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Irish under pressure as skipper Porterfield exits tour

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Setback: Ireland skipper William Porterfield has returned home

Setback: Ireland skipper William Porterfield has returned home

©INPHO/Presseye/Rowland White

Setback: Ireland skipper William Porterfield has returned home

And then there were 14! Confirmation that William Porterfield has left Ireland's pre-World Cup tour came shortly before 1am this morning here in New Zealand and is the latest devastating blow to what is proving to be a jinxed four weeks Down Under.

The short statement, which came out of Cricket Ireland's offices in Dublin, simply said: "Ireland captain William Porterfield has returned home due to personal reasons. (He) left the team's camp in Hamilton and returned home yesterday, and Cricket Ireland asks that William's privacy be respected at this time.

"Cricket Ireland will not be seeking a replacement for the remaining three matches of the tour (the first of which, against a New Zealand XI, started overnight)."

It finally puts an end to the mystery of Porterfield's absence for the previous 58 hours. His non-appearance at Wednesday's practice session, three hours after Ireland's arrival in Hamilton, was the first indication that something was not right, especially as he had been one of the drivers for the road convoy which took the team from their base in Tauranga that morning.

For the next two days, requests about Porterfield's non-appearance - he was not at the ground for Thursday's game against the Northern Districts - were met with "he is ill" but it has now transpired that he began the 36-hour journey back to England on Wednesday afternoon and, I understand, it was at Porterfield's specific personal request that nothing be made public until he had returned home.

Cricket Ireland acquiesced to his request but with another match coming up today - the highlight of the tour against a New Zealand side preparing for a three-match one-day series against South Africa starting on Tuesday - the truth had to finally come out.

Porterfield has now followed Andrew White (broken finger) in an early return home and with Tim Murtagh (knee) and Paul Stirling (back) both ruled out on the eve of the tour, the original 18-man party is now down to 14.

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Not forgetting Max Sorensen (fractured wrist) and Ed Joyce (rested) who were not even considered!

And as Ireland prepared for last night's game, Gary Wilson was another non-starter with a shoulder injury, although Stuart Thompson did resume training yesterday after his leg injury, which kept him out of the three wickets defeat to Northern Districts.

Hardly the ideal preparation to face a Kiwi side which may be without Ross Taylor, Brendan McCollum and Kane Williamson but, otherwise, the Ireland XI were facing a full-strength New Zealand line-up.


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