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Porterfield makes it 300 not out for Ireland

 

Class act: William Porterfield reached major landmark
Class act: William Porterfield reached major landmark

By Ian Callender

William Porterfield played his 300th game for Ireland yesterday when they took on the West Indies in their second one-day international in Barbados.

The Donemana man is only the second Ireland player to reach the landmark, behind Kevin O'Brien who was playing his 360th international.

The most remarkable statistic about Porterfield is that, since his debut in 2006, he captained the side on 253 occasions, until he was relieved of his duties at the end of last year. That's more than the number of games played by all but three other players - O'Brien, Gary Wilson and Paul Stirling.

It was Wilson who presented Porterfield with a special cap to mark the landmark in the pre-match huddle but the Northern Knights skipper is stuck on 289 caps after Ireland announced an unchanged team for the game when Andrew Balbirnie won his second toss of the series and again elected to bat.

The West Indies made two changes with left arm spinner Khary Pierre and pace bowler Romario Shepherd replacing Roston Chase and Keemo Paul.

Enticed by the winter sunshine and the holiday island of Barbados, a larger than usual number of Ireland supporters were again in attendance.

Former team manager Roy Torrens has 20 in his tour party and together with some exiled Ulster people, now living here, they made plenty of noise in the first game on Tuesday and enjoyed frequent appearances in the crowd scenes during the television coverage.

The fans are also outspoken on the team selection, with Lorcan Tucker a popular replacement for Wilson behind the stumps, but surprise that there was no place for James McCollum.

Indeed, with McCollum one of the players heading home on Monday, after the third ODI in Grenada, a number were asking what was the point of him being in the squad if he is not going to get a game.

With McCollum recognised as a specialist opening batsman, it came down to a straight swap between the Waringstown player and Gareth Delany, with the latter getting the nod because he gives Balbirnie the option of leg spin bowling - although he wasn't used in the opening game of the series.

Craig Young is the other who has missed out so far, despite having the unique record of taking at least one wicket in each of his first 13 one-day internationals, although Barry McCarthy's performance in ODIs is just as impressive, having failed to take a wicket in only two of his first 28 games. McCarthy's 52 wickets - the seventh highest for Ireland - have come at an average of 27 runs each and an impressive strike rate of four and a half runs an over, while Young's 27 wickets have come on average three balls quicker and just over two runs more economical.

As Balbirnie said, it was just a gut feeling that McCarthy earned the nod for the first match.

Young would appear to be a certainty to play in the first T20 international in Grenada next Wednesday after taking 7-71 across the last four games of the qualifiers, but the wait for a 14th ODI goes on - his last was in May 2017, against New Zealand.

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