Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
Boyd Rankin has admitted that he would abandon his Ireland career if England came calling.
A week before Ireland face Alistair's Cook's side at Clontarf, the former Bready bowler, now starring in county cricket with Warwickshire, made his debut for England Lions on Tuesday and then told me that if the opportunity arose to play even one-day cricket for England he would have to say ‘yes'.
Rankin finished with two for 19 from six overs against Sri Lanka A at Northampton and then said: 'I want to play at the highest level and be the best I can be. I still feel I'm getting better and better and if the chance came I would probably take it.
'The ultimate goal is to play Test cricket and I don't know if the one-day team is the route to Test team. It won't happen for a while anyway but it's just a matter of trying to get my foot into the Lions (door) and do well with them and get on the winter programme.'
It was the Lions who helped him back to fitness last winter and Rankin is keen to take advantage of the coaches and facilities which Boyd describes as the best.
'I didn't have the number of overs I would have liked going into the World Cup with Ireland but it was the way it worked out with my injuries. I've got over my injury worries, I feel, and I just want to kick on for the rest of the season with a number of games with Warwickshire and the big game next week. We have all the top coaches and facilities over here and I want to make use of it and see what happens here,' added Rankin.
Tuesday's game was the first time he had bowled competitively with a white ball since Ireland's match against Scotland exactly five weeks earlier as he has been unable to force his way into the Warwickshire one-day team this season.
'I suppose it's strange that I got the England call for a one day game but I think it was a chance for them to have a look at me (before next week's ODI against England!) and it doesn't matter what form of the game it is. I do the same in every format,' added the 27-year-old.
'I'm used to bowling with the white ball but I've done well with red ball this year (in county cricket, where he has taken 43 wickets) and the white ball last year. I feel I've been doing well in both but haven't kicked on with Warwickshire with the white ball but it means I have rest time because I'm playing quite a few four-day games. It's just nice to be able to get the opportunity."
After the championship game against Hampshire, starting tomorrow, Rankin flies to Dublin to meet up with the rest of his Ireland team-mates ahead of the England game on Thursday and he is knows everybody is looking forward to it.
'The boys are up for next week's match,' he says. They (England) will come out hard because we beat them the last time we met and it's good we are playing in Dublin in front of a home crowd. Hope it's a good day and we get another good result and I hope I get a few wickets next week.'
That way, Rankin really can't lose. He will have impressed England and helped Ireland to another famous victory