Irish cricket has been handed an early Christmas present with the news that Boyd Rankin has confirmed his return to international cricket.
Rankin met last week with Cricket Ireland to seal the deal which will see him available for Ireland's upcoming ICC InterContinental Cup clash with Papua New Guinea in Australia and the ICC World Twenty20 in India in March.
"I'm delighted to be returning to Irish cricket, where I was born and learned the game," said the County Tyrone man. "I'll always be grateful to England for the chance to play Test cricket, but with little opportunities in the last two years, I felt it was time to move on at this stage of my career.
"There's a real opportunity for Ireland to get Test status now, and that prospect was a real lure for me - I'd love to be part of history. Before that of course there's a T20 World Cup in India - I've played in three before with Ireland and it'd be great to make it four.
"I've also very happy memories of both the 2007 and 2011 50 over World Cups in the West Indies and India, and I'd like to make it a hat-trick of appearances in 2019 in England."
Cricket Ireland Performance Director Richard Holdsworth was clearly delighted to have Boyd back in the Irish set-up. "It's fantastic news for Irish cricket to have a bowler of his undoubted quality back in the fold.
"We've had a number of retirements in recent times, losing quality and proven performers such as Trent Johnston and John Mooney. That has severely depleted our quick bowling stocks so to have Boyd returning gives everyone a tremendous boost.
"His height and the extra bounce he generates makes him such a difficult proposition for opponents, and it gives skipper William Porterfield a fantastic extra option in his armoury.
Holdsworth paid tribute to Rankin's county Warwickshire, who proved very supportive and co-operative during the process.
"Warwickshire and Dougie Brown in particular have been very helpful during the negotiations and we'd like to thank them for all their help. We will work closely with them during the seasons ahead to make sure Boyd's workload is carefully managed and both they and ourselves get the best out of him during what I'm certain will be the most productive years of his career."
The 31 year-old made the last of his 82 appearances for Ireland during the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, before making the switch to England.
He took 112 wickets at an average of 24.12, being Ireland's leading wicket taker in the 2007 World Cup where AB De Villiers, Michael Vaughan, Younis Khan, and Stephen Fleming were among his 12 victims.
Rankin appeared for England 11 times between 2013 and 2014, playing in one Test match - against Australia in the 2013/14 Ashes series - three T20I's and seven ODI's.
His last appearance for England came on January 17 2014, making him eligible under the current ICC regulations to play for Ireland again on January 18th 2016.
Ireland play Papua New Guinea in Townsville, Australia in the 3rd round of the InterContinental Cup from January 31-February 3. They are currently top of the table with a maximum 40 points from their wins against the UAE and Namibia.
They have been drawn in Group A along with The Netherlands, Oman and Bangladesh in round one of the ICC World Twenty20 which gets under way in India in March. If they win the group they will proceed to the Super Ten phase where they will play India, Pakistan, New Zealand and Australia.