Helping Ireland earn Test status is Porterfield's main priority
Ireland captain William Porterfield was forced to watch his Warwickshire team-mates play their Royal London Cup semi-final on television yesterday but he is happy to make the sacrifice to help his international colleagues reach the Test match arena.
With three maximum-point wins from their first three games in the Intercontinental Cup, Ireland are in pole position to win the competition and take a huge step towards the Holy Grail of Test match status.
Game four (of seven) starts this morning at Stormont against Hong Kong (11am).
"I missed the quarter-final as well but we have big games for Ireland, the pathway is laid out to Test cricket and while it's not ideal missing a semi-final, we want to be playing Test cricket and have to give ourselves the best chance," said Porterfield.
Ireland are big favourites to make it four I-Cup victories with Hong Kong travelling without their two most experienced players, Mark Chapman and John Atkinson, their captain at this year's World Twenty20.
"We expect to win, we've a lot of experience in our side against a young side. The target is to get first-innings points and then walk away with 20. It's forecast to be a good couple of days weather-wise and we are playing on the same pitch as the fourth Afghan (ODI) game last month, so it should be good batting conditions for two days and spin later on," added Porterfield.
The captain confirmed that he and Ed Joyce, who has scored two double centuries already in this year's competition, will open the batting with Paul Stirling in the middle order, where he plays for Middlesex in four-day cricket.
George Dockrell, Ireland's most successful I-Cup bowler behind former captain Trent Johnston, has been recalled and will play.
Ireland: W Porterfield (capt), E Joyce, N O'Brien, J Anderson, P Stirling, K O'Brien, A McBrine, B McCarthy, G Dockrell, T Murtagh, P Chase, G Wilson, C Young.