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Departing Bracewell should be proud of Irish spell: Porterfield


By Ian Callender

William Porterfield has paid tribute to John Bracewell after leading Ireland to victory over Afghanistan in the New Zealander's last match as coach.

After praising the special innings by Paul Stirling and the bowling of George Dockrell which helped Ireland to a first series win against their Full Member rivals, the captain was determined that the outgoing coach should not be forgotten.

"All the emphasis is on (the World Cup qualifying tournament in) Zimbabwe and it's not an easy thing to do when you know you are going at the end of this campaign and yet every conversation since he has known he was leaving has been geared towards Zimbabwe in March," said Porterfield.

"It takes a special kind of character to do that, especially bringing Fordy (his successor Graham Ford) in and getting him involved so much. It shows how much Bracers has bought into Irish cricket and while over the last 12 to 18 months we have lost a lot of fixtures, most have been against really good sides, so while it's easy to look just at results he has to take a lot of pride and credit for what's gone on behind the scenes without getting the recognition he's deserved.

"I have had two spells under him, first at Gloucestershire and for the last two and a half years. He has been great for my game personally and he can leave knowing he has put us in a better place moving forward."

Certainly, there have been signs of improvement after a crushing 203-run victory over Scotland in their final Intercontinental Cup game and then superb comeback wins by 51 runs and five wickets to claim the three-match one-day international series in Sharjah.

Porterfield described Stirling's century in Sunday's victory as "a serious effort from him. He missed out with 95 and 99 in India and 82 the other day, and to score the first ODI hundred since becoming a Full Member, it was fitting he picked up that mantle".

He went on: "George has been working well with Rob (Cassell, the new bowling coach) and it's great for the bowlers to have Rob in, someone to go to and form that bond."

A 15-man squad played an almost full part in the ODIs and it proved there is back-up ready to step in when required.

Barry McCarthy has had a long wait for match action but eight wickets in Ireland's two victories confirmed he has that happy knack of taking wickets and Peter Chase bowled well in his only game when Boyd Rankin was unwell.

Stuart Poynter was only called in as a replacement for Niall O'Brien when Ireland's first-choice wicket-keeper batsman had to return home for a week, but he played all three ODIs, in the same team as O'Brien and averaged 46 at No.7.

The glaring omission was Jacob Mulder but with the pace bowlers doing so well in the first match - or rather the poor performance by the slow bowlers -it left him on the sidelines, but Porterfield said he would be surprised if he wasn't in Zimbabwe.

"Mulder was unlucky to miss out but he has a major role to play in Irish cricket moving forward. We can't neglect a wrist spinner and he is young and is learning and is going to be very useful for us," added the captain.

"We know we are going to have to face 30+ overs of spin in Zimbabwe and will have to play it well to win games of cricket."

Meanwhile, India have confirmed they will visit Ireland at the end of June before their two-month tour of England. They will play two T20 internationals.

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