Ireland’s Boyd Rankin insists he has no regrets over playing for England as he prepares for his country’s first Test at Lord’s.
The 35-year-old fast-medium paceman will this week stride out at the home of cricket in just Ireland’s third Test, and their maiden one on English shores.
Rankin will go up against former international team-mates after he turned his back on Ireland to play for England in 2012.
“I have no regrets,” said Rankin on his temporary international switch. “At that stage of my career, there were no real opportunities to play Test cricket for Ireland.
“That has changed now but at that time I wanted to play at the highest level, and representing England was the only way I could do it.”
The 6ft 7ins bowler made just one long-format appearance when featuring in England’s heavy fifth-Test defeat to Australia in Sydney more than five years ago.
After he was subsequently overlooked by England’s senior and Lions’ teams, Rankin gave up hope of a recall and rejoined his native Ireland.
“It was a tough Tour to start with,” recalled Rankin. “I made my debut and it was a blur.
“I hurt my shoulder a few days before the Test and I wasn’t fully fit going into the game. I felt I had to give it a go. It was one of those that I didn’t know how bad it was until I got back home.
“In hindsight, I shouldn’t have played, but when you get an opportunity to play Test cricket it is one you want to take.
“I have still got my England shirts and caps. They will be cherished as that is a big part of where I have been. I am really proud of that. They all go up on the wall alongside my Ireland stuff.”
Rankin made himself available for Ireland again at the end of 2015.
Eighteen months later, Ireland were granted Test status, and have played two matches, against Pakistan in Dublin and away in Afghanistan.
But their four-day meeting against England at Lord’s, a precursor to this summer’s Ashes which starts next Thursday, will be a historic occasion for Rankin and his Ireland team-mates.
“It is a dream come true, and it is something I never thought would happen in my playing career,” added Rankin, looking ahead to the historic clash which gets underway on Wednesday.
“You can’t get much better than a Test match at Lord’s.”