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Irish fast-bowler Boyd Rankin is to retire from playing international cricket for the country of his berth in order to concentrate on his ambition to play Test cricket for England. September’s World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka is likely to be the last time he will appear in Ireland colours.
Ireland coach Phil Simmons paid tribute to Rankin, who has played an integral role as Ireland emerged on the global scene over the past five years, saying "Boyd has been a superb strike bowler for us, particularly in World Cups and qualifying tournaments. Time and time again he took vital early wickets and the new ball partnership he has forged with Trent Johnston has been one of the main reasons for our success since 2007.
"His extra pace and the lift he generates with his height made him a very dangerous proposition for our opponents and none relished facing him. It's obviously a very damaging blow for Ireland, but we've lost players before and bounced back and I'm sure this time will be no exception. His absence will create opportunities for others and I'm certain they will grasp them."
Cricket Ireland Performance Director Richard Holdsworth added, “Cricket Ireland offered Boyd a significantly improved contract to remain an Irish international cricketer, but unfortunately we were unable to compete with the lure of Test Cricket and the financial rewards of being a potential England cricketer. We are naturally very disappointed to lose Boyd, who has performed very well for Ireland on the world stage, but this further loss only strengthens our aim of becoming a Full Member of ICC and ultimately a Test-playing country.
“This will be the third Irish player we have lost to the England cause in just 6 years, notwithstanding Ed Joyce’s return. It is our strong view that we must be given the opportunity very soon to finance a full-time international programme and centrally contract all our players in order to halt this exodus. We were very grateful for ICC’s recent boost to our funding to permit us to implement a domestic first class structure in 2013 and play more international fixtures against the Full Members. However it is becoming increasingly obvious that only an accelerated pathway towards the financial benefits and opportunities afforded to the Full Members, allied to a change in eligibility regulations, will allow us to keep hold of our home-grown developed players, and properly justify the significant investment ICC already makes in its High Performance Programme.”
Rankin’s decision to retire is likely to have been influenced by three factors. One was his ultimate desire to play Test cricket, which, at the age of 28 he is unlikely to be able to do with Ireland. The second was that his county Warwickshire were believed to have put pressure on him to retire from international duty with Ireland because their increasing international commitments meant that they were seeing less and less of him. And thirdly, the amount of cricket he is playing – for Warwickshire, Ireland and the England Lions – meant that he was missing increasing amounts of time through injury because of the heavy workload, something which he touched on when explaining his decision to retire.
He said, "It's been a difficult decision for me but I will be retiring from playing cricket for Ireland after the World T20, as I feel I can't continue to play the amount of cricket I have been playing with Warwickshire, England Lions and Ireland over the last few years. I have genuine ambitions of playing Test cricket and I have to give myself the best chance to do that by reducing my workloads as a fast bowler and concentrating on playing cricket for Warwickshire. It has become increasingly difficult to play for three different sides throughout the year as it leaves me with little time for rest and recovery, which helps reduce my chance of injury.
"I want to say a massive thank you to Cricket Ireland who have supported me throughout my career and I owe them a lot. They have been very understanding in my decision and I know the door is never closed with them."
Since his debut as a 19 year old in 2003, Rankin has played 79 times for Ireland, taking 110 wickets at an average of 24.05, with a best bowling return of 5 for 39 against Namibia in 2008.
He came to prominence during the 2007 World Cup where he was Ireland's leading wicket taker - among his 12 victims were Michael Vaughan, Ed Joyce, Stephen Fleming, Younis Khan, Herschelle Gibbs and AB De Villiers.
© Cricket World 2012
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