Boyd Rankin, Warwickshire’s 6 foot 7 inch giant of a fast bowler, has had an eventful start to the season – of that there can be no doubt. In the first LVCC game at Taunton he only bowled 8 overs and had no wickets to show for his efforts, but then at New Road, Worcester he took 6 for 100 across both innings. At Chester-le-Street he manged a respectable 3 for 98 in the first innings.
The beginning of the Bear’s defence of the CB40 was to prove difficult for Rankin. He opened the bowling with Woakes and his7 overs across the game cost 57 runs – with
14 first class wickets so far this season!
no wickets and a staggering 24 of the last over! By his own admission on twitter he cost the Bears the game. The next CB40 game against Leicestershire only saw him bowl 4 overs – at the cost of 39 runs and again no wickets. Clearly something had to be done, and the morning after the Leicestershire match, when the team to face Scotland was announced, Rankin’s name was absent – replaced by that of Keith Barker.
After beating the Scots, the Bears had one day’s well deserved rest on Tuesday, before they were due to face Lancashire in their first home game in the County Championship yesterday morning.
Did Rankin wonder in his own mind if he would be dropped for this match too? An injury to Andy Miller meant that there was no way he would be left out. Barker came into the team again – this time as Miller’s replacement.
When 11am came yesterday morning Ian Bell took to the field with his Warwickshire team, after losing the toss to his Lancashire opposite number. I, as i’m sure most observers and comentators did, expected Woakes and Rankin to share the new ball. However, it was not to be. Bell had decided to open the bowling with Woakes and Barker instead. Did this come as a surprise to Rankin? Perhaps we shall never know (might tweet him later and see if he answers!)
As it was Barker bowled very tightly, Woakes and Clarke took wickets from the other end and Lancs were 104/4 shortly after lunch. Rankin then took the vital wicket of Moore who was on 67. 129/5 – and Lancs looked in all sorts of trouble. A parternership of 90 followed between Proctor and Cross – before Rankin had proctor caught by Clarke. 219/6. Clarke then bowled Cross – 219/7.
Lancashire had 3 wickets left and stood on the cusp of a poor score or the possibility of Glen Chapple sheparding the tail to get the score to as close to 300 as possible.
Eight runs later Lancashire were all out for 227 – Rankin took 3 wickets in one over!
Rankin finished the day with 5 for 57 – the same as his first innings return at Worcester. But what stood out about yesterday’s performance was the efficent and ruthless dismissal of the Lancashire tailenders.
‘Mopping up the tail’ seems to be a harder and harder job these days as few teams are prepared to select more than one bowler who has to be reminded which way round to hold the bat – no matter how good they are with the ball in their hand!
Indeed, Warwickshire have long been exponents of playing bowlers who can bat, and batsmen who can bowl a bit, rather than out and out specialists.
Last season Imran Tahir often filled the role of bambooziling the tail. In the absence of such a skilled and experienced spinner this season perhaps Rankin will now take on this role?
Also, please note that of the 14 wickets Rankin has taken in the CC up to now 13 have been in the first innings – and what happens in the first innings usually dictates the course of the rest of the match!
Make no mistake, although the wicket of Marcus Trescothick may be more highly prized than that of Peter Trego who bats 6 places lower down the order, each run they score is worth the same. A team can happilly let the opposition top 6 score 200 if they know they can blast the last 4 out for 20! Our beloved Bears would not still be in Division 1 if it was not for the tail-end runs of Carter, Woakes and Botha!
Often a team has rejoiced when they see their opponents 110/5 and think – job done! A very dangerous form of complacency indeed!
So let us hope that Rankin will continue with the role of tailend destroyer that he assumed so admirabily yesterday! So much easier to take 20 wickets in a match when you know you have a bowler who can get his fellow bowlers out cheaply. Was this part of FEC Bell’s plan? Perhaps, perhaps not. More likely was that he thought bowl Barker at one end to keep things tight and let Woakes and Clarke do the damage at the other end. But take note Captains of Warwickshire – past, present and future (Westwood, Troughton and Bell) – if Rankin can mop up tails on a regular basis then his is a vital role in a Championship challenge!
3 days left to go against Lancs but i think we will have it wrapped up in 2 – weather permitting!
Thanks in no small part to Boyd rankin!
Good Luck Bears