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William Porterfield: Sport will help bring smiles back when this is over - I can't wait to watch Northern Ireland in Euro play-offs

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William Porterfield

William Porterfield

�INPHO/Oisin Keniry

William Porterfield

William Porterfield

�INPHO/Bryan Keane

William Porterfield

We are asking our sporting personalities how they are dealing with action coming to a halt because of the coronavirus pandemic and how it has affected their daily lives.

Today, we talk to long-time Ireland cricket captain William Porterfield, who was in charge of the team from 2008-2019, leading them at three ICC World Cups and five T20 World Cups. He is the second most capped Ireland player, with 301 appearances.

Q: How are you keeping?

A: Fortunately myself and all the family are keeping well at the minute, just trying to keep busy.

Q: How have you been affected?

A: It has been and is a very strange time, as it is for everyone. I think it took a little bit of time for the severity of the situation to sink in. Within a very short space of time everything escalated, the whole country and world started