England in Australia 2013-14

Nerves ruined my debut - Rankin

ESPNcricinfo staff

January 9, 2014

Comments: 50 | 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 was twice forced off the field on his first day as a Test cricketer © Getty Images

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."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (January 11, 2014, 8:01 GMT)

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

Posted by   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.

Posted by   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...

Posted by   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...

Posted by   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.

Posted by Matt.au 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.

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. 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.

Posted by   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.


Posted by xylo 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.

Posted by dunger.bob 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.

Posted by naidanac on (January 9, 2014, 17:39 GMT)

What ever happened to the teaspoon of salt in a glass of water for an instant cramp cure?

Posted by swervin on (January 9, 2014, 17:30 GMT)

it seems england's recent success has put a lot of pressure on their players - they need to relax a bit because all the other teams will now hone in on the fact they are mentally weak. Yet we all know they are a lot better team than the way they played. I guess the English fans used to accept their team's mediocrity, but now they have tasted some success and have had such a shocking reversal of fortune, the fans have much higher standards.

While i don't mind seeing england struggle, i also fear there is a risk that australia is taking too much away from a series that England found so difficult to back up for after already winning the ashes earlier in the year...I think the key will be whether Trott comes back in any sort of his old form - have long thought he is the rock of their batting order...

Posted by anton1234 on (January 9, 2014, 15:16 GMT)

I think the best way for Finn to play the game is to try and replicate Johnson, rather than simply trying to ball line and length. A combination of short pitched bowling to the body, hitting the deck hard, mixed with some line and length stuff with a bit of swing, is the way forward. He has the physique and pace to try and and become a Johnson type bowler. It would be tempting to make him into a Ryan Harris type, but if something goes slightly wrong with action or run up then his line and length stuff becomes ordinary.

Posted by elsmallo on (January 9, 2014, 15:08 GMT)

He'll get a chance in the ODI's I assume, so good luck to him there. You can't blame him from suffering from nerves - the entire England camp seems to have had them for the duration. Hopefully this experience will stir Rankin on. This concept of going on a tour and playing no cricket outside of nets - the tallest drinks waiters in the world scenario - was fairly awful to watch. Case in point is Steven Finn, whose bowling seems to have gone backwards during his long stint as Team England's drink waiter/carrier pigeon. I saw him at a county game in 2009 where he took nine wickets in an innings and was unplayable. For Pete's sake if they aren't going to be playing any cricket, and the training drills have been exhausted, try to find them somewhere to play a game or two, even if it's just a club game.

Posted by DeckChairand6pack on (January 9, 2014, 15:03 GMT)

I feel sorry for him, he really was up against it considering all that had gone before in the series. Looked like he was carrying a bit of extra pudding and not fit at all. Am I right in thinking that Alistair Cook has absolutely no confidence in Steve Finn? I remember in the home ashes how reluctant Cook was to bowl him. Is Rankin really better than Finn? Or Onions or any of the others?

Tough times ahead for England.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (January 9, 2014, 14:52 GMT)

Incidentally, on Tim Bresnan, he also passed 90mph in India last winter, despite injury. Usually he cuts back his pace, as he did deliberately at Melbourne, because he is expected to bowl long spells, but his faster ball is surprisingly quick.

Over the years, Stuart Broad has consistently clocked 90mph, although he usually bowls mid-to-high 80s most of the time.

I would like to see Boyd Rankin's speeds in the ODIs, where he will usually be expected to bowl short, sharp spells and will probably be bowling with more freedom.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (January 9, 2014, 14:32 GMT)

Well he did look like he had nerves. His action was not like his somewhat better debut in the ODI's when he looked very good. |Hopefully he can revert to that as a default in the upcoming games, because he will offer far more like that. Life can be tough on debut.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (January 9, 2014, 14:23 GMT)

@ electric_loco_WAP4 It's an interesting point of view, but not supported by the numbers. Boyd Rankin's fastest ball was 88.7mph. Stuart Broad bowled England's fastest ball of the series at 91.6mph in the 3rd Test (over 90mph = 144kmh in both innings) and both Ben Stokes and, more surprisingly, Tim Bresnan (90.7mph) passed 90mph. Even Jimmy Anderson reached 89.7mph (faster than Boyd Rankin's fastest ball).

Boyd Rankin was fastest than Chris Tremlett's fastest ball though (84.3 mph).

A lot of people would dispute your assertion that Boyd Rankin is better than Stuart Broad, who was the only English bowler to get close to the Australian trio on results - he is consistently clocked around the 90mph mark.

