Boyd Rankin expects the 2018 season to be his last in county cricket—but he is aiming to bow out with some big performances for Warwickshire.

After next year, Rankin and his fellow Ireland team-members will count as overseas players in the county game following Ireland’s acquisition of full member status with the ICC.

we are a full ICC member now and are striving to play Test matches

Boyd Rankin

Out of contract at Edgbaston at the end of next season, fast-bowler Rankin will be 34, and will most likely be ending his time with the Bears anyway. But now back in the Ireland fold after playing ODI and Test cricket for England, he is keen to keep harvesting wickets for a while yet—for his country and, next year, for the county he has represented since 2008.

“Irish players are being filtered out of county cricket which is fair enough, to a degree, because we are a full ICC member now and are striving to play Test matches,” Rankin said. “So next year is probably my last for the Bears and in county cricket.

“It will be a little bit sad because I’ve always given everything for the Bears and have really enjoyed my time here, but hopefully next year we can get back up into the First Division and I can play a big part.

“I have been at Warwickshire for ten years and in county cricket for 14, so I’ve had a pretty good career over here. Growing up in Ireland, I knew if I wanted to play cricket full-time I had to come to England, whereas now the young guys have the opportunity to make it full-time over there.

“I decided to try my luck with England because I wanted to play Test cricket and I was lucky enough to do that, albeit only one Test. I gave it a good shot and felt I could have played a lot more. But I have no regrets and also no regrets about my decision to go back into the Ireland set-up where I played through all the age-groups and hopefully can help people coming through now.

“I hope I’ve still got another three years left as a player and it’s nice to be back in the fold with them again.”

Rankin is in for a busy winter starting with a week’s training in La Manga with Ireland before they face Scotland in Dubai in the Intercontinental Cup. Their winter work will then lead up to a springtime training camp in South Africa ahead of the 2019 World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe in March and April.

These are exciting times for Irish cricket with their first Test match to take place next May, at home (venue to be confirmed) to Pakistan.

“It’s exciting to have a Test next year,” said Rankin. “We’ve been striving for that for the last ten years and have finally managed to get it, but that brings a lot of pressure to perform well; and also, as part of the white-ball set-up, show we are improving. Full Member status will bring more money into the game and that will filter down to the grass roots so we have got to use that and strengthen in all age-groups so that we keep on improving at the top.”