Ireland open door to Rankin return
A day after Boyd Rankin revealed his time on England's Ashes tour led him to contemplate giving up the game, Cricket Ireland has expressed the hope that the fast bowler could still play for them at the 2015 World Cup.
Rankin retired from playing for Ireland towards the end of 2012 and made his England debut last year before playing in the last Test of the Ashes series in January. But, after enduring an unhappy tour, Rankin appears to have slid down the pecking order of prospective England fast bowlers and might be open to the possibility of a return.
While there is a qualifying period of two years for players returning to play for Associate nations after having represented Full Member nations - it was recently reduced from four years - the ICC does have the ability to waive this in the case of exceptional circumstances. Precedent was set when they allowed Ed Joyce to return to Ireland duty less than four years after he represented England. Then, as now, the catalyst was the prospect of a World Cup.
"There is, in the higher echelons of the ICC, some sympathy for the view that the best players for each nation should appear in the World Cup," Warren Deutrom, the chief executive of Cricket Ireland, told ESPNcricinfo.
"There is a sense that it would be a shame if a player like Boyd was not there. And that has given me a sense that all is not lost in the hope to see him playing for Ireland in the World Cup."
Several substantial obstacles remain before such a dream could become a reality, though. Not least, the fact that Rankin himself has not been consulted on the idea and the fact that both the ECB and Warwickshire would have to agree. The ICC would also have to agree to make a special dispensation for Rankin.
While that would, in the short term, be of benefit to Ireland, it might have a less positive impact for Associate nations in the long term. If other players feel there is the prospect of little penalty should they abandon their Associate team in the hope of playing for a Full Member nation, it could lead to a further dilution in the quality of the game below Test level.
William Porterfield, the Ireland captain and a team-mate of Rankin's at Warwickshire, said: "I haven't spoken to Boyd, but I'm pretty sure he still harbours the aspiration of getting into more England sides and doing well for England. But he bowls upwards of 90mph and, if was to become available, then as far as I'm concerned he is more than worthy of a place."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo