Boyd Rankin has been picked as one of four England bowlers standing at over six feet tall for the Ashes tour of Australia.
The towering Ulsterman joins fellow six-footers Stuart Broad, Steven Finn and Chris Tremlett in a 17-man touring party for the five Ashes Tests between November and January.
Bready-born Rankin, who stands at six foot eight, was not only England’s most economical bowler in the recent One-Day Internationals by Australia, he was also their most threatening.
Those performances in the 2-1 series defeat sealed his place on the plane Down Under as England aim to hit the Australians with a barrage of pace and bounce.
Rankin makes his full England touring squad at the comparatively late age of 29. He believes the Ashes call-up is a vindication of his controversial decision to quit international cricket with Ireland in 2012.
He said: “I’ve come a long way, but it’s all worthwhile. That is one step further to make my dreams come through in terms of playing Test cricket.
“Everyone wants to play at the highest level and I’m no different. I always want to play Test matches and I’m over the moon to be in that squad.”
Rankin admits that he talked over a switch of allegiance to England with both Eoin Morgan and Ed Joyce, Ireland’s other ‘defectors’. Morgan made the last Ashes tour in 2010/011 as reserve batsman but didn’t make the cut this time around.
“I chatted to Ed and Eoin and they have gone through something similar,” Rankin added.
“I have always had the ambition to play Test cricket but I had to take the step of stop playing for Ireland and concentrate on playing for Warwickshire and put myself in the frame for England. I’m 29 but I feel younger, I only feel 24 or 25. It’s been a while coming, I’m really looking forward to the next three or four months. “
If Rankin’s selection was no surprise, England’s selectors raised eyebrows with their choice of reserve batsmen. Somerset’s Nick Compton, the scorer of two Test match hundreds in New Zealand earlier this year, misses out altogether at the expense of Michael Carberry and Gary Ballance.
Carberry, the Hampshire opener, earns selection despite most of his best form over the last two years coming in the shorter form of the game. Ballance, a Zimbabwean-born left-hander, was the shock selection. His only previous international cricket experience came against Ireland at Clontarf earlier this month when he was out for a duck.
Tim Bresnan, the Yorkshire seamer, was not included in the squad as he recovers from a stress fracture of the back but he will join the touring party once he is declared fit. Jonny Bairstow is the reserve wicketkeeper while Ben Stokes of Durham is rewarded for some impressive displays in the ODI series against Australia. Monty Panesar is selected as the second spinner despite his much-publicised disciplinary issues at Sussex.
Squad: Alastair Cook (Essex, captain), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Jonathan Trott (Warwickshire), Kevin Pietersen (Surrey), Ian Bell (Warwickshire), Gary Ballance (Yorkshire), Michael Carberry (Hampshire), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Ben Stokes (Durham), Matt Prior (Sussex, vice-captain), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Graeme Swann (Nottinghamshire), James Anderson (Lancashire), Monty Panesar (Sussex,), Steven Finn (Middlesex), Boyd Rankin (Warwickshire), Chris Tremlett (Surrey).