Bready’s Boyd Rankin believes the future looks bright for both Irish and North West cricket.
The Warwickshire man, who has rejoined the Ireland squad after four years, feels that a lot of hard work from underage level right through to the senior set-up throughout the country can only but improve the standard of the game.
Rankin, who featured in seven ODIs and two T20 Internationals for England in 2013-14, as well as his one-off Test appearance at Sydney in the final match of an ill-fated Ashes campaign, is delighted to be back amongst friends.
However he also concedes that the ‘new players’ in the current squad have impressed him.
“It was obviously nice having William (Porterfield), who also plays with me at Warwickshire, as our captain so that makes it pretty easy,” he said.
“There’s still a core group of players which I have played with in the past and they are still in the squad at the moment.
“There are a few younger lads that I wouldn’t really know in terms of a cricketing environment like Stuart Thompson and Andy McBrine, but they seem to be really comfortable and I have been really impressed with the younger lads, who are like new faces to me.
“I feel the potential in the squad is good and there’s some really talented players and even in the bowling front we had a few guys come in and train with us, guys like Peter Chase and Barry McCarthy, so there’s healthy competition for places in terms of the bowling.
“Batting wise there’s a good mixture of experience and the youth coming through, so I’m pretty excited with what I have seen and even with our U19 World Cup squad there seems to be a few stars coming through there as well, so I think the future is pretty bright for Irish cricket.
“I feel the future is also bright for the North West as it’s obviously great to see those guys playing well at the U19 World Cup, it shows that there is young talent coming through from the North West and I have been really impressed with the North West guys especially with Andy McBrine.
“I hadn’t see much of him before, even in club cricket, as he hadn’t properly started playing whenever I left, but I have been impressed with the likes of him and I think players like him and Stuarty and Craig means the future is bright for the area.”
The 31-year-old believes the Ireland set-up now is even more professional since he last played for his country.
“I think in terms of the professionalism has gone up another notch since I last played three or four years ago,” he said.
“You can see that they are trying to improve a lot of areas in terms of facilitates, getting the inter pros set-up and at grass roots level they are also working hard, so yeah it’s a working progress but you can definitely see a lot of improvements over the last three or four years.
“There’s obviously an opportunity in terms of test match status down the line and hopefully if we can continue to do well that will lead to more cricket and more full-time cricketers based in Ireland.”
Rankin knows better than most that he and his team-mates need to perform well at this month’s T20 World Cup, just to make life difficult for the ICC, who continue to put obstacles in front of the associate countries.
“The ICC have changed things around a bit and yes it’s obviously making things a bit harder for the likes of the associates to play in these world events,” he said.
“But at the end of the day all we can do is try and concentrate on trying to win games of cricket and if we continue to do that then I think there will be opportunities over the next few years.”
Rankin was delighted that both Cricket Ireland his county side Warwickshire came to an understanding and he could resurrect his international career.
“Warwickshire is my bread and butter as I’m still contracted to them for the next few seasons so I’m obviously concentrating on that but hoping to play as much cricket with Ireland as I can in between,” he confirmed.
“We have this World Cup coming up and we have few ODI’s against a few of the full members, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and then we have a tour to South Africa in September to play Australia and South Africa, so yes there’s a lot of cricket coming up for me and those are games that I will come back in play in.
“I’m looking forward to hopefully helping Warwickshire win a few more trophies and try to win as many games for Ireland as I can.
“There was a lot of discussions behind the scenes between Warwickshire and Cricket Ireland to try and keep everybody happy. It was always something that I wanted to do come back and play for Ireland and give something back.
“I obviously played for Ireland in the past and I felt my opportunities with England were getting less and less so I feel it’s the ideal time for me to come back and play for Ireland again.
“Then it was only a matter of trying to sit down with Cricket Ireland and Warwickshire and come to an agreement and make sure that all parties were happy. I’m obviously thankful that did happen.
“I’m now just focusing on trying to help Ireland in their quest for test status and then obviously all the one day stuff as well. Hopefully I can bring something a little bit different to the team as well and we can go from strength to strength.”