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Ireland skipper Porterfield set to return home

By Ian Callender

William Porterfield has played his last game for Warwickshire and will return to club cricket in Ireland next year.

The Ireland captain was yesterday released by the county he joined in 2011, having this season played only a bit-part role.

Under the ECB regulations, once Ireland became a full member of the ICC, Porterfield would have been considered an overseas player after his current contract expires this month.

He follows Ed Joyce, Niall O'Brien and George Dockrell out of county cricket this year and leaves only six members of the extended international squad playing in England. Meanwhile, Leinster Lightning start favourites to complete a hat-trick of inter-provincial trophies for a third successive year when Northern Knights head south for the final three-day championship game at Clontarf, starting today.

Peter Chase is the one notable absentee from the Lightning side as he has been rested by Cricket Ireland ahead of next week's one-day international against West Indies at Stormont, but a pace attack of Eddie Richardson, Tyrone Kane and Kevin O'Brien remains a formidable one.

Knights will probably need a maximum points victory to overtake Lightning at the top of the table but they are handicapped by the unavailability of no fewer than four Waringstown players, for various reasons.

Adam Dennison, Gary Kidd, Lee Nelson and Greg Thompson all miss the match although that allows the selectors to call-up their team-mate, James Mitchell for his first appearance in a Knights' squad.

However, Shane Getakte, who missed the last Championship game because of injury and Robert McKinley are recalled and along with Graeme McCarter and Nathan and Nikolai Smith they can field a first-choice pace attack.

Skipper James Shannon's slow bowling options are severely restricted, however, with CI's John Matchett the only back-up for Jacob Mulder and if the Castle Avenue pitch takes spin, then Lightning captain John Anderson, although still missing Simi Singh, can call on George Dockrell and Andrew Balbirnie, who took five wickets against North West Warriors at Bready, before he has to bowl himself.

But, with a dry forecast this week, Lightning's powerful batting line-up, led by Ed Joyce, should get the runs to ensure the draw which will give them the title.

Lightning: J Anderson, A Balbirnie, D Delany, G Delany, G Dockrell, E Joyce, T Kane K O'Brien, E Richardson, J Tector, S Terry, L Tucker

Knights: J Shannon (capt), C Dougherty, S Getkate, G McCarter, J McCollum, R McKinley, J Magowan, J Matchett, J Mitchell, J Mulder, Nat Smith, Nik Smith.

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