Posted by   on (January 9, 2014, 14:20 GMT)

Playing your first test match must be a nerve racking experience at the best of times, but if you look at the circumstances of Rankin's debut it was probably a more stressful occasion than most experience, coming in for the final test in a series in which the opposition have been completely dominant, having seen established bowlers like Anderson struggle to have an impact, not having much match practice and sitting on the sidelines for most of the tour etc. I hope the selectors can recognise that this performance isn't indicative of Rankin's potential and that they persevere with him so he can replicate his domestic form at an international level.

Posted by DangaGanga on (January 9, 2014, 14:07 GMT)

he souldnt have been selected in the first place nerves wouldn't have been a problem

Posted by   on (January 9, 2014, 13:16 GMT)

I feel sad for Rankin. But fault lies with selectors. Players should always be selected on form rather than promise/reputation. Yes, few exception can be there, but just few. Let's take a look at few series over last year or 2. India lost to Eng, Aus, plain blanked out never touched 300 and Rahane was sitting on bench all the time. He was in form batsman in domestic cricket (yes, domestic stats can be inflated, but still need some doing to get them as they are). Sachin (part in Eng & Aus) & Dravid (Aus) were still scoring little bit but Sehwag, Gambhir & Laxman didn't scored anything and still kept on playing on reputation. Then RP Singh coming from vacation in Miami, Ha. Then we saw Maxwell and Doherty being selected for India tour without any domestic form/promise. Here, Prior should not have even on the tour. In bowlers all 3 tall were selected on promise none on form. Oops, Tremlett, not even promise. Even Ishant looks better than him. Need I say much..

Posted by   on (January 9, 2014, 13:12 GMT)

Being a former Irish International should have helped!

Posted by 200ondebut on (January 9, 2014, 12:53 GMT)

I feel for him - but his issue and those of his teams mates points to a failing in looking after the mental preparation of players by ECB management.

Confidence is the difference at this level - and stating the bleeding obvious - it was the difference between Australia in England and at home. In cricket confidence is also called "form".

Posted by SirBobJones on (January 9, 2014, 12:29 GMT)

England should have gone back to the old system of taking your best few quicks on an Ashes tour plus a bolter for the experience, e.g. Holdsworth in '93. Onions would have been there, plus Mills could have had a go in a tour match. Bad move taking three huge quicks and using the least appropriate one in the first test, sticking one in the last test with no match practice and a back injury, and not playing the most promising one at all. My team for England's next test would be Cook, Compton, Bell, Pietersen, Root, Stokes, Bairstow, Broad, Borthwick, Onions, Anderson.

Posted by   on (January 9, 2014, 12:14 GMT)

poor lad I do feel for him, those having a go at him should think back to when Tressie stopped his intl cricket due to STRESS attacks and recently abt Trott who left tour due to stress...which brings me to believe that mental conditioning of players is an area England really need to focus on, they have a psychiatrist on hand if needed I think it should be mandatory for England players to be evaluated and given individual programmes with the psychiatrist to build up they mental toughness....

Posted by cloudmess on (January 9, 2014, 11:48 GMT)

Sorry, Boyd, it is no excuse. Either you were fit to play on the day or not. Everyone has to cope with nerves - it was no excuse to bowl absolute bilge when your team needed someone to back up Anderson and Broad. If playing test cricket is such an ordeal, then please give up your tour place to someone who deserves it, and who has a bit more ticker - like Graham Onions.

Posted by electric_loco_WAP4 on (January 9, 2014, 11:42 GMT)

Lets face it Rankin is by far the best and fastest -clocked 140+ when had rythm going- among Eng f/medium seamers and only 1/2 decent 1 at that. Should have led Eng attack from 1st test itself for all 5.Wont have changed the final series score though! -:)

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (January 9, 2014, 11:36 GMT)

@Nutcutlet I too would go for Chris Jordan over someone like Tymal Mills, provided he has a good start to the season.

You have not included Sam Robson. Right now I would have him as an opener instead of Root, but I can only see 3 certainties for Sri Lanka (Broad, Stokes & Bell). A lot of the others are going to need some good early season county form and I can certainly see the possibility that Cook, Root & Anderson could be asked to sit out the series and play for their counties instead to build up some form and confidence in a less pressurized environment and recover their spark by having some fun for a change while playing.

