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Ireland must grab golden chance, says Porterfield


Testing times: William Porterfield during Ireland’s Test clash against Pakistan
Testing times: William Porterfield during Ireland’s Test clash against Pakistan

By Duncan Bech

William Porterfield has urged Ireland to seize their moment in the spotlight when their four-day Test against England begins today.

It is just Ireland's third red-ball match since they were given full Test member status two years ago and their first at Lord's.

England enter the curtain-raiser to the Ashes series as overwhelming favourites buoyed by their success in the recent World Cup, for which Ireland failed to qualify.

"It's disappointing to miss out on the World Cup, it's not something you get over. But this is an opportunity for us to go out and show what we can do," Porterfield said.

"It's right up there, if not the pinnacle, of everything that's been achieved with Irish cricket.

"Obviously we've got a few World Cups under our belts, little things like that, but getting to Test cricket and getting the opportunity to play here at the home of cricket is a pretty special thing.

"It's 11 guys against 11 guys. It's bat against ball. You take the names out of it and take each delivery as it comes.

"It's easy saying that, and we know that we're playing against some very good players, but it's a simple process as much as anything.

"It's a mental test as much as anything, there is a lot of county cricket and four-day first-class experience within the side so we have all that to draw on."

It is still very much a learning curve for Ireland and a trip to the home of cricket is a red-letter day for all those involved with the sport on the island.

Porterfield knows that as momentous a day that it is, it is just another step in the growth of the sport.

Ireland will play just their third Test, having lost at home to Pakistan in May 2018 and then lost to Afghanistan in India in March.

Skipper Porterfield says the next move must be for more players to be given the chance to play full-time and to help that become a reality, facilities in the country are improving with a high-quality performance centre being constructed.

"It is up to us now to lay those foundations in Test cricket that we can kick on from," Porterfield said.

"It's an immensely proud moment to take to the field in a Test match and for your country.

"We want to settle in as quickly as we can in that arena and the more games we get under our belt the easier that will be.

"Facilities is one of the biggest things we have identified that we are working on. That is going to be key to our progression and we need at least one (performance centre) around the country we can utilise.

"Everything is improving side by side.

"If we get the facilities up and going, if we get more games and domestic teams, if we get more cricketers being able to play and train full-time, then that's what is going to help us be sustainable in Ireland."

Ireland played a one-day international at Lord's in 2017, losing to England by 85 runs, but Porterfield says that their maiden Test at the venue will be extra special.

"It will be a massive occasion for everyone there, let alone the 11 that get the opportunity to take the pitch," the 34-year-old batsman said.

Teams for the Test match at Lord's

England: Joe Root (c), Moeen Ali, Rory Burns, Sam Curran, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Jason Roy, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes.

Ireland: William Porterfield (c), Mark Adair, Andrew Balbirnie, Andrew McBrine, James McCollum, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O'Brien, Boyd Rankin, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Lorcan Tucker, Gary Wilson, Craig Young.

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