Having made his Test debut for England back in January 2014, Boyd Rankin, the Ireland fast bowler, admits that it will be strange lining up against some of his former team-mates in the one-off Test beginning Wednesday, 24 July, at Lord's.
Rankin is a part of a unique group of cricketers who have played Test cricket for two different countries – a list that also features the likes of Billy Murdoch, who led Australia during their 1882 tour, which gave rise to The Ashes, former India captain Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi and former South Africa skipper Kepler Wessels. As he takes the field on Wednesday, he will become the only cricketer to play for and against England in Tests after Pataudi.
The Londonderry-born cricketer admitted that it will be strange lining up against England, given his familiarity with their players and the set-up. "It's going to be pretty strange for me because I know their guys so well," Rankin said. "It is a dream come true and it is something I never thought would happen in my playing career."
It is a dream come true and it is something I never thought would happen in my playing career.
Rankin's Test debut, against Australia in the final Test of the 2013-14 Ashes in Sydney, was as forgettable as England's overall series: they were whitewashed 5-0, losing their No.1 Test ranking. Having injured his shoulder earlier, Rankin could bowl only 20.5 overs in both innings combined, finishing with the sole wicket of Peter Siddle. Recalling the game, Rankin admitted that he shouldn't have played given his injury, but recognises the moment as a big part of his career.
“I hurt my shoulder a few days before the Test and I wasn’t fully fit going into the game,” Rankin said. “I felt I had to give it a go. It was one of those that I didn’t know how bad it was until I got back home. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have played, but when you get an opportunity to play Test cricket, it is one you want to take."
“It was a tough tour to start with. I made my debut and it was a blur, to be honest. I have still got my shirts and caps. They will be cherished as that is a big part of where I have been."
"I have no regrets," Rankin continued. "At that stage of my career, there were no real opportunities to play Test cricket for Ireland. That has changed now but at that time I wanted to play at the highest level and representing England was the only way I could do it."
Rankin, who was was a part of the Ireland's historic, record-breaking win over England in the group stage of the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2011, believed that a Test win over England at Lord's would top their 2011 glory.
"Test cricket is Test cricket, it's going to be tough going. It's going to be really warm, a tough four days for us, but if we get a result here, then it is going to be hard to beat that."
Having been awarded Test status in 2017, Ireland have lost their first two Tests, against Pakistan (home) and Afghanistan (away). As the side seeks its first ever win in Test cricket, Rankin is eager to make a decisive impact.
"Everybody is really looking forward to this special time," he said. "It's been a lot of hard work over the last 10 years to try and get to this stage. We all wanted to get to this point, in terms of playing Test cricket. It's great to get that opportunity and to play here at Lord's, that is a dream come true."