Boyd Rankin will continue to play ODIs and keep his name in the frame, but he needs to settle the nerves issue and put in a few devastating spells for Warwickshire to show that he is hungry to succeed in Tests.

Posted by   on (January 9, 2014, 11:19 GMT)

This typifies the fact that it is all about psychology, and the England advisers on this were obviously seriously lacking. England's batting, bowling and fielding are as skilful as those of Australia, and we are just as physically fit. Maybe these are marginal, but Australia's performance was 8/10 and ours 3/10 if that. YThe psychology of just beating them in England (with some fortune) and then moviing straight to Australia and losing Trott and four tosses on the trot did not help, of course, which displayed mental/psychological imperfections.

Posted by A.Ak on (January 9, 2014, 11:03 GMT)

It happens only in England team. Never heard anything from other international team about too much stress or leaving in the middle of the series/retire. Whats going on?

Posted by CodandChips on (January 9, 2014, 10:49 GMT)

Wisdom of selecting a guy with no decent first class record at the age of 29 who is largely unproven over county performers such as Onions and Jordan

Posted by Yevghenny on (January 9, 2014, 10:47 GMT)

a batsman gets more opportunities, because if a bowler comes on and his first ball is hit for 4, he is not immediately removed from the rest of the game and only allowed to field thereafter.

Posted by   on (January 9, 2014, 10:44 GMT)

Nerves? He has been playing international cricket for years is 29 years old and has bowled against all of these Australian players in one form of cricket or another. If after all that he still has the jitters then test cricket isnt the place for him.

Posted by ThirteenthMan on (January 9, 2014, 10:36 GMT)

Rankin has always been lively and a wicket taker but has also been wayward. Recent county displays suggest he now has better control. I t would be crazy to drop him just for one difficult match...he wasn't the only player to have problems.

Hopefully he will perform well in some one day matches; that should settle him in.

Posted by itsthewayuplay on (January 9, 2014, 10:35 GMT)

It's harsh that a player who fails to perform on his debut might not get second chance. The door should be closed on any player. Tendulkar took over 80 ODIs before he scored his first century whilst Swann by his own admission had not expected to play for England again after his first tour and both reached the top of their respective disciplines. The only issue as I see it for Rankin is that at his age fast bowlers should be in peak phase of their career. It's generally been the case as far as I can remember going back to the great WI bowlers of the past through to the today's top bowlers eg Steyn, Anderson. Yet the England selectors who chose Rankin and indeed the whole squad for this disastrous tour keep their jobs whilst the knives are out for the players and backroom staff.

Posted by RichardMallender on (January 9, 2014, 10:30 GMT)

Nutcutet - (January 9, 2014, 9:44 GMT) - I agree with you, the selectors should be more careful when making selections. The main point though is, did he deserve to go in the first place? 47 wickets over the last TWO completed English seasons, hardly look like startling stats, particularly when Onions has 145 in the same period! I do feel for the guy, he was thrown into an impossible situation, but in my opinion, cramp or not, he was hopelessly out of his depth and only a huge list of injuries will give him another chance to play again. To me this point is reinforced when you consider the younger bowlers coming through the ranks - Overton, Jordan (as you correctly pointed out), Mills, Topley, Mark Wood and Moin Ashraf.

I also agree with you, that Briggs and Buttler are very talented players and should get an opportunity sooner rather than later.

Posted by TheRisingTeam on (January 9, 2014, 10:00 GMT)

That's no excuse I'm afraid.

Posted by CricketMaan on (January 9, 2014, 9:59 GMT)

This is a batsmans game. If a batsman fail scoring a duck in his first innings due to nerves, he always gets a second, third chance..Marvan Atapattu scored 3 ducks in his first 3 innings, but went to on to score 1000s of runs in Test cricket. A bowler does not have that previlage. If he gets smacked or injured his career is over unless he has a solid backing. Rankin has tough competition and will struggle again to make a comeback unless Andy has seen something very special in him

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

If a new test cap is not nervous that would be unusual.

Gotta be able to cope with the nerves at this level - playing well at test level is more about what goes on in the player's scone than his ability

Posted by Nutcutlet on (January 9, 2014, 9:44 GMT)

2nd post. There is absolutely no reason for Rankin to be regarded as a OneTest Blunder. If he was good enough to be chosen for this tour, then he must be reassured by the selectors that good county form, lots of scalps, good rhythm and genuine pace will put him back into their consideration. If I was a selector, I'd tell BR that his chances of playing Test cricket have not gone away. Selectors and others should never been so casual about a man's career, esp. when they are partly culpable. And the same applies to Simon Kerrigan who never even had a chance to get used to the England set-up before he was pitched in at the Oval. There will be lots of suggestions about the composition of England's next Test v SL in June. I'm going to get in early. Cook, Root, Bell, KP, Ballance, Stokes, Buttler/ Davies, Broad, Jordan, Anderson, Briggs.

