Photo Credit: Sportsfile
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.
In T20I cricket, Rankin played 50 matches claiming 55 T20I wickets at a strike rate of 19.2.
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.