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Positivity is the key for Irish: Porterfield

Skipper wants right attitude in quest to stun England

By Ian Callender

Ireland's most recent match action ended in a 7-2 multi-series defeat to Afghanistan but ahead of today's first one-day international against England in Bristol, for William Porterfield it's as if the series never happened.

"It's the first time we have played England in England so it's a big occasion but all I'm asking from the lads is the same attitude they showed in India for six weeks and how we approached those games, how positive we were and taking that mentality and aggression into these games. If they do that then I'll be happy," was how the Ireland captain started his press conference.

"The one difference in that series was Rashid Khan. The team he played for wins and what he is showing out in the Indian Premier League at the minute is what a good bowler he is."

Rashid, however, was just one member of the Afghanistan team; today at the County Ground in Bristol and on Sunday at Lord's there will be more than one very good player in the England team as Ireland bid to start their summer of cricket with a shock victory.

They have the added pressure of proving they are worthy of a seat at the top table, with Test match status and a place in the new ODI League set to be confirmed next month. But here, too, Porterfield is up for the fight.

"Every time we play that external pressure is always there. We want to put in big performances because we know where Irish cricket wants to go. But from within the changing room we have to keep the same attitude that we have taken throughout the six weeks in India," he repeated.

Although the starting XI is never revealed at the eve-of-match press conference, Porterfield did give a strong hint that there would likely be room for only one specialist spinner - George Dockrell to the exclusion of Andy McBrine - Paul Stirling (right) will open the batting with Ed Joyce, and Tim Murtagh, despite not appearing for Middlesex in any of their one-day games this season, will open the bowling.

"Everyone is fit and available for selection. There are slighter shorter straight boundaries so it can be hard (for spinners) and there is a big wind across the ground today, so all those factors will be taken into account," said Porterfield.

"Murts has performed for us with the white ball and done a great job in all the games so I'm happy where he is at."

Porterfield started his career at Gloucestershire in 2007, but he admits their home ground has changed considerably since then.

"Quite a few lads have played a few games of cricket here, although I haven't played here since I left. But all the county boys know the dimensions and that will always be a help," he said.

The captain admitted it would a special occasion, although he played down the fact that his opposite number is former Ireland team-mate Eoin Morgan.

"It will be a special feeling and the second game (at Lord's) will be greater still," he said.

"But it doesn't matter who is flicking the coin. Eoin grew up in Irish cricket but that is all in the past, he did a lot for Irish cricket when he was here but he has moved on and done really well for himself, but from our point of view we have to keep progressing Irish cricket and keep that momentum.

"We played for Ireland U13s together in Edinburgh and also played inter-pros against each other when he was about eight," he joked, before adding "no, but he was probably only 10-11 and I'm two years older.

"We still chat quite a lot, are pretty good mates and have a lot of mutual friends around London so we see each other a fair bit."

But that will all be put aside today. There will be only one winner.

• Both ODIs will be televised live on Sky Sports 2 and there is also ball by ball commentary on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra where the commentary team includes local voice Michael McNamee as well as RTE's John Kenny and former Ireland captain and current chairman of selectors Alan Lewis. Former England internationals Graeme Swann and Vic Marks are the other summarisers.

Belfast Telegraph

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