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How Porterfield inspired Irish to county delight

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Great day: William Porterfield led Irish to success

Great day: William Porterfield led Irish to success

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Gary Kidd

Gary Kidd

�INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Great day: William Porterfield led Irish to success

"It wasn't my most fluent innings but I knew if I was still there at the end, we would win the game."

That's how William Porterfield remembers Ireland's clash with Warwickshire in the Midlands Division of the Friends Provident Trophy on May 16, 2008.

Porterfield didn't achieve his personal objective - he was out with 16 required - but it was close enough and Kevin O'Brien hit a straight six to finish the match with 20 balls to spare.

Ireland, along with Scotland, had been admitted to the revamped county competition in 2006 and beat Gloucestershire in their second group game, but that was their only success until Warwickshire arrived in Stormont two years later.

It was only Porterfield's fourth game as captain - he would lead Ireland in another 249 matches - having taken over from Trent Johnston just a month earlier.

"I was made vice-captain the previous winter and when we went to Bangladesh in March, a few lads struggled in the heat. So when TJ was off the field I was captain for a few overs and when we came back (after Johnston had taken the short-term decision to quit 50-over cricket) it was into the Friends Provident."

Darren Maddy won the toss and decided to bat first. Opening the bowling for Ireland was their overseas professional that year, West Indian Ravi Rampaul.

"He was unbelievable," recalled Porterfield. "He wasn't in the West Indies team at the time so was looking to make an impression and that was a big opportunity for him. I remember him running from deep cover to chat about what was going on. He was really good like that, offering suggestions, not just here to bowl.

"So I got a lot from that and I remember he was really unlucky that year. His figures weren't the best and on this day he went for 50 but there were a lot of inside edges and on another day he could have got 3-25."

The bowler with the best figures was Gary Kidd, the Waringstown slow left-armer playing his first game of the season.

"I loved playing with Gazza. He tells the story when I was captain at an Under-19 World Cup match, when he was down at thirdman and I forgot his name, I called him 'wee man'. But I believe if he had played 10 years later he would have been a T20 and one-day specialist. He bowled so tightly. Nobody could get him away at that U19 World Cup."

Ireland restricted Warwickshire to 211-7 - the lowest total they had conceded since the win in Bristol 16 games earlier - and it was made for Porterfield.

"Reine Strydom and (17-year-old) Paul Stirling scored quickly at the start so it was the perfect scenario for me, old-school one-day batting (he scored 69 from 110 balls) and although I don't remember getting out I do remember Kevin hitting a massive six to win the game."

It was to be Porterfield's penultimate game against a county because, two days later after scoring 65 in a defeat by Leicestershire, he was called up by Gloucestershire for whom he had signed in the winter.

Ireland's participation in the competition ended the following year but Porterfield admits now he wasn't in total agreement.

"I thought we should have stayed in the competition and while I completely understood why we had to stand on our own two feet, as a cricketer they were great games to play in. We didn't have an abundance of fixtures then but it guaranteed us eight games against counties.

"And when Niall O'Brien and I weren't available because we were playing for our counties, it gave others the opportunity to come in and get experience."

In Ireland's last match in the competition, they bowled out Worcestershire for 58 for a fifth and final win against a county.

Scores: Warwickshire 211-7 (50 overs, T Frost 56, M Powell 47 not out, I Westwood 41; G Kidd 2-37, R Rampaul 2-53) Ireland 212-6 (46.4 overs, W Porterfield 69, R Strydom 35, P Stirling 27 not out, K O'Brien 23 not out). Ireland won by four wickets.

...to an Ulster cricketing feat, 12 years ago today

Belfast Telegraph