Cricket: Ireland's Test status bid boosted by Rankin return
BOYD RANKIN returns to spearhead the Ireland attack against Bangladesh in Belfast today in the first of three RSA Twenty20 internationals that could send out another strong message to the International Cricket Council.
The big Warwickshire fast bowler, who is on the comeback trail after a foot injury, knows that a convincing victory over Bangladesh in the RSA series will be another step down the road to Ireland's stated ambition of becoming a Test match-playing nation.
"This is an important series for Irish cricket and hopefully I'll be able to play an important part in it," Rankin said.
"We've had some fantastic tussles against them in recent years and these games are likely to be just as close.
"We won nine games in a row to win the World T20 qualifiers in Dubai earlier this year, so there's plenty of confidence in the squad and we're all fit."
Few outside the sub-continent would argue that Ireland have not been a better team than Bangladesh over the past five years, having beaten today's opponents at the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies and again in the 2009 World T20 in England.
Success on the field has not been matched by political manoeuvres off it, however, and Bangladesh have been allowed to get away with a number of tricks designed to underline their 'superior' status -- not least in sending an 'A' team to tour and play Ireland during 2008.
With Ireland's county players available for the three games -- except U-19 captain George Dockrell, who joins the squad tomorrow -- the home side should be able to exploit what is expected to be a green, seaming pitch in the grounds of Stormont Castle.
Today's game starts at 5.0 with free admission for anyone retaining a ticket from last month's rain-affected match against Australia.
The other two games are on Friday (5.0) and Saturday (4.0).
squad in factfile