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Rankin aiming high

Fast bowler Boyd Rankin is setting his sights on the Ashes after making his England debut in the first NatWest Series Twenty20 international against New Zealand.

Rankin quit Ireland last summer, after 52 limited-overs appearances for his home country, to try and fulfil a desire to play Test cricket.

Less than 12 months on, and that ambition is closer to reality.

After being called up to England's one-day international squad for the first time earlier this summer, the 6ft 8in fast bowler was handed his first cap in yesterday's five-run loss.

England's faith in the 28-year-old apparently extends beyond the shorter formats given he was this week also included in the squad for the Ashes warm-up match against Essex, which begins on Sunday.

"I made the switch mainly due to the fact that I want to play Test cricket, which I can't do with Ireland. That is my ultimate aim," he said.

"For me, I feel that is my best form of the game. I have played quite a lot of T20s and ODIs with Ireland so playing the shorter forms of the game are not new to me.

"I just want to reach that peak. I've been playing for Ireland since I was a young boy so it was a big decision to make but I thought it was the right move at that stage in my career.

"I'm pleased I've been involved a little with the ODI and T20 set-ups and now this four-day game coming up."

Rankin did his reputation no harm at the Kia Oval yesterday, taking a wicket with just his fourth ball in England colours en route to returning good figures of 1-24 from his four overs in a high-scoring contest.

He is set to get a second chance to show his wares to selectors in tomorrow's second match before joining up with the likes of Test skipper Alastair Cook and James Anderson in Essex.

Rankin has entertained the thought of playing alongside them at some stage later this year against the Australians, adding: "Yes, I have but I haven't put too much thought into it.

"I'm just trying to concentrate on day-in, day-out stuff at the moment. Obviously, it would be a great opportunity.

"The ball feels as though it is coming out all right at the moment but I'm just trying to keep my head down and keep working hard.

"Hopefully, the Essex game gives me a chance to impress and see what happens. It is nice to be included in that and hopefully I can put on a good show and push the guys who have the spots at the moment."

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