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Boyd Rankin treats England v Ireland as a 'special occasion'

Boyd Rankin treats England v Ireland as a 'special occasion'
Boyd Rankin treats England v Ireland as a 'special occasion'
©Cricket Ireland

As Ireland Men prepare to take on England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) at 5am on Wednesday morning, former Ireland (and England) fast bowler, Boyd Rankin, gave his insights about the on-field rivalry.

The 6’8” Bready man played for Ireland in the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 - until last Friday, that was the last and only previous time that Ireland had progressed past the First Round of this tournament.

Asked about the significance of Friday’s victory over the West Indies, Rankin said:

“It’s massive from a Cricket Ireland point of view and hopefully the start of a new era for this relatively young squad. This is only the second time in seven attempts that we’ve qualified which highlights the scale of the achievement. The fact that a lot of our competitors are entirely focused on T20I cricket these days only adds to it.”

Reflecting on the Ireland versus England on-field rivalry, he said:

“Any Ireland against England fixture is special. I think it’s that connection of being so close to one another, old rivals, and there’s obviously a whole history between the two countries. It’s a special fixture to be a part of, and hopefully, we can put up a good show. They’re playing good T20I cricket right now, but we’ve shown in the past that we can beat them and there’s no reason why we can’t do so again this week.

“Perhaps not our younger players, but a few guys in our squad will have come up against these guys in county cricket quite regularly. There should be nothing to fear.”

Despite playing a behind-closed-doors warm-up match against Namibia at the MCG a few weeks ago, this will be the first time many of the Ireland squad will have played at the famous venue in a competitive match. Rankin, who played in an ODI for England at the MCG in 2014, believes the ground has a special atmosphere which the players should enjoy:

“That game is a fond cricketing memory. It’s an historic ground with a brilliant atmosphere. I watched the India versus Pakistan game on the TV over the weekend and the atmosphere was unreal. Hopefully, we can get something similar on Wednesday. It’s about taking it all in and enjoying the atmosphere because these experiences don’t come around very often.

“At the same time, it’s just another game of cricket. You have to go out and do what you’ve been doing, and you just have to back your skills on the day.

“I’ve been impressed with how our bowlers have gone about their business over the past few games - they’ve been switched on and bowled with clear plans, so I wouldn’t say they need to do anything different. I think Heinrich [Malan], Eagy [Ryan Eagleson] and the support staff have put a lot of faith in the bowlers, and the bowlers have largely responded in kind.”

The Ireland versus England match, which starts at 5am (Ireland time) on Wednesday, will be broadcast on Sky Sports.

Stats and facts about a 170-year rivalry

  • An Ireland team first played a “Gentlemen of England” side in 1855, although neither side which played at the Phoenix Park could be described as representative of either nation. Five of the English side lived in Ireland, and most were called in when original selections, including two of the Walker brothers of Middlesex, cried off. The Ireland team, who won by 107 runs, included one professional, Peter Doyle, and a mixture of army and club players.
  • Ireland played its maiden Men’s One-Day International in 2006 against England, where brothers Ed and Dominick Joyce made their debuts on opposite sides.
  • Boyd Rankin and Eoin Morgan claimed their best international performances up to that point during England’s tour to Ireland in 2013. However, Rankin’s 4-46 and Morgan’s unbeaten 124 were both for England, who won an exciting contest at Malahide by six wickets.
  • Ireland Men’s only previous T20I against England took place at The Providence Stadium in Guyana in 2010, where Ireland was 14-1 in the fourth over chasing 121 before rain ruled out any further play. Rankin played in that match taking 2-25 from his 4 overs. Ireland was knocked out in the First Round while England progressed, ultimately going on to win the tournament.
  • What many fans proclaim as Ireland’s greatest cricket hour came in the steamy heat of the Indian city of Bangalore. England were in complete control of the 2011 Cricket World Cup match between the two sides, scoring 327 - a total that had never been chased before at a World Cup. Ireland fell to 111-5 soon after Kevin O’Brien came to the wicket. With total abandon, he hit a century in 50 balls, still the fastest ever at a World Cup. With crucial support from Alex Cusack and John Mooney, he led Ireland to a sensational victory in the final over.
  • Eight male cricketers born in the island of Ireland have represented England. This includes Leland Hone, Sir Tim O'Brien, Frederick Fane, Ed Joyce, Eoin Morgan, Joseph McMaster, Martin McCague, and Boyd Rankin