Friday 24 May 2019

Porterfield hoping for a perfect storm as Ireland aim for famous victory

Ireland captain William Porterfield. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Ireland captain William Porterfield. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

David Townsend

William Porterfield is hoping to catch England cold at Malahide today as Ireland look to exploit a favourable pitch and early-season conditions to claim the scalp of the world's best one-day international team.

Skipper Porterfield knows that the 50-over World Cup favourites - led by his good friend and former team-mate Eoin Morgan - will be hard to topple but the Boys in Green do have home advantage and England have been hit by recent distractions.

"England play a positive brand of cricket but with that, it brings opportunities," Porterfield said. "We have lads with a lot of experience of playing against them in county cricket and the conditions here in May might not be as conducive to the way they like to play."

England's free-hitting top order have few peers when the ball is coming onto the bat, but they are seen to be vulnerable on slower surfaces, so a pitch that forces them to graft may work in favour of the home side.

There is also the disruption around the inclusion of Jofra Archer, the exciting all-rounder from a Caribbean background, and the exclusion of Alex Hales, the big-hitting reserve batsman who is serving a 21-day suspension related to alleged recreational drug use.

The England and Wales Cricket Board changed their residential qualification rules to three years to allow them to pick Barbados-born Archer for the World Cup. His call-up has not been universally welcomed, particularly by those whose place he may take.

The focus on Archer's debut at The Village will shine the spotlight away from Porterfield's desperate need for runs - the usually reliable opening batsman has gone 19 innings without a half-century and only reached 30 once since last May's Test match against Pakistan.

After 11 years in charge, Porterfield was questioned about his position for the first time at the end of Ireland's series of games against Afghanistan in March and insisted he had no intention of giving up the captaincy, and that view hasn't changed.

He views part of his job as bringing through the next generation of players to smooth the transition for when he and fellow veterans Gary Wilson and Kevin O'Brien hang up their boots.

"We need to give opportunities and game time to lads coming through, like Lorcan Tucker and Josh Little, and start building towards the 2023 World Cup," he said. "Those lads are here on merit and putting pressure on for places, and that is something we haven't seen in the last few years. It's a great credit to the development system that we have in place."

Tucker may miss out on the squad of 14, with wicketkeeper Wilson returning after injury and James McCollum likely to retain his batting slot after a promising Test debut. However, Pembroke team-mate Little's chance of playing has been boosted by a shoulder injury to Stuart Thompson.

Mark Adair takes Thompson's place in the squad for the England game and for Sunday's ODI against the West Indies.

IRELAND (probable): William Porterfield (capt), Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie, James McCollum, Kevin O'Brien, Gary Wilson (wk), George Dockrell, Josh Little, Barry McCarthy, Tim Murtagh, Boyd Rankin.

Ireland v England

Sky Sports Cricket, 10.30am

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