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Rankin considered future after Ashes experience

George Dobell

May 26, 2014

Comments: 9 | Text size: A | A

Boyd Rankin picked up three wickets on his return, Warwickshire v Somerset, County Championship, Division One, Edgbaston, 2nd day, May 26, 2014
Boyd Rankin: "I still want to bowl fast and I still want to knock people over. If it is the only Test I play, then so be it ... It's just nice to be back" © Getty Images
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Boyd Rankin has admitted he thought about giving up cricket in the weeks following his chastening Test debut in Sydney.

Rankin, who took three wickets on his return to county duty with Warwickshire after five months on the sidelines, conceded that "I let myself and the rest of the team down" in that final Test of the Ashes series.

The 29-year-old Rankin, who retired from representing Ireland to pursue his dream of playing Test cricket, managed 20 overs in the match, but was twice forced off the pitch with an attack of cramp brought on by nerves and never achieved the rhythm that had seen the likes of Ricky Ponting and Marcus Trescothick hail him as the most challenging fast bowler they experienced in county cricket over previous seasons.

But Rankin has subsequently discovered that he went into the game carrying a serious shoulder injury and said he still hopes he can "show what I'm capable of doing" on the biggest stage.

"I wasn't anywhere near where I wanted to be in that Sydney game," Rankin said in his first interview since the tour. "I had torn half the cartilage off my shoulder in a fielding session we had a couple of days before the Test. So I was struggling with that and I had a back spasm during the Test as well.

"I felt I had to play. I had to take my chance, but I don't suppose I did that, really. I tried to fight hard through that. It was still a special occasion for me, but I did feel I let myself and the rest of the team down. It's been tough coming back from that.

"I don't feel I took my chance. I'm sure a lot of people weren't impressed. Hopefully I can still show people what I'm capable of doing. I didn't do that during the winter.

"It was a tough period for me when I got back. There were a few days when I was thinking 'should I still be playing cricket?' There were quite a few questions asked. But I learned a lot from the experience and I believe it has made me a stronger person. All I can do now is put in some strong performances and see what happens. I know, deep down, what I can do."

Rankin's shoulder injury was only diagnosed when he returned to county duty with Warwickshire. But the fact that he went into an Ashes match so palpably unprepared will raise more questions about the environment on the tour, with Rankin pointing out that the lack of match practice he had before the game left him struggling for confidence and rhythm. It might also raise questions about the wisdom of England forgoing a net session two days ahead of a Test to focus on fitness and fielding.

"It wasn't a great environment to be in," Rankin said. "It was a really tough tour to be on. A lot of the lads were struggling. It wasn't a great tour, but I hope I've learned a lot from the experience and if it comes again, I hope I can do a lot better.

"I only found out about my injury a month ago. I asked for a scan and then had a call which said: 'You might need an op. You could be out for four or five months.' It's still giving me some pain, but it's calmed down quite a lot now.

"We had a fitness and fielding session two days before the Test and I did something to it then. They didn't pick it up at the time.

"The hardest thing during in the tour was constantly bowling in the nets and not getting any game time. The only way you could work it better would be for the lads who are not playing to play some cricket in terms of matches. But it was difficult to be out of the side and then go straight into a Test. It would have been nice if there was some match practice away from that."

Despite the disappointment, Rankin said he has never regretted retiring from Ireland duty and that he would have no second thoughts should England select him for another tour.

"I would never turn down a tour," he said. "I still want to bowl fast and I still want to knock people over. If it is the only Test I play, then so be it. I would never change what I have done. I've always said I wanted to try and play at the highest level and that is Test cricket.

"I'm trying not to look too far ahead. I just want to get back to enjoying playing cricket. It's nice to be back playing with the Bears and I've felt in decent rhythm these past two days. It's just nice to be back."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (May 27, 2014, 14:40 GMT)

Why don't the 'spare' players play some Grade cricket in the cities they happen to be in

Posted by indian1986 on (May 27, 2014, 14:38 GMT)

Well.. wht can i say... English cricketers should learn to handle pressure and control the nerves. Guess its time for ECB to hire a coach for mental aspects of the game. Guess wht would have he done if he were in Yuvraj singh's position after the T20 world cup.

Posted by   on (May 27, 2014, 9:52 GMT)

Whats wrong with these English players? They lose a series or in this case one game and they want to go home or give up cricket. That right there is the reason why the English team are not currently competitive.

Posted by anver777 on (May 27, 2014, 9:45 GMT)

Though Rankin failed in Ashes,..... this 6 ft 7 in tall lad has some talent & is a bright prospect for Eng !!!! We will surely heard more about him in future....

Posted by crockit on (May 27, 2014, 9:24 GMT)

Chris Silva - not sure your comments about people representing their own country is appropriate for players like Rankin who are born in a country that does not play tests - they deserve the opportunity to play at highest level if they are good enough as he might still yet prove to be.

Posted by siltbreeze on (May 27, 2014, 9:11 GMT)

The more we hear about the Ashes tour, the more it seems the management, particularly of the tall fast bowlers, was disastrous. Funny then that just about the only member of the coaching staff to keep his job is Saker, the bowling coach.

Posted by   on (May 27, 2014, 6:50 GMT)

This on going issue for touring teams where those that do not play in the main team, and thus can not get a game for several months while on tour, can surely be fixed if there was a desire to do so. Get those players playing in something like the Futures League in Australia (maybe this could be a way for the Northern Territory to get a team, include a few touring squad members in the squad so as to make for a competitive side). The 2nd XI County Championship, and similar leagues around the world. That way they could play a few games during the length of the tour, but could still be with the touring squad for net bowling or simply be with the group most of the time should the chance arise to actually play in the main team.

Posted by   on (May 27, 2014, 5:50 GMT)

ECB present set up with tailor made to finish players off. What was the role of the fitness guys in the back up team. Surely it is their duty to work with the players and keep them fully fit. I belong to the school that firmly believe players should play for their motherland when it comes to representing a country. England on the other hand do not show much interest in homebred, homegrown talent do they. Just look at players like Finn, Hales to name a couple, how they are treated. England would rather buy in a player from another country to represent England. This cannot be right. We must be the only country who do that in amongst the cricket playing nations. I can understand new comers i.e. countries who do not have players given special permission to get going. Not England. We do produce enough and more. Just that we do not know how to recognise talent and nurture the players.

Posted by dunger.bob on (May 26, 2014, 23:03 GMT)

Well well well. That casts a different light on it. The poor bloke, trying to bowl with an injury like that. No wonder he struggled.

It seems strange that nobody picked the problem up before the match. My guess is that Boyd kept quiet about it in the hope that it would come good and he wouldn't be robbed of his coveted debut at the SCG. If he had complained, it's hard to see how it could be missed.

I wouldn't mind seeing the big fella in full flight. I've heard he's quite a handful so I hope he makes it back to Test standard quickly and gets a bit of a run in the team. It would also be good if he suddenly loses form every time he plays against Australia lol.

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