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It's a tough loss to take but we can build from it: William Porterfield


William Porterfield
William Porterfield

By Ian Callender

William Porterfield admitted his Ireland players were hurting after his side collapsed to a 143 runs defeat in their first Test match at Lord's yesterday, but insisted there were plenty of positives to take from the experience.

With Ireland chasing a total of 182 for an unlikely win, England's experienced new ball pair of Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes took all 10 Ireland wickets inside 16 overs as skipper Porterfield's side were bowled out for 38, the lowest total in a Lord's Test.

A day after record temperatures in London, drizzle and a heavy cloud cover forced Ireland to deal with bowler-friendly conditions and the batsmen, some playing their first multi-day game of the season, had no answer.

"It's tough to take," admitted Porterfield. "It's a quiet changing room but that's reflective of the position we put ourselves in.We had the chance to win it and that's why it hurts so much.

"But we knew it was going to be tough with the lights on, the overheads and drizzle around. It's a big learning curve for us. Against the experience of Broad and Woakes, we knew it would be challenging.

"The first few dismissals were all caught at slip, keeper, bowled or lbw. I said to the middle order to just try and put a bit pressure on them."

It didn’t happen, and Porterfield was left to reflect that if Ireland hadn’t lost four wickets in the first innings — in easier batting conditions — then “an extra 70 runs could have meant a very different game”.

But the captain rightly said they can look back with pride on that unforgettable first morning when Tim Murtagh, on his home ground, took five wickets and England were bowled out for 85.

“That first couple of hours is going to stay with players and Irish fans for a long time,” added Porterfield. “To take 10 wickets in the first session of a Lord’s test was an unbelievable effort, and for Murts to get up on the Honours Board, that is never going to be taken away from him.

“He would probably swap it for a win but it’s still great for him and for Irish cricket.

“And as much as they are all gutted in the changing room now, I would like everyone, before they leave here, to reflect on what has happened.

“This doesn’t happen every week and the position we got ourselves into, we can take a lot from that and look back and reflect.

“Be disappointed, yes, but we can enjoy the moment of being here and how we have fought together over the last three days.”

Porterfield’s only regret, as it was after Ireland’s first Test against Pakistan last year — and, indeed their second against Afghanistan in March — was that it was just a one-off Test match.

“We’d love to play games like this every week, in front of a full house at Lord’s, but the crazy scheduling has pitched England straight into an Ashes series,” he added.

“But we must remember, every game we’ve played we have put ourselves in with a chance to win the game and a few more games like this will potentially get us over the line.”

England captain Joe Root admitted that Ireland put them under pressure for two days but was not happy with the surface served up by new Lord’s head groundsman, Karl McDermott of Dublin.

“It was not even close to being a fair contest between bat and ball throughout the whole game.  They were periods where it did get a little bit easier to bat (but) we were under pressure. 

“Ireland exploited the conditions on that first morning in particular extremely well.  But we found a way to win a game.

“First innings (85), last innings (38), it tells a story in itself when scores are as low as that on the surface that you play on.

“But I thought this morning we were outstanding. Stuart and Chris exploited the conditions beautifully and chasing 180 was always going to be challenging.

“They got in the groove very quickly and when they do that on a surface which helps them as much as that does it’s very difficult for the batting side, no matter who they are.

“They just asked the right questions over and over again with the odd bouncer.

“It’s a very simple way of talking about how you want to play Test cricket but I thought they did it extremely well. They were very disciplined in it and it will serve them very well going into what’s to come.”

But he has plenty of optimism for Ireland in their forthcoming Test matches.

“I think they earned the right this week in terms of playing Test cricket, especially with the ball,” he added. “It was bowler-friendly but they were outstanding. After that first seven or eight overs (on the first day) it felt like we were on the back foot and had to scrap to get back into the Test match.

“I can see them upsetting a few big Test sides in the near future, given the opportunity.”

Belfast Telegraph


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