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Nerves ruined my debut - Rankin

ESPNcricinfo staff
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Rankin was twice forced off the field on his first day as a Test cricketer © Getty Images
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Boyd Rankin has admitted nerves made his Test debut a painful experience and revealed he had suffered a back spasm the night before being handed his cap at the SCG.

Rankin, who ended his Ireland career in an aim to play Test cricket, was twice forced to limp off the ground on the opening day and initially there were fears of a hamstring injury but after a scan it was confirmed as cramp. He was able to bowl in the second innings although still struggled and only managed his first Test wicket with his last ball when Peter Siddle top-edged a pull to bring Australia's second innings to an end.

The match was Rankin's first competitive bowl since the tour match in Alice Springs at the end of November and he believes that could have played a part in his problems. It was put to the ECB during the opening day in Sydney whether there were any injury concerns surrounding Rankin coming into the match because he had been spotted on the ground earlier than his team-mates, but it was explained as just part of his normal routine although it now emerges there was a concern.

"I must admit I didn't sleep that night, with nerves and excitement. It also didn't help that I had a back spasm and so I had to get it checked out on the morning of the game before getting the all-clear to play," Rankin wrote in his column for the Belfast Telegraph.

"It was at lunchtime that I started getting cramp and I was fighting against it through my second spell. I had no problem running around the outfield but as soon as I landed when bowling the first ball of my third spell it seized up. I wanted it to disappear so badly but there was nothing I could do about it.

"I have rarely suffered from cramp in the past, I think the last time was against England at the World Cup in 2007, another big occasion, so I suppose it was down to nerves and tension and, of course, I hadn't played in a match for five weeks.

"My first thought was that I was letting the team down because the other lads had done so well, especially Ben Stokes getting six wickets. So I gave it one more go after tea, but, again, when I landed on bowling I got the same sensation and it was just impossible to keep going, so I spent the rest of the innings in the dressing room.

"Although I managed 12 overs' bowling in the second innings, I never felt 100%. I was still fighting through the cramp and as a result, I didn't really have any rhythm throughout the game and it showed in terms of my speed which was down on where I normally would be."

Rankin has remained in Australia as part of the one-day squad for the series which begins in Melbourne on Sunday and is desperate to ensure his difficult experience in Sydney is not the end of his Test career

"Now that I've got a taste of it, I have the urge to work even harder and play a few more,'' he said. "The first couldn't have gone much worse, having to come off with cramp it was a tough few days. I have learnt so much from those three days in terms of what I want to do if I get another chance."

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