Paul Stirling has backed his long-time opening partner William Porterfield to continue his inter-provincial form when Ireland face South Africa tomorrow in the first of three World Cup Super League games in Malahide, in front of a sold-out restricted capacity of 560.
It’s Ireland’s first home one-day international since they beat Zimbabwe at Bready and Stormont 3-0 in July 2019 and the first in front of spectators since the pandemic hit the world in March last year.
Porterfield played in only the first two games in the Netherlands last month when Ireland lost the series 2-1 but as he and Stirling are the only two opening batsmen named in the 15-man squad for the one-day internationals, he is straight back in for the first ODI since Kevin O’Brien announced his retirement.
“We’ve spent a long time batting together. He has been in good touch and will be chomping at the bit to turn that form in practice and the inter-pros (he scored 110 in his last 50-over game, against Munster Reds) into an Irish shirt,” said Stirling.
“He’s still one of the heaviest scorers and has got his mojo back and no one wants to put on a show in an Irish shirt more than him. He’s determined to turn it round and his form in the last couple of weeks has been brilliant.”
There could be two other changes tomorrow with Curtis Campher available again after injury, and according to captain Andrew Balbirnie “excited to play against the country where he has spent much of his life”, and Graeme McCarter, possibly replacing Barry McCarthy or coming into a four-prong pace attack.
South Africa flew in on Monday direct from the Caribbean where they won both the Test match and T20 series and one player who the Ireland players will know better than most is Rassie van der Dussen, who played as an overseas professional for CIYMS back in 2014-15 and inter-provincial cricket with Northern Knights.
Not only has he come a long way in his own career, with 58 appearances for South Africa since his debut in 2018 – he is averaging 80 after 23 ODIs - but he acknowledges the journey that Ireland have made in that time.
“Where cricket has come in Ireland from then to now is really good to see with Ireland a Full Member now, and we’re looking forward to the challenge,” he said.
“You don’t have any easy games anymore, especially away from home. it’s a massive series for Ireland, they will throw everything at us, and for us that’s the challenge, firstly to adapt to foreign conditions, batting and bowling, and then find ways to win games.
“It’s been a successful tour for us already and we’ll look to make it more of a success.”