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Boyd ready for Ashes Test, says Strauss

Irish-born pace bowler Boyd Rankin has made a good impression in limited-overs cricket for England. Picture: PA

Irish-born pace bowler Boyd Rankin has made a good impression in limited-overs cricket for England. Picture: PA

Boyd Rankin has already done enough to convince Andrew Strauss he may be worth a place on England’s Ashes tour this winter.

Rankin, newly qualified for England after five years of international cricket with his native Ireland, was the pick of the home attack against Australia in the sole NatWest Series match so far permitted by the weather.

Former dual Ashes-winning captain Strauss saw plenty there, and even beforehand when Rankin bowled against England on their 2012 tour of the United Arab Emirates, to conclude the 6ft 8in seamer must enter Ashes calculations.

As England headed south from rainy Birmingham for the fourth one-day international, still 1-0 down with two to play, Strauss made it clear he rates Rankin highly.

“He was very impressive,” he said. “I remember when we played against him in a warm-up game in Dubai, and we were all quite impressed by the pace and bounce he generated out there.

“He looks like he’s matured a lot as a bowler. He knows what he’s doing, and he’s an excellent candidate to make use of the conditions in Australia.”

Rankin will have to leapfrog other contenders if he is to be named in the full Test squad, expected to be announced in under two weeks’ time.

But Strauss is confident that, given the chance, the 29-year-old has all the attributes required to make a success of Test cricket.

“It’s hard to get in that England side at the moment. With [James] Anderson and [Stuart)]Broad in particular, there’s only kind of one bowling slot that’s up for grabs occasionally – and even that slot has been very well-filled by both Steven Finn and Tim Bresnan.

“But [Rankin is] going to be in [the selectors’] thoughts. I’m sure there will be long conversations about whether he can make a decisive difference in Australia.”

There may be a few conversations too about another fast bowler – Australia’s back-to-form left-armer Mitchell Johnson, after he bounced out Jonathan Trott in Manchester and then Kevin Pietersen before the rain arrived at Edgbaston.

Strauss said: “He’s a very dangerous bowler. We’ve seen him at his best; in Perth in 2010 he was phenomenal.

“The England players have seen a lot of him, and kind of know how to deal with him. But if it’s his day, and he’s on song, he’s a handful for anyone.”

He certainly was for Trott, twice over, producing a brute of a ball to have him caught behind for a duck at Emirates Old Trafford and then giving the 
No 3 a torrid time in Birmingham too.

Trott’s comparative struggles this summer – he averaged under 30 in the Ashes, compared with a career figure approaching 50 – have not gone unnoticed.

But Strauss expects him to battle back.

“I suppose it looks like Trotty’s fighting with himself a bit at the moment,” he said.

“He’s had a tough summer, by his very high standards. But I’ve seen a lot of Jonathan Trott, as an individual and as a batsman, and he’ll come back strong.”

l Andrew Strauss joined Michael Vaughan on his 500-mile charity bike ride, PruProtect Chance to Ride, in aid of Chance to Shine and Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Readers can sponsor Vaughan at www.chancetoride.co.uk

 

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