Ireland news August 11, 2012

Retirement should prolong career - Rankin


Boyd Rankin has admitted feeling guilty about ending his Ireland international career but insisted that he had little option but to cut down his playing commitments if he was to have any hope of sustaining a career in the game.

The door for a return is open, however, with Rankin allowing himself two or three years in which to fulfil his ambition of playing for England before considering a return for Ireland.

Rankin, described by Marcus Trescothick as among the best bowlers he faced in 2011, came close to an England call-up during the winter tour of the UAE. With Chris Tremlett and Tim Bresnan both forced to return home due to injury, the England management were considering sending for Rankin, then on the Lions tour of Sri Lanka, only for injury to scupper his chances.

Such episodes have been far from uncommon in Rankin's career. When fit, the 6ft 7in Irishman has the pace, bounce and hostility to trouble the best but his progress has been hampered by a series of injury setbacks, the latest of which - a stress fracture in the foot - proved to be the catalyst for a review of his obligations.

Finally, after much reflection, Rankin came to the conclusion that if he was to fulfil his ambition of playing the game to the highest level, he had to give up an Ireland career that has seen him play 37 ODIs and 12 T20Is and concentrate on representing England in Test cricket.

"I've been thinking about the decision to retire from Ireland for three months," Rankin told ESPNcricinfo. "It had just become difficult to play that amount of cricket. The injury I had - an injury that I probably picked up from playing so much cricket - had really set me back. It made it all hit home: I can't physically keep playing the amount of cricket I'm playing or I'll end up not playing at all. This decision should prolong my career."

It only takes a glance at Rankin's record to understand both his potential and his problems. He has an outstanding strike-rate of a wicket every 45.7 deliveries in first-class cricket - a record that places him high among contemporary fast bowlers - but, aged 28, he has been limited to just 51 first-class matches in his career, with injury interrupting his progress at regular intervals.

Such were Rankin's injury problems that he faced the prospect of losing his county deal if he refused to turn his back on Ireland. Warwickshire offered a lucrative three-year contract but only on the condition that Rankin retired from Ireland duty. Several other counties made enquiries into his services, but all of them were similarly concerned by his long-term fitness issues.

"There were a few other clubs interested," Rankin said. "But the first question that kept cropping up was, 'Are you still going to play for Ireland?' I think I would have been in the same situation wherever I went. I would have had to retire from Ireland to give England a good shot.

"Ireland tried quite hard to keep me. I guess there aren't too many other fast bowlers available for them, are there? We are on retainers with Ireland but they're not that much. They tried to increase it, but this decision was not about the money. It was about trying to play cricket to the highest level I can. They weren't happy, but they understood.

"Ideally I would love to play Test cricket for Ireland, but I can't see them gaining Test status during my playing career and I think everyone understands that any sportsman will want to play the game to the highest level they can.

"I do feel a bit guilty. I've always loved playing for Ireland - it's helped me hugely - and I know I'm not helping their cause by doing this. But it got to the stage where I just didn't feel I could keep playing. Ireland have so much cricket planned for the next couple of years and so do Warwickshire. Something had to give."

"I hope that, if I do play Test cricket for England, it reflects well on Ireland and will strengthen their claims for Test status"
Boyd Rankin

Coming so close to the England Test squad in the UAE was another catalyst for Rankin. The frustration of being denied by injury once again brought home to him how important it was that he gave himself the best chance of fulfilling his ambition. So, after much soul-searching and despite the attempts of his Warwickshire and Ireland team-mate William Porterfield to persuade him to continue, Rankin concluded that the logical thing to do was end his Ireland career.

"I know I was close and that was a factor in my decision," he said. "I've feel I probably have a two-year window to break into the England side and, to give myself the best chance of doing that, I had to give up playing for Ireland. I know my body can't take all the cricket it was being asked to play and I know I couldn't bowl at my best if I was tired or injured.

"Those comments from Marcus Trescothick were a huge boost to me. It really helped me understand that I could go on and play at the next level.

"I hope that, if I do play Test cricket for England, it reflects well on Ireland. It would show that the country can produce the players like Ed Joyce and Eoin Morgan who can go on and play for England. It'll strengthen their claims for Test status.

"William Porterfield is the Ireland captain and he tried to persuade me. He tried to keep me but I think he understands. Everyone wants the best for me, really. They know that, in an ideal world, I want to play for Ireland, but in terms of my body and the amount of cricket I was playing, it was impossible to keep everyone happy.

"And, if it doesn't happen with England, I can always go back in three years. They said the door is always open to go back."

Rankin faces an uneasy wait ahead of the announcement of Ireland's World T20 squad, however. He was hoping to make the tournament his last for Ireland, but now fears the selectors, either in pique or with a view to the future, may omit him from it. "Hopefully I'll be selected," he said, "but you can understand they may want to look to the future."

