Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 1st day

Rankin 'cramp' raises fitness concerns

George Dobell at the SCG

January 3, 2014

Comments: 33 | Text size: A | A

Boyd Rankin left the field for a second time after one delivery on his return, Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 1st day, January 3, 2014
Boyd Rankin leaves the field for a second time on the opening day at the SCG © Getty Images

Mystery surrounded the fitness of Boyd Rankin following the first day's play in Sydney after the fast bowler was twice forced from the pitch on his first day as a Test cricketer.

Rankin, who retired from Irish cricket at the end of the 2012 to concentrate on playing Test cricket for England, appeared to have suffered a hamstring strain after bowling the first delivery of his ninth over but, after leaving the field for treatment, was able to resume about 90 minutes later. He then managed just one more delivery before a recurrence of the problem forced him off again in obvious pain and clutching his left hamstring.

But after a scan showed no injury, the England camp claimed Rankin had simply been suffering from cramp and should be fit to resume bowling duties in the second innings.

Such a scenario would raise questions about Rankin's physical condition going into the game. While the weather in Sydney was warm - it reached 27 degrees at one stage in the afternoon - it was some way below the extremes experienced in Perth or in Alice Springs.

It is possible that nerves could have played a part. The 29-year-old Rankin has endured a long journey to the Test environment and knows, coming into a struggling team at the end of a series, that he may not enjoy many opportunities to prove his worth at this level. A somewhat shy, quietly spoken man from a rural background, it is also possible that tension played a part, or that the pain has some psychosomatic origin. He has been known to experience similar problems with his left foot after suffering from a stress fracture in it several years ago.

The schedule may also be relevant. While Rankin has bowled almost every day in the nets, he has not played a match since the end of November, when he delivered 14.5 overs during the game in Alice Springs. It may be that he came into this game simply lacking match fitness.

While Rankin was monitored by the England medical team ahead of play after reporting general stiffness, there was no specific concern about his hamstring and he was subsequently cleared to play.

Rankin was one of three tall fast bowlers included in the England squad for this series. But despite great expectations when the tour started, none of Steven Finn, Chris Tremlett or Rankin will look back on the trip with much joy. While Tremlett played in Brisbane, Finn has failed to break into the team and Rankin's debut has so far not gone as he would have envisaged. It would take him two years, from the moment of his last England appearance, to re-qualify for Ireland if he ever chose to do so.

Rankin has gained a reputation as one of the most hostile bowlers in county cricket over recent years. While a succession of injury problems have at times delayed his development, he has benefited from greater fitness and strength over recent years and was praised by Marcus Trescothick as being as good a fast bowler as he faced in the 2011 season.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (January 4, 2014, 8:36 GMT)

Finn should have played all 5 tests. He's the best and quickest bowler we've got. 90 Test wickets at 29!

Posted by   on (January 4, 2014, 8:33 GMT)

Mambo man - he thought about qualifying for Oz but they were the worst team in world cricket when he was qualifying

Posted by applethief on (January 4, 2014, 8:06 GMT)

@RednWhiteArmy Yep, it's really £unny indeed.

Posted by blenheimfs on (January 4, 2014, 5:22 GMT)

Most folk watching county cricket last year could have told you that Tremlett was a pale shadow of his 2011 Ashes self and that Onions was the better bowler for this trip. Peakfan, whilst I would support you completely over the more "compact" bowlers such as Larwood, Trueman & Marshall, it is difficult to argue with the records of bowlers such as Ambrose, Walsh, Garner, Patterson, and Croft ! Have just watched Rankin's first over of the second innings. The poor chap is down in pace by between 5 -8mph and has no confidence whatsoever. As someone else suggested, the "bit-part" players could have been kept fit in Grade cricket. Poor selection, poor management and poor execution.

Posted by Gaswell on (January 4, 2014, 3:58 GMT)

Finn should have played in every test. At least then England could have thrown back some hostility back at Australia instead of producing on of the most limp wrested and pathetic performances i have seen in an Ashes contest in decades. This has been pathetic. No fight at all. No shame in losing but there is much shame in losing with out putting up a fight. The selectors and senior players should line up and publicly apologise to Stokes and Australian and English cricket fans for their lack of heart, courage and effort.

Posted by indicricket on (January 4, 2014, 3:56 GMT)

England has their hands everybody else's cookie jar ....and still

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (January 4, 2014, 3:14 GMT)

Yep, its funny how everyone wants to play for England, isnt it?

