Boyd Rankin, the former Ireland and England seamer, has announced his retirement from international and inter-provincial cricket. Rankin made his Ireland debut in 2003, and won the last of his 153 caps in a T20I against Afghanistan in Greater Noida last year.
In between the 6ft 8in seamer also played for England, winning a Test call on the 2013-14 Ashes tour, to go with seven ODI and two T20I appearances. Rankin returned to Ireland in time to play in their maiden outing as a Test nation, against Pakistan at Malahide in 2018, claiming their first Test wicket in the same match – and becoming only the 15th man to represent two countries in Tests.
Rankin was part of the Ireland team that made a memorable impact on both the 2007 and 2011 World Cups, paving the way for Test status in 2017. He also enjoyed a lengthy career in county cricket, winning the County Championship, two one-day cups and the T20 Blast with Warwickshire.
“To retire from international cricket is always a tough call, but I feel now is the right time to step away,” he said. “I have put my heart and soul into playing cricket professionally since 2003 and have loved every minute of it. I never dreamt I would play for Ireland as much as I did and to travel the world playing in numerous World Cups and to pull on the Irish jersey is something I will never forget.
“To have also a long career in county cricket especially during my 11-year stint with Warwickshire where we won the County Championship, 50-over competition twice and the T20 Blast in 2014 was very special and something I am very grateful for. I always strived to be the best player I could be and to play at the highest level possible, so to make my Test debut for England during a time when Ireland wasn’t a Test-playing nation was a very proud moment. I will miss all the guys I played alongside the most and enjoying the wins we had along the way.”
Rankin first played for Ireland near the start of their journey in Associate cricket, featuring in the famous wins over Pakistan and Bangladesh at the 2007 World Cup, and also against England in the 2011 tournament, when Ireland chased down 328 in Bengaluru.
He switched allegiances soon after, hoping to play Test cricket, and made his debut in the format in Sydney, at the end of England’s unsuccessful 2013-14 Ashes tour – though his performance was hampered while bowling with an injury. Rankin won a handful of limited-overs caps, too, before returning to Ireland colours ahead of the 2016 World T20. At Malahide two years later, his dismissal of Azhar Ali set Ireland on the way in their journey as a Test nation.
Having played against Ireland, on his ODI debut for England in 2013, Rankin came full circle by featuring in Ireland’s first Test match against their neighbours, at Lord’s in 2019.
“There are many people to thank for helping me on this journey, firstly my parents for introducing me to the game and taking me to practice and games as a kid growing up, and for supporting me throughout my career,” he said. “Also to my partner Anna who has helped and supported me for the last part of my career.
“There are various coaches that have helped me along the way – Brían O’Rourke in my younger years with Ireland underage teams, Mike Hendrick during my time at Derbyshire and Ireland helped me to become the bowler I became, Adi Birrell for giving me the opportunity during the 2007 World Cup, as well as Phil Simmons, John Bracewell and Graham Ford over my Ireland career. Ashley Giles, Dougie Brown, Allan Donald and Graeme Welch also had a massive influence on me at Warwickshire, and I thank them for all their help and guidance. It’s hard to single out individual coaches but all those guys all deserve a mention.”
“My best memories and achievements that stick out for me would be the World Cup wins – in 2007 World Cup beating Pakistan and Bangladesh to put Irish cricket on the world map, and the 2011 win against England. Being part of the team to play Ireland’s first men’s Test match was a special moment, as well as taking Ireland’s first Test wicket.”
“Finally, thank you for the support from everyone involved in Irish cricket – the support has been amazing over the years and to see all the supporters in the stands cheering the boys in green on during games all around the world has been our 12th Man! I hope cricket in Ireland continues to grow and I wish Fordy, Andy and the players well for the future.”
After being released by Warwickshire following the 2018 season, Rankin signed for North-West Warriors in his home country, and helped Ireland to qualify for another T20 World Cup at the qualifying event in 2019. Overall, in full internationals for Ireland, Rankin claimed seven Test wickets, 96 in ODIs and 54 in T20Is.
Graham Ford, Ireland’s head coach, said: “Unfortunately Father Time catches up with all cricketers. Sadly it is now Boyd’s time, but he can be so proud of his brilliant career and all of what he has achieved in the game. During my involvement with Cricket Ireland, he has been an ultimate professional, shown great courage while bowling through body niggles and put in many high impact performances. I sincerely wish him a highly successful and exciting next life chapter.”
Rankin was due to be involved one final time for North-West Warriors on his home ground at Bready, but Friday’s game was abandoned without a ball being bowled.
Richard Holdsworth, Cricket Ireland’s performance director, added: “On behalf of the management and staff of Cricket Ireland I’d like to thank Boyd for his many years of service to Irish cricket. While Irish cricket fans will have many memories of Boyd in action, certainly the proudest moment for me was when he induced an edge from Azhar Ali that flew to William Porterfield to claim Ireland men’s first-ever Test wicket. The excitement on the face of Boyd said it all, and showed how much playing for Ireland meant to him.
“Boyd should rightly be proud of a stellar career that saw him play at the highest levels of the game for so long and as the stats show, he was getting better with age. He has played a part in many legendary matches for the boys in green, and he was always a professional yet highly personable player to work with.
“We all wish Boyd well in his next steps and know that he will continue to actively support the lads from the other side of the fence.”