Rankin was thrown to the wolves as England imploded Down Under

England's Boyd Rankin (right) with Alistair Cook

England's Boyd Rankin (right) with Alistair Cook

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Sometimes in sport, most typically when a team has reached its lowest ebb and has abandoned almost all hope, selectors, their strategies in tatters, throw players to the wolves.

So it was at the Sydney Cricket Ground last Friday. As England gathered in a huddle around an hour before the start of the fifth ill-fated Ashes Test they made a presentation to Ulster fast bowler Boyd Rankin, batsman Gary Ballance and novice leg-spinner Scott Borthwick, not so much three debutants as three sacrificial lambs. Rankin and Borthwick in particular were symbols of the muddled thinking that undermined so much of a disastrous Ashes defence.

England had reached their nadir at the end of the fourth Test in Melbourne, a match they dominated for two days before two trademark calamitous second-innings batting collapses sealed a fourth successive defeat.


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