The 34-year-old departs Edgbaston after a Bears career that saw him lift every trophy available.
Boyd Rankin has departed Warwickshire after more than a decade but regards himself as “really lucky and privileged” to have spent the majority of his playing career at Edgbaston.
Fast-bowler Rankin left the Bears at the end of 2018 and has signed a central-contract with Ireland, for whom he is in for a busy year including their inaugural Test match against England, at Lord’s in July.
As they say, once a Bear, always a Bear.Boyd Rankin
But the 34-year-old reflects upon his time at Warwickshire with enormous pleasure and pride,
“I have absolutely loved it,” he said. “I have been really lucky to spend 15 years in county cricket and 11 at Warwickshire.
“It was with the Bears that my career really took off. When I came to England I was all over the place. I was unfit and didn’t really understand what was needed to be a professional cricketer. Mike Hendrick, at Derbyshire, got me moving in the right direction and then I joined the Bears and I owe the bowling coaches I worked with there so much – Allan Donald when I arrived, then Pop Welch, Alan Richardson and Pop again.
“It has been brilliant to play on the world stage for ten years and they take a lot of credit for that. I would never have dreamed that I would play for England in all formats.”
Rankin joined the Bears from Derbyshire in 2008 and made his debut at home to Essex late that season- his first wicket for the club, soon-to-be team-mate Varun Chopra, caught by Darren Maddy in the slips. He went on to be part of the seam-unit that powered the club to the county championship title in 2012 and also played a huge role in bringing the NatWestT20Blast trophy to Birmingham two years later.
“I arrived after the club had just had a really bad season and it was great to be part of the rebuilding process,” Rankin said. “In 2010 we performed the great escape, winning four of the last five games to stay in the championship Division One, and that was a massive turning point. In 2011 we almost won the title and in 2012 we did win it. I feel very privileged to have been part of that squad amongst such good players – and good mates.”
Rankin’s standout day as a Bear followed on Finals Day in 2014 when Dougie Brown’s side lifted the trophy at the end of a pulsating day at Edgbaston. The 6ft 8in paceman played a pivotal role in the triumph, harvesting figures of 4-0-26-0 against Surrey in the semi-final and 4-0-21-2, including the huge wickets of Ashwell Prince and Usman Khawaja, against Lancashire in the final.
“I was most happy with the 0 for 26 because Surrey had started really well and then I came on about the fifth or sixth over and we reined them in,” he said. “We had really good plans in the tournament that year and it worked out perfectly. I remember Ateeq Javid getting Kevin Pietersen out with his first ball and that was massive. Teeqy was always a bit under-rated. He stayed under the radar but made so many valuable contributions with bat and ball.
“It was a fantastic day. When the second semi-final was on I went home and watched it on the TV, doing a few stretches. It was really good to get home and chill out for a while. Then we managed to win the final and the atmosphere in the ground was incredible. It was a special day – and a great night!”
Rankin might have just become the newest recruit to the ranks of Former Bears but there are plenty more miles in his legs yet. He is one of 19 in the first batch of centrally-contracted Ireland players and will soon be heading for Oman for the first instalment of a busy 2019 itinerary for his country.
He will be no stranger to the Bears though. With girlfriend Anna working alongside studying interior design in Birmingham, he will be based in the Second City for at least another year – and no doubt be visiting his old team-mates from time to time.
“I was sad to leave the Bears,” he said. “They decided the squad should move on without me but there are no hard feelings. I still feel that I have two or three years cricket left in me and these are very exciting times for Irish cricket with us just having got full international status.
“I will definitely be back at Edgbaston from time to time and will always want the Bears to do well. I have so many happy memories of my time there. The Bears fans are brilliant. They are true supporters who always want to see their team do well and they were always great to me.
“I would like to think they see me as someone who always gave everything for the team. I can’t thank them enough for the way they have made me feel at home and I will never forget that. As they say, once a Bear, always a Bear.”