Posted by Green_and_Gold on (January 9, 2014, 9:44 GMT)

Very poor selection from England - they had a good starting XI (on paper) however there was no depth in the rest of the squad. I would have expected Onions to be there plus Bresnan was a bonus.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (January 9, 2014, 9:41 GMT)

Agree (partly) with Richard Mallender (post on January 9, 2014, 8:15 GMT) here. Yes Rankin is a nice guy who seemed at home with the England camp in the ODIs, but it's such a huge risk to pick a 'new' player on promise alone for a big test series like the Ashes. Yes Onions has struggled in Australia before, but I'd take form and control over promise and height every time. On saying that, I don't agree that Rankin will add to the list of one-cap wonders... I expect (and don't mind) that he'll be back in upcoming test series. As Biggus says (post on January 9, 2014, 7:56 GMT): the Ashes was pretty much over by the time Rankin took to the field, so expecting him to produce a Tremlett 2010-11 like performance was always going to be folly. Hardly a dream debut by any stretch of the imagination, but Big Boyd will be back and showcase his talents.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (January 9, 2014, 9:39 GMT)

The idea of selecting Boyd Rankin was to have a tall, fast bowler, who would generate awkward bounce at around 90mph. In the Sydney Test though, Rankin was averaging around 84mph in the 1st innings - almost identical to the rest of the seamers. Certainly he was no faster than Stuart Broad who is also a (rather) tall paceman.

Having followed a lot of county cricket, my impression of Boyd Rankin was of a useful, rather than a devastating bowler and I could never quite work out what all the fuss was about. I know that some people rate him very highly but, last season, he did not respond to the speculation about a call-up with the sort of form that I would have hoped for and seeing him crippled with nerves is not a great start. If a bowler gets so nervous that his body packs up, you have to wonder if he should be risked; certainly, England were left very exposed when he left the field so early in the first innings.

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

Anyone who has some ability to empathise will feel for Boyd Rankin. Of course he wanted to do well - make an impact & launch a Test career which has been his aim since he waved goodbye to playing for his native Ireland. In fact, he wanted it so much that it went very wrong and he's been beating himself up (from what can be inferred from this article) ever since. Yet that isn't his fault - nor is it fair to him. The scheduling of the tour had deprived him (along with all those players not identifed as in the Test team) with no match practice. When the bones of this dog's dinner of a tour are picked over, one matter that has to be addressed is the opportunity between Tests for genuine match practice. In cricketing terms an Ashes series is too important to squeeze into six weeks. It deserves more sympathetic scheduling and ideally 3x4-day additional games should have been played; one between Tests 1 & 2, another between 2 & 3, & another between 3 & 4. Only the last two shd be back2 back.

Posted by gsingh7 on (January 9, 2014, 8:20 GMT)

just like nerves ruined kerrigan's debut . and international career in a span of few overs.sometimes players are just not good enough and they must accept their shortcomings and prepare well for future . hope he learns new skills before playing second test. his bowling was medium paced and was asking to be hit. he has time to improve or he will go kerrigan's way.

Posted by   on (January 9, 2014, 8:15 GMT)

Awful selection! Shouldn`t have been on the tour at all let alone playing in the finaltest match. England should have picked the best bowler in the County Championship, Graham Onions, who would have given Cook greater control and supported Broad`s efforts during the series. I think Rankin will almost certainly add to the list of England`s one cap "wonders"... although "wonder" is used in a very loose sense in this situation!

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (January 9, 2014, 8:08 GMT)

Looks like a nice guy, hopefully he comes back. He bowled well in the one dayers in ENG and i was weary of him but they didn't use him early enough.

Posted by Biggus on (January 9, 2014, 7:56 GMT)

It can happen. I remember Chris Matthews doing much the same thing. They should probably give him another crack at home Vs SL or India. The Ashes were well gone by the time he was played and he was on a hiding to nothing.

Posted by sanjeevbiswal1984 on (January 9, 2014, 7:54 GMT)

Like this article..good....

Posted by   on (January 9, 2014, 7:44 GMT)

I like him, came in the team at the wrong time. good luck in the future Boyd!

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