England in Australia 2013-14 January 9, 2014

Nerves ruined my debut - Rankin

ESPNcricinfo staff

Boyd Rankin has admitted nerves made his Test debut a painful experience and revealed he had suffered a back spasm the night before being handed his cap at the SCG.

Rankin, who ended his Ireland career in an aim to play Test cricket, was twice forced to limp off the ground on the opening day and initially there were fears of a hamstring injury but after a scan it was confirmed as cramp. He was able to bowl in the second innings although still struggled and only managed his first Test wicket with his last ball when Peter Siddle top-edged a pull to bring Australia's second innings to an end.

The match was Rankin's first competitive bowl since the tour match in Alice Springs at the end of November and he believes that could have played a part in his problems. It was put to the ECB during the opening day in Sydney whether there were any injury concerns surrounding Rankin coming into the match because he had been spotted on the ground earlier than his team-mates, but it was explained as just part of his normal routine although it now emerges there was a concern.

"I must admit I didn't sleep that night, with nerves and excitement. It also didn't help that I had a back spasm and so I had to get it checked out on the morning of the game before getting the all-clear to play," Rankin wrote in his column for the Belfast Telegraph.

"It was at lunchtime that I started getting cramp and I was fighting against it through my second spell. I had no problem running around the outfield but as soon as I landed when bowling the first ball of my third spell it seized up. I wanted it to disappear so badly but there was nothing I could do about it.

"I have rarely suffered from cramp in the past, I think the last time was against England at the World Cup in 2007, another big occasion, so I suppose it was down to nerves and tension and, of course, I hadn't played in a match for five weeks.

"My first thought was that I was letting the team down because the other lads had done so well, especially Ben Stokes getting six wickets. So I gave it one more go after tea, but, again, when I landed on bowling I got the same sensation and it was just impossible to keep going, so I spent the rest of the innings in the dressing room.

"Although I managed 12 overs' bowling in the second innings, I never felt 100%. I was still fighting through the cramp and as a result, I didn't really have any rhythm throughout the game and it showed in terms of my speed which was down on where I normally would be."

Rankin has remained in Australia as part of the one-day squad for the series which begins in Melbourne on Sunday and is desperate to ensure his difficult experience in Sydney is not the end of his Test career

"Now that I've got a taste of it, I have the urge to work even harder and play a few more,'' he said. "The first couldn't have gone much worse, having to come off with cramp it was a tough few days. I have learnt so much from those three days in terms of what I want to do if I get another chance."

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  • ESPN on January 11, 2014, 8:01 GMT

    Team for next test Cook, Robson, Root, Bell, Ballance, Bairstow, Prior, Borthwick, Broad, Finn, Anderson

  • ESPN on January 11, 2014, 7:53 GMT

    Omar - not sure how you can call Compton class. He was selected off the back on 1 decent season at Hampshire, his whole career at Middx was poor and he was let go. He scored 2 100s against a weak NZ side. His scoring rate was going down rapidly to. I suggest his attitude was wrong and his ability not enough, thus he was jettisoned.

  • Dummy4 on January 10, 2014, 21:58 GMT

    @Srikumar Narayan, sadly somewhere between 95 and 100% of cricket followers in England couldn't care less about ODI's, particularly after this kind of shambles, so team selection in them is fairly irrelevant...you could pick 11 names, including the press corps and backroom staff, out of a hat for all we care...

  • Dummy4 on January 10, 2014, 13:32 GMT

    England went awefully wrong on selection in all the test matches. Hope they don't repeat hat in he ODIs...

  • Dummy4 on January 10, 2014, 12:39 GMT

    Whatever happened to senior players, skipper and coach having some casual chat and ease the nerve of a debutant when he is going out to play in one of the toughest atmosphere against top opposition! We might never know but England might have lost a bowler who could have taken lot of wickets for them. Not a surprise that english tour was doomed with this leadership group.

  • Kevin on January 10, 2014, 12:30 GMT

    Posted by jmcilhinney on (January 10, 2014, 6:17 GMT) If Rankin suffered from nerves in that Sydney Test then I'm inclined to think that he's not a Test cricketer.


    If it was put to him that it was nerves he should have denied, denied denied it.

    Actually offering it as an excuse then knifing himself in the back with - "I have rarely suffered from cramp in the past, I think the last time was against England at the World Cup in 2007, another big occasion, so I suppose it was down to nerves and tension" -gives the selectors all the info they need to know about his ticker.

  • John on January 10, 2014, 6:17 GMT

    If Rankin suffered from nerves in that Sydney Test then I'm inclined to think that he's not a Test cricketer. There are obviously lots of factors to consider but Rankin is not your average debutant. Rankin is 27 years old and is an experienced international crciket, having played plenty for Ireland. He gave up that Ireland career specifically for the chance to play Test cricket and then, when that chance came, he blew it. Admittedly, coming into the team with them 0-4 down and facing a whitewash in the biggest Test match contest in cricket is not ideal but it's not like England were expecting Rankin to be a saviour. They were as much just giving him a go as asking him to improve the team. If he's can't handle the pressure of a Test debut at his age and with his experience then I'm not sure he's up to it. Unless the selectors are going to start looking at young quicks though, he'll likely get another chance. England need Finn to get his act together.

  • Dummy4 on January 10, 2014, 5:50 GMT

    - The Case for Compton -

    The England team is badly in need of a man of Nick Compton's abilities. Compton can provide the solidity at the top of the order, either as opener, or first drop.

    With Trott out of the picture, and a hungry Compton waiting in the wings, he is the perfect foil to fit in nicely into this squad.

    Bell has failed to make the#3 spot his own. He is better off at #5 if he feels more comfortable there.

    All that will hinder a return to the England side for Compton is Andy Flower.

    Forgive and forget Andy. Please allow Compton back. This England team lacked desire in this Ashes series. And desire is what Compton can offer.

    Two (back-to-back) centuries against New Zealand, one fifty against India, an average of 31.93, and SEVERAL 100+ opening stands with Alastair Cook.

    Wisden Cricketer of the year in 2013, and the recipient of the NBC Denis Compton Award in 2001, 2002, and 2006.

    Surely this man is all class, just like his grandfather was.


  • Vikram on January 10, 2014, 4:32 GMT

    I believe this is where a good captain would make a huge difference - think Clarke, Dhoni, Bailey, ABdV. To encourage them, but still let them know that this is a game that is played for fun. I am sure Rankin would have played much better if Prior were playing in the test. Robocap Cook and Robocop Flower need to do much better.

  • rob on January 9, 2014, 23:06 GMT

    Nerves are a funny thing in sport. Lots of players say you need a few because it keeps you on your toes. .. One of our greatest ever Rugby League players, Alfie Langer, was famous for throwing up before just about every big match. Apparently he used the spend the half hour before kick off with his head in a toilet bowl. .. It sounds debilitating but it didn't stop him getting out there and playing like the absolute genius he was. ... The point is, nerves can be turned around and used to your advantage if you know how to do it. Boyd might learn about that one day and put all this behind him.

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