For the time being, Rankin is happy focusing on helping Warwickshire try to claim their first Championship title since 2004. In the longer term, though, the continued leaking of talent from Ireland is an issue that only the ICC can stop. Rankin is a symptom of a problem without an easy solution and another example of Ireland being a victim of their own success.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on August 13, 2012, 10:08 GMT "the fact that Ireland may be better than a very poor Bangladesh side"? - As much as I admire the development of Irish Cricket here are the REAL facts because Its getting quite tiring hearing from people that Ireland are better than Bangladesh when there's not much evidence. Number 1 unlike Ireland, Bangladesh have already beaten every full member. Number 2 unlike this 'very poor' Bangladesh side, Ireland does not have the Worlds best All-Rounder. Number 3, Bangladesh have a better head to record in all forms against Ireland including recent performances so I don't understand how Ireland being better than Bangladesh is a fact so can you please justify your claim? Also Bangladesh have a far superior record at under-19 level against Ireland 5-0 to Bangladesh. I only speak facts and use reasonable logic nothing else love to here from you thanks.

  • Cricket Fan on August 13, 2012, 8:34 GMT

    In India we have lot of Scientists. But after their basic study they go to other countries for research , better facility and better salary . India is not rich for that. Cricket Ireland is the same. Irish cricket is not rich. Better way to give a Temporary TEST STATUS for next 10 years. Irish crickets players are suitable for playing Test cricket for at least 7 years. Eion Morgan can return Ireland if he wish to server Ireland.

  • Andrew on August 13, 2012, 0:06 GMT

    @threeslipsandagully - total garbage! If YOU had bothered to do an ounce of research YOU would realise that there is nothing similar about Rankin & Cooper other than they play for Associate countries at International level. Rankin retired for a number of reasons, primarily because the professional nature of County cricket offerred more security than Irish county cricket does. No DIRECT reason to bag England however there are plenty of underlying issues, such as the lure of Tests no doubt stoked by Lions appearances. Cooper is Oz born & bred. Rankin is Irish born & bred. Cooper has played ALL of his cricket in Oz & only in the last 2 years thru loose heritage rules, started playing for the Netherlands. The A team stint for Cooper will not preclude him from playing for Netherlands in future. @Lees_Legends - I think you'll find that Rankin DOES NOT have to wait 4 yrs. Morgan didn't & pretty sure Joyce didn't.

  • Dummy4 on August 12, 2012, 10:15 GMT

    ''In the longer term, though, the continued leaking of talent from Ireland is an issue that only the ICC can stop. Rankin is a symptom of a problem without an easy solution and another example of Ireland being a victim of their own success.''

    This says it all, if we weren't pushing so close with our success. We wouldn't be noticed as much either...

  • Gavin on August 12, 2012, 6:23 GMT

    Bit of a silly thing to do. By the time he'll be eligible for England he would be 32. Hardly the optimum age for a fast bowler to begin a test career. He'd have more of a chance playing test cricket for Ireland then England

  • Usman on August 11, 2012, 21:29 GMT

    It would be a big blow for Ireland but they are a tenacious bunch and with some time they`ll sort themselves out...Looking forward for a good Ireland performance in the coming T20 World Cup...Good Look to Rankin for his aspirations as test cricket is beyond a doubt the pinnacle of this game we call 'Cricket'

  • Charles on August 11, 2012, 19:35 GMT

    @Matty Meharg If you'd bothered to read the article and the one that preceded it you'd notice that Rankin chose to retire from Irish cricket of his own accord, England did not "take" anyone. Why is this unacceptable but it's fine for Tom Cooper to play for Australia A despite being a mainstay in the Netherlands team? As I said on the comments for the other story, I think this is a poor move on Rankin's part; I can't see him playing too much for England if at all.

  • Dummy4 on August 11, 2012, 18:47 GMT

    Only one word for Boyd 'Selfish'

  • Cricinfouser on August 11, 2012, 17:48 GMT

    @Matty Meharg - the fact that Ireland may be better than a very poor Bangladesh side is a pretty weak argument for granting them test status. Ireland needs a proper domestic structure, not edicts from the ICC banning their players from earning a decent living from the sport.

  • Dummy4 on August 11, 2012, 16:58 GMT

    @Matty Meharg...HAHA mate you need to follow Cricket because recently Bangladesh whitewashed Ireland in Ireland 3-0 plus beat them at last years World Cup and have a better overall head to head record even Zimbabwe have a better head to head record than Ireland then please explain to me how Ireland is better then these two when these facts go against it? Thought So! :)

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