Boyd Rankin to play for Lisburn - if there is any cricket in 2020
On the day that all four provincial unions in Ireland announced that the start of their seasons has been put back five weeks until May 28 because of the coronavirus pandemic, Lisburn confirmed that Rankin has agreed to join the NCU Premier League side.
The 35-year-old is eighth on Ireland’s all-time wicket-taker list and will link up with his brother Robert at Wallace Park.
In what has been a busy winter of arrivals at Lisburn, the club also told the News Letter that Matthew Humphries, the highly promising Instonians youngster, has made the switch from Shaw’s Bridge. Humphries was NCU young player of the year as recently as 2018,
With another young player, Luke Allison, also having moved from Donacloney, if there is any cricket later in the summer, Lisburn look strongly equipped to be at the right end of the NCU Premier League table.
Rankin’s presence would certainly be a boost for crowds at Wallace Park and generate interest in the NCU as a whole. After a long career in the county game at England, he remains a force to be reckoned with and should be a real handful for NCU batsmen.
If we get cricket, Rankin will join Josh Manley in one of the most dangerous new-ball comdinbations in the league.
In terms of the season ahead, a start date of May 28 looks unlikely, and it is expected that unless there is a drastic improvement soon, a further postponement to the end of June is more likely.
In the NCU it is almost certain that there will be a limited programme with teams playing each other once and relegation not in operation.
While a late start to the season may not preclude the NCU Challenge Cup being fought for, it’s more unlikely that the Irish Cup and the National Cup competitions could be fitted into a tight schedule.
The interprovincial competition could also be decimated and Ireland’s headline summer programme against New Zealand and Pakistan is already in grave doubt.