Porterfield looks to deliver repeat dose
WILLIAM PORTERFIELD is planning to send another couple of tremors through the cricketing world this weekend by leading Ireland to victory in the two-match RSA series against Pakistan in Belfast.
It was only four years ago that Ireland rocked the established order with a stunning three-wicket victory over the same opponents at the World Cup in Jamaica, yet a similar result at Stormont today or on Monday would no longer be a massive surprise.
After a solid showing at this year's World Cup -- including a victory over England -- Porterfield reckons that home conditions could give his side an edge in what should be two closely contested 50-over one-day internationals.
"We're used to playing here in these conditions and the Pakistan side have been in the West Indies for a month, so the climate change between St Kitts and Belfast might also work in our favour," said the captain.
The two outstanding Ireland performers from the St Patrick's Day win in 2007 will be missing -- star bowler Andre Botha has retired while wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien, who hit a match-winning 72, is sidelined with a broken hand.
But five of that team are in the squad -- Trent Johnston, Andrew White, Kevin O'Brien, Porterfield and his Warwickshire team-mate Boyd Rankin -- plus 12th man John Mooney.
"It's disappointing to lose Niall because he's been in the form of his life for Northants," Porterfield said. "We're lucky to have Gary Wilson as a like-for-like wicketkeeper-batsman, though, and the other county boys have also been in great form."
Victory over Pakistan would heap more pressure on the International Cricket Council to reverse its decision to exclude Ireland and the other smaller nations from the next World Cup -- but Porterfield played down that aspect.