Wednesday 21 August 2019

We can't be too emotional for Lord's bow - Porterfield

Ireland captain William Porterfield in the Pavilion Long Room during a training session at Lord’s. Photo: Matt Impey/Sportsfile
Ireland captain William Porterfield in the Pavilion Long Room during a training session at Lord’s. Photo: Matt Impey/Sportsfile

David Townsend

William Porterfield will enjoy one of the high spots of his 11 years as captain tomorrow when he walks out for the toss with Joe Root ahead of the historic first Test match between England and Ireland at Lord's.

While Porterfield has already led his country in Tests against Pakistan and Afghanistan, the four-day match against England is seen as a "pinnacle" by the 34-year-old skipper.

"It'll be a pretty special occasion," Porterfield says. "Everyone wants to play a Test at Lord's and lot of very good players never have. I'm sure we'll all be feeling the hairs on the back of the neck as we walk through the Long Room but we must make sure not to be too emotional.

"There's no two ways about it, Ireland are massive underdogs, but we have to remember that it's like any other game, it's just bat against ball. I know that sounds simple but that's how we are going to try to approach it."

Porterfield would love to score a century and see his name on the honours board at the Home of Cricket but, oddly enough, he will not be fulfilling a childhood dream this week because playing a Test match never entered his head as a youngster growing up in Tyrone.

Unlike Ed Joyce who faced the fearsome West Indies attack in the shape of his brother Dom in the backyard in Bray, or World Cup-winning Eoin Morgan, who wanted to play for England from an early age, the young Porterfield had no lofty ambitions.

"No, it's a bit of a strange one, I never had an idol as such in those days," Porterfield says. "If I looked up to anyone it would have been (Des) 'Decker' Curry because he was a left-hander and he'd played for Ireland and you could see that, and he was dominating in the local league.

"We used to watch the Ashes on TV at home but I grew up on a farm with three sisters so I was mostly batting by throwing a ball against a wall and hitting it, and a bit with my dad. When I moved over to England I had to research who was who because I hadn't followed county cricket."

Earliest

The earliest photo of young William with a bat in hand is as a grumpy eight-year-old who had just been dismissed playing for Killyclooney a while before he moved down the road to Donemana and scored a half-century in the Irish Cup final in 2000.

Despite his success and a growing reputation in the north-west, plus a stint with the MCC Young Cricketers at Lord's, Porterfield decided he had to move to Leinster to catch the eye of the national selectors and joined Rush with a view to being selected for the 2007 World Cup.

"I spoke to (then Ireland coach) Adi Birrell and he thought it was a good idea, and at that time North County were the best club side in Ireland, so I wanted to play against them twice a season and show what I could do."

Porterfield found himself on the plane to the Caribbean for the 2007 World Cup and after making 13 in the breakthrough win over Pakistan he top-scored in Ireland's less-heralded victory over Bangladesh and a year later he was captaining the national side for the first time.

"It was pretty intimidating because there were a lot of experienced players in that side," he adds. "I was captaining the likes of Kyle McCallan, Andy White and Trent Johnston, when he came back. It was great to have those guys around - but also intimidating.

"In many ways the roles are reversed these days and I'm the experienced one helping the new guys settle in the team. We've got some great talent coming through and helping that process keeps me fresh at the job."

Porterfield will continue to lead the side for as long as Cricket Ireland want him and nothing would please him more than to emulate his good friend Eoin Morgan and become the second Irishman to captain his side to a famous victory at Lord's this month.

Irish Independent

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