Posted by mamboman on (January 4, 2014, 1:00 GMT)

If he was going to give up playing for Ireland for a shot at Test Cricket, why didn't he try to qualify for a better team than England? Shows a marked lack of ambition.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (January 3, 2014, 22:54 GMT)

Perhaps the selectors should consider a players fitness record over a period of time before selecting them for tours like this,as well as not take players recovering from injuries such as Bresnan. It never works. This side was,unlike most of Miller's, an appalling chapter of misselections and an invitations to disaster; further in selecting for each match thr seleections have reverted to 1990's type and with that the style of cricket played has gone back. Three new faces for this game is 2 too many.

Posted by heathrf1974 on (January 3, 2014, 22:39 GMT)

Players on the sidelines during tours should be playing grade cricket to keep them match fit.

Posted by Peakfan on (January 3, 2014, 22:29 GMT)

I agree over the poor squad selection - Tremlett and Rankin, while worthy bowlers, aren't in the same league as Onions. That's not being wise after the event, I actually said it at the time on the Peakfan blog. It's unsurprising that players of the height of Rankin and Tremlett have more than their share of injuries though as the strain on long hamstrings and backs will be considerable. The consolation is that two players given their start by Derbyshire have made Test debuts. I suspect Ballance will be around for a long time, though I'm less sure if Rankin's fragile body will allow him to become an international regular at his age. I just hope that cricket doesn't become obsessed with fast bowlers having to be tall - there's plenty of examples in the game's history of smaller bowlers being equally good - Larwood, Marshall and Trueman being classic examples

Posted by   on (January 3, 2014, 22:29 GMT)

I think if you bother to do some research on the subject, muscle cramps have little-or-nothing to do with fitness. They are caused due to an imbalance of salts ("electrolytes"), which can at times be attributed to dehydration (hence the association with heat). Rankin certainly did not look the hostile presence he's been made out to be when he was trundling them down at 136 kph.

Posted by   on (January 3, 2014, 20:48 GMT)

Typical England.. poaching players left right and center.. No wonder Karma gets them every time ...

Posted by   on (January 3, 2014, 20:34 GMT)

Simple...Rankin hasn't played proper first class cricket for weeks and it makes no difference how manynet sessions or gym sessions he's had. His bowling muscles are not accustomed to the hard slog of a test match. Simple,

Posted by   on (January 3, 2014, 20:15 GMT)

Tremlett was tried first test, and bowled some medium paced deliveries and was duly punted to one side, Bresnan was rushed back FAR too early to be effective and rested, now Boyd Rankin, a bowler with no particularly devastating history in the CCC has been tried. Just how bady is Finn bowling at the moment to have not been picked for a single match!?!

Posted by PACERONE on (January 3, 2014, 18:59 GMT)

Soon it will be an England team with not one player born in England.Rankin should of stayed with Ireland and try helping them get Test status.

Posted by InsideHedge on (January 3, 2014, 17:24 GMT)

Most ppl writing here about Rankin know very little about him. Truth be told, he's rarely managed two consecutive four day county matches for Warwickshire, the man is perennially injured. Typically, he reports a pre-season injury around April; after a slow rehab, some 2nd X1 games later he makes a belated return a 1/3 of a way into the county season. A couple of games later he's injured again.

Warwickshire use him as a 2nd change bowler so it was a surprise to see him open the bowling - and successfully - for England in the ODIs. The author correctly describes Boyd as a nice, quiet guy. Everyone agrees it'll be nice to see him take a bagful in the 2nd inns.

Posted by   on (January 3, 2014, 16:46 GMT)

I did not think that Andy Flower would panic but he did by playing Rankin. Really what is it with the England management team? It seems as if they have gone off their senses. Anyone of the total British and Irish population under the age of 50 can be called up for action had there been more tests, fit or unfit!

Posted by The_Millinator on (January 3, 2014, 15:50 GMT)

I do wish that Big Boyd was still playing for Ireland, but hopefully he'll recover his fitness in time for a five-for on debut in the second innings! He deserves his chance, he's a much better option than Tremlett and Finn has been given many opportunities and hasn't taken them.

Posted by YL89 on (January 3, 2014, 13:43 GMT)

Very, very strange one this. Cramping up after eight overs on the first day of the match in temperatures in the mid twenties would show a remarkable lack of fitness. Looked very much like a hamstring strain. English medical team trying to cover themselves after sending him out to bowl again only to see him break down after one ball?

Posted by   on (January 3, 2014, 13:20 GMT)

I'm with Omar - Boyd Rankin has sacrificed the opportunity to play in what will probably be his final World Cup for Ireland to test himself in the games highest form, which he obviously required he change country. He's been consistently overlooked this tour and when he does get his chance he doesn't perform to his capabilities and even worse gets injured.

I'm an Australian but I really do hope he gets up for the second innings and gets a bag.

Posted by electric_loco_WAP4 on (January 3, 2014, 12:57 GMT)

Isn't going to get any better though as a certain Warner after missing out today -an useful delivery- will be looking to take toll of weak Eng attack to put a final stamp on a dominant series in 2nd inngs.For all Eng's troubles get in pacer from Ireland.

Posted by real_gone_gadd on (January 3, 2014, 12:50 GMT)

Feel sorry for him personally, but you do have to ask why he's unfit after England went out on a limb to give him a debut here. This tour is ending as a shambles. Hope Rankin gets another chance in 2014 when he's fit.

Posted by   on (January 3, 2014, 12:07 GMT)

The obsession with very tall qucks has been shown up as one of the big failures of this disasterous tour. How they could not take Onions is beyond me, and Jordan should have gone as well - with one tall quick, not three. But the biggest worry is how the likes of Finn and Rankin seem to have lost rythm and pace while under the supervision of the England coaching setup.

Posted by   on (January 3, 2014, 11:57 GMT)

If it was known that Rankin has a dodgy temperament why on earth was he selected? A one test wonder if ever I've seen one. Playing Borthwick as well smacks of desperation. If Ballance does have problems against the short ball as reported then England are deep in the mire. A total shambles and England are getting all they deserve.

Posted by   on (January 3, 2014, 11:21 GMT)

I'm with Finn too. A mystery why he hasn't played. Rankin should have been left to help Irish cricket. Was never going to be an England regular and now he's out of the Irish set up too..very sad

Posted by   on (January 3, 2014, 11:13 GMT)

disappointed with rankin today. he bowled with such hostility at county reaching 145kph and quick bounce through today all his balls that werent full tosses bounced through slowly and under 130kph which really doesnt attract that much bounce no matter how tall. i do hope he comes back second innings and shows to the world what he is capable of

Posted by Stevros3 on (January 3, 2014, 9:54 GMT)

I don't mind Rankin being picked, he consistently showed in the warm up games he's the most economical of the quicks and that's something England have failed to do so far this series is keep the scoring rate down, so I don't mind him being given a shot. The should have gambled on at least him or Finn earlier in the tour when it was still alive in Perth. What I do disagree with is that a player reporting a potential injury before a dead rubber match still being picked. As much as they might not want to lose the match, they have a very similar alternative in Finn, and the match is a dead rubber. They now could potentially face injuring/bowling into the ground either Broad or Anderson, because as well as Stokes bowled he's still a fourth seamer who's inexperienced and liable to throw the odd 4 ball down, and a debutant spinner who is unlikely to be able to bowl large numbers of overs economically. Selection policy is a joke, finally selected a tall quick but they knew he was injured...

Posted by CodandChips on (January 3, 2014, 9:52 GMT)

Should not have come on the tour with Tremlett over county performers like Jordan and Onions. Simple.

Posted by   on (January 3, 2014, 9:47 GMT)

One really has to feel for Boyd Rankin. He was in good form in the ODIs before the Australian tour. He left Ireland aspiring to be a Test cricketer, and to have the wheels come off at the moment of truth must be really hard to take in.

Hope he comes back strong during the second innings.

Posted by MarkTaffin on (January 3, 2014, 9:46 GMT)

With the machinations going on behind the scenes who know if Rankin was 100% fit before had or just forced to play as part of a desire by the selectors to get this team out on the pitch?

Besides, he didn't look much quicker than Tremlett, and without Tremlett's skill or experience...

Posted by cricketcricket1987 on (January 3, 2014, 9:26 GMT)

Not sure why they didn't play Finn, he's obviously the guy to take the attack forward.

Posted by   on (January 3, 2014, 9:14 GMT)

cometh the hour cometh the man and if you don't perform your out and unlikely to get another chance.

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