UPTOWN TOP RANKIN

Itís been a great week for Boyd Rankin, who enjoyed birthday celebrations with his family and got the perfect present with the news he was one of five NW Warriors players in the squad for the historic Test against England at the Home of Cricket in two weeksí time.

ďIím really pleased to make the squad for the Lordís Test,Ē Rankin told the Chronicle. ďIt has obviously been in the back of my mind and the rest of the players this past few weeks. Itís going to be a massive game and a great occasion not just for the players but also the families and supporters. It really is a dream come true for me to play a Test at Lordís. Iíve played there a few times with Warwickshire and Ireland including a great game in the 2009 T20 World Cup when we ran Sri Lanka close.

ďItís not the easiest ground at times to be bowl on and it takes a bit of getting used to with the slope but my experience of playing there before will stand me in good stead.Ē

Rankin was an integral part of the Ireland ODI squad that completed a clean sweep against Zimbabwe. How did he feel the games went?

ďItís great to be fully fit and I feel Iíve been bowling pretty well recently, although maybe that hasnít been reflected in my figures against Zimbabwe in the ODIís, but thatís sometimes the way things pan out. I thought we did pretty well with the last game was really the complete performance when we bowled well to restrict them and chased it down pretty easily. We have new faces in the squad and it has freshened things up. Mark Adair and Shane Getkate have both done well and James McCollum looks settled now at the top of the order and will get great confidence from having a couple of scores under his belt.

ďWe now switch our attention to T20 cricket with the three T20 internationals against Zimbabwe. Itís a format we havenít done particularly well in this past few years and itís hard to put your finger on just why. Weíve perhaps focused on red-ball cricket and the 50-over game. With a World Cup qualifiers later this year itís something we have got to look to redress and hopefully we can do just that this week.

ďThe new players in the squad will help in that they arenít affected by the bad run and low confidence of recent years. They can just go out and play with freedom as many have shown in the T20 interpro festivals. We have to play with no fear and that applies to the bowlers as well as the batsmen. You have to be pretty clear and confident of your decision making and go for it 100%.Ē

The final two games in the T20 series are back at Rankinís home ground of Bready and you get the sense of pride at the wonderful transformation at the club over the past decade as they have gone from a club ground to a picturesque international stadium.

ďIím delighted for the club who have worked so hard over all the years. They have developed superb facilities, including indoors. There has been a lot of work on the drainage which is essential in this part of the world, and that really showed with the fact we got a full ODI in last Monday despite the adverse weather. There are just so many people working tirelessly behind the scenes and that community spirit and volunteer ethos is a great testament to the club and the NW.Ē

Rankin turned 35 last week and got a rare opportunity to spend it with his girlfriend and family.

ďI travelled down after the Thursday ODI and got the chance to celebrate with all the family for the first time in a long while as Iíve usually been in England. That was great and I managed to get a bit of cake too!Ē

While 35 is certainly at the veteran stage for a fast bowler, Rankin isnít considering hanging up the boots just yet.

ďIíve still got the drive, hunger and enthusiasm for the game and as long as Iím fit and firing then I want to continue. Although Iím 35 I feel Iíve still got at least another year or two left in me. This has probably been my best period for Ireland in terms of fitness and playing all the games. Iíve been injury free this past two years or so and my performances have been good in that time. I probably know my body better now than at any time and that has helped.

ďI still would like to play in all three formats but that will be up to the selectors and their long-term plans. As long as Iím performing I want to play as much as I can. Itís very much a young team now but you do need that bit of experience in there to get the balance right. Iím keen to pass on my knowledge to the younger guys and thereís no better place to do that than on the park.Ē

The matches at Bready are on Friday and Sunday with the action starting at 4pm on both days.