Rankin called up as Finn, Broad cover
England have added Warwickshire's former Ireland fast bowler Boyd Rankin to their ODI squad for the remaining two matches in the one-day series against New Zealand amid injury concerns over Stuart Broad and Steven Finn less than a week before the start of Champions Trophy.
Broad suffered a bruised knee taking a catch off his own bowling during the second Test at Headingley and Finn has felt soreness in his shins. Both players were ruled out of the opening two matches against New Zealand and Alastair Cook admitted that England missed their presence as Jade Dernbach and Chris Woakes struggled to fill in effectively during the five-wicket defeat at Lord's.
"They are key parts of our one-day team, experienced campaigners and world-class bowlers," Cook said. "The guys coming in haven't got that experience and don't know their games quite as well those two. They are hard boots to fill but it gave them an opportunity today to show everyone how good they are. When you are defending a small total it's quite hard because you know the only way of winning is to bowl them out so you do start chasing it."
Asked whether leaving out Broad and Finn had been a precautionary measure ahead of the Champions Trophy, Cook said: "I think it's a little bit more than that. As I said at the start of the day, if it had been a cup final it would have been touch and go. Clearly it's not ideal. But it's another week away and we have a good medical team, so fingers crossed."
Rankin, 28, will join the England squad ahead of the second match at the Ageas Bowl on Sunday. He has played 37 ODIs and 15 T20Is for Ireland but retired from Irish cricket towards the end of 2012 in order to concentrate on winning a place in the England Test side. The 6ft 7in Rankin had struggled to remain injury free and it was made clear to him that his body could not sustain the burden of playing all formats of the game for Ireland, Warwickshire and England Lions. It was also made clear by his then club coach, Ashley Giles, that he would not be guaranteed another county contract unless he committed to Warwickshire and England.
Rankin made his England Lions debut in 2011 against Sri Lanka A and was selected on the England Performance Programme later that same year. He came very close to being called-up to the Test squad at the start of 2012 when Chris Tremlett was forced out of the series in the UAE due to injury, but was unavailable due to fitness issues of his own.
Rankin also becomes the fourth Warwickshire player in the current England ODI squad, a sure sign of the influence of Giles, who left Warwickshire at the end of 2012 to assume the role of England's limited-overs coach.
While Rankin's recent record is relatively modest - he hardly played in 2012 due to injury - he is just the sort of fast bowler preferred by England's bowling coach, David Saker. Not unlike Tremlett, who is still feeling his way back after a long injury lay-off, Rankin can sometimes appear unthreatening when striving for rhythm. But he is capable of generating steep bounce, sharp pace and movement in the air and off the pitch when he is at his best. Marcus Trescothick rated him as good a fast bowler as any he faced in 2011.
Although James Harris and Stuart Meaker have recently been involved with England's limited-overs squad, Cook said that Rankin's height, in particular, was an attribute the bowling group was short on in the absence of Broad and Finn.
"You try and have as balanced a bowling attack as possible," he said. "James Harris impressed when he was in the squad, but you would have five bowlers of pretty much the same height and similar skill set. When you have five bowlers you want as much variety as you can. When you lose two tall bowlers you want to replace them with another tall bowler."
Rankin's selection can do Ireland's calls for more inclusion within the ICC's elite teams no harm at all. He joins former team-mates Eoin Morgan and Ed Joyce as players who have graduated through the Irish system before opting to play for England. It is a situation that does little to refute Ireland's claim that they require Test status to end the talent drain.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo