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Gary Wilson is thrilled to hit 200 not out in Australia

By Ian Callender

Published 09/02/2016

Special milestone: Gary Wilson reached 200 games for Ireland in the third and final Twenty20 international against Papua New Guinea in Townsville, Australia
Special milestone: Gary Wilson reached 200 games for Ireland in the third and final Twenty20 international against Papua New Guinea in Townsville, Australia

It promised to be a very special day for Gary Wilson when he not only played his 200th game for Ireland but, for the second time in his international career, captained the side.

William Porterfield sat out today's third and final Twenty20 international against Papua New Guinea in Townsville - Ireland had already won the series - so Wilson, as of right, led out the team on what the Belfast man admitted was a very proud occasion.

"If you ask me the one thing I am truly proud of in the first 200 games, it was being asked to captain the side in Zimbabwe last October. That was a massive honour. And now I get the chance to do it again. John (Bracewell, the coach) wants a contingency plan for the World Cup if something happens to William," said the double centurion.

But he was quick to play down the role of official vice-captain. "No-one has said, you will have to ask someone else that," he added.

Wilson, a former pupil of Methodist College, is the fifth Irishman to reach the landmark behind Kevin O'Brien (still going strong after 256), Andrew White, Kyle McCallan and Porterfield (217) and is yet another of the current generation who can look back on some special times at the highest level of the game.

"The big wins in the World Cup stand out, of course. England in 2011 and West Indies last year, although I didn't get any runs in either game!" said the latest 30-year-old in the squad (his birthday was last Friday),

"But the win against Zimbabwe in Hobart was my favourite because it got so close, there was so much riding on it, we had to win it to stay in the World Cup. And I contributed a little bit more in that (he scored 25 in a five-run victory)."

His first cap, back in 2005, remains a special memory, especially as it was given out by coach Adi Birrell.

"I was a big fan of Adi, I would have done anything for him, so to get my first cap off him was pretty special," recalled Wilson. "I took four catches and a stumping in my first match, at Bangor against MCC, and dropped one as well.

"I was supposed to be going back to play for MCC Young Cricketers after playing for Civil Service North at Stormont but Roy Torrens (then an Ireland selector) was watching the game and I got a leg side stumping off Allen Coulter.

"Roy would tell you he was the one who got me picked for Ireland for the first time, but it was Adi who rang me up.

"All I wanted to do when I was growing up was to play cricket for Ireland and it's a fact I had to move across the water to play professionally (he has been at Surrey since 2008).

"But if you had told me at the age of 10 or 11 that I would play once I would have bitten your hand off but now, to reach 200, it's a dream come true."

Wilson is one of five players who will be appearing at their fifth World Twenty20 after Cricket Ireland yesterday confirmed the 15 players currently in Australia will be the party for India next month.

Porterfield, Kevin and Niall O'Brien and Paul Stirling (still aged only 25) are the others who have played every tournament since England 2009.

Squad: W Porterfield (capt), A Balbirnie, G Dockrell, A McBrine, T Murtagh, K O'Brien, N O'Brien, A Poynter, S Poynter, B Rankin, M Sorensen, P Stirling, S Thompson, G Wilson, C Young.

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