London: Former Ireland fast bowler Boyd Rankin says the chance to play Test cricket lay behind his decision to switch nationalities and play for England. Rankin, who made 52 one-day international appearances for Ireland, changed allegiance last year and, having established himself with county side Warwickshire, the 6ft 8in fast bowler was called into England's ODI squad for the first time earlier this season.
He made his England debut in Tuesday's five-run Twenty20 loss to New Zealand at The Oval and although he ended up on the losing took a wicket with his fourth ball on the way to figures of one for 24. The 28-year-old appears to fit England's model of wanting to field tall fast bowlers and the fact he has been included in the side for this weekend's Ashes warm-up match against Essex suggests the selectors are looking at Rankin as an international bowler for all formats.
If he were to play Test cricket, he'd follow in the footsteps of fellow former Ireland international Eoin Morgan, England's captain on Tuesday and set to lead the side again in Thursday's second and final T20 against New Zealand at The Oval. "I made the switch mainly due to the fact that I want to play Test cricket, which I can't do with Ireland. That is my ultimate aim," Rankin said.
"For me, I feel that is my best form of the game. "I have played quite a lot of T20s and ODIs with Ireland so playing the shorter forms of the game are not new to me. "I just want to reach that peak.
"I've been playing for Ireland since I was a young boy so it was a big decision to make but I thought it was the right move at that stage in my career. "I'm pleased I've been involved a little with the ODI and T20 set-ups and now this four-day game coming up." And he admitted that facing Australia, in the Ashes Test series that starts next month, was something he'd contemplated.
"Yes, I have but I haven't put too much thought into it. "I'm just trying to concentrate on day-in, day-out stuff at the moment. Obviously, it would be a great opportunity. "The ball feels as though it is coming out all right at the moment but I'm just trying to keep my head down and keep working hard.
"Hopefully, the Essex game gives me a chance to impress and see what happens. "It is nice to be included in that and hopefully I can put on a good show and push the guys who have the spots at the moment." Rankin added: "I've been working hard on my fitness. I've lost a bit of weight and gained some strength," he said. "I feel like I'm the fittest I've ever been. Bowling feels easier on the body, whereas a few years ago it felt more like hard work. "I'm pretty pleased where I am."