Ireland’s second game in the Super 12 stage of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup will have an extra special edge given the identity of their opponents.
“Any Ireland against England fixture is special,” former international Boyd Rankin said in an interview with Cricket Ireland ahead of the crunch Group 1 match.
Rankin was a member of the Ireland XI that took on England at the 2009 T20 World Cup - the only previous time that the neighbours have met in this tournament.
And while they were beaten on that day, Rankin – who subsequently played one Test, seven ODIs and two T20Is for England – says the current Ireland squad should have nothing to fear from the extra-special fixture.
“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.
“A few guys in our squad will have come up against these guys in county cricket quite regularly. There should be nothing to fear.
“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.”
Ireland’s wins over Scotland and West Indies earned them their spot in the Super 12 stage of an ICC Men’s T20 World Cup for only the second time in their history, and they will be keen to make an impact on the big stage after opening with a heavy loss to Sri Lanka.
“It’s massive from a Cricket Ireland point of view and hopefully the start of a new era for this relatively young squad,” Rankin said.
“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.”
England are among the favourites to win the tournament, and their presence is likely to draw a sizeable crowd in Melbourne.
And while Rankin has urged the players to soak in the atmosphere and enjoy the experience of playing at the MCG, he’s also sent a reminder that the setting doesn’t change the task at hand.
“I watched the India versus Pakistan game on the TV over the weekend and the atmosphere was unreal,” he said. “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.”
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