrow when they face England in the first ODI of the summer so it is a pretty safe bet that Rankin will be leading the attack once again.
The surprise is that it is eight years since the big Bready speedster has worn the green shirt against England, having missed the last two ODIs in 2017 at Bristol and Lord’s with a back problem.
Indeed, the former Warwickshire professional - who last game in this fixture was FOR England at Malahide in 2013 - could not even remember his previous appearance against the Three Lions – a rain-affected ODI in Clontarf when Ireland, needing 129 to win in 23 overs, fell 12 runs short.
Much more memorable were the two World Cup games in Guyana in 2007, when Rankin took 2-28, and four years later, the world-shattering victory in Bangalore, ‘Kevin O’Brien’s match’.
“Yes, they bring back fond memories,” says Rankin,” and we’ll be trying to pull in some of that experience and have the belief that we can beat them again. If we get all the guys performing on the day there is no reason why we can’t. Rankin has no problem remembering his two victims in Guyana.
“I got Ed Joyce with my first ball and then the England captain, Michael Vaughan. I wasn’t as fit back then so I didn’t get through my full quota but I’ve learnt from that experience and you have to be fully fit. The England captain will be in Rankin’s sights again tomorrow and this time it’s a much more familiar foe. I’ve played a lot of cricket with Eoin Morgan over the years. We made our Ireland debuts in the same match (in 2003) and he was captain on my one-day and T20 debuts for England.
“He’s played against Ireland quite a few times but it will always be a strange occasion for him every time he plays against Ireland, but hopefully we can get him quite cheaply.”
Morgan will be comfortably the most experienced England player in the team tomorrow as all their Indian Premier League stars are being rested, ahead of the five-match series against Pakistan which starts next week, their final action before the World Cup starts at the end of the month.
And Rankin says that gives Ireland some hope as they strive for their first win on home soil against their Test neighbours.
“Yes, Chris Woakes, my former county team-mate, is one of the ones not travelling but they will all be out to impress ahead of the World Cup selection.
“It means, though, there could be a lot of nerves and that lack of experience and a new-look side could play into our hands.
“We’ll be looking at their players and come up with a plan to win the game. It’s a great opportunity for us but they are still a world class side, it will be a tough ask, but we will give it a good shot.”