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Lord's Test will give us a major high: Porterfield

 

Big occasion: William Porterfield gears up for Ireland’s first Test against England
Big occasion: William Porterfield gears up for Ireland’s first Test against England

By David Townsend

William Porterfield will enjoy one of the high spots of his 11 years as captain tomorrow when he walks out for the toss with Joe Root ahead of the historic first Test match between England and Ireland at Lord's.

While Porterfield has already led his country in Tests against Pakistan and Afghanistan, the four-day match against England is seen as a "pinnacle" by the 34-year-old skipper.

"It'll be a pretty special occasion," said Porterfield. "Everyone wants to play a Test at Lord's and a lot of very good players never have. I'm sure we'll all be feeling the hairs on the back of the neck as we walk through the Long Room but we must make sure not to be too emotional.

"There's no two ways about it, Ireland are massive underdogs, but we have to remember that it's like any other game, it's just bat against ball. I know that sounds simple but that's how we are going to try to approach it."

Porterfield would love to score a century and see his name on the honours board at the Home of Cricket but, oddly enough, he will not be fulfilling a childhood dream because playing a Test match never entered his head as a youngster in Tyrone.

Unlike Ed Joyce, who faced the fearsome West Indies attack in the shape of his brother Dom in the backyard in Bray, or World Cup-winning Eoin Morgan, who wanted to play for England from an early age, the young Porterfield had no lofty ambitions.

"No, it's a bit of a strange one, I never had an idol as such in those days," said Porterfield.

"If I looked up to anyone it would have been (Des) 'Decker' Curry because he was a left-hander and he'd played for Ireland and you could see that, and he was dominating in the local league.

"We used to watch the Ashes on TV at home but I grew up on a farm with three sisters so I was mostly batting by throwing a ball against a wall and hitting it, and a bit with my dad. When I moved over to England I had to research who was who because I hadn't followed county cricket."

The earliest photo of young William with a bat in hand is as a grumpy eight-year-old who had just been dismissed playing for Killyclooney a while before he moved down the road to Donemana and scored a half-century in the Irish Cup final in 2000.

Despite his success and a growing reputation in the north west, Porterfield decided he had to move to Leinster to catch the eye of the national selectors and joined Rush with a view to being selected for the 2007 World Cup.

"I spoke to (then Ireland coach) Adi Birrell and he thought it was a good idea, and at that time North County were the best side in Ireland, so I wanted to play against them and show what I could do," he said.

Porterfield found himself on the plane to the Caribbean for the 2007 World Cup and after making 13 in the breakthrough win over Pakistan he top-scored in Ireland's less-her­alded victory over Bangladesh and a year later he was captaining the national side for the first time.

"It was intimidating because there were experienced players," he added. "I was captaining the likes of Kyle McCallan, Andy White and Trent Johnston.

"In many ways the roles are reversed these days and I'm the experienced one helping the new guys settle. We've got some great talent coming through and helping that process keeps me fresh."

Porterfield will continue to lead for as long as Cricket Ireland want him and nothing would please him more than to emulate his friend Eoin Morgan and become the second Irishman to captain his side to a famous victory at Lord's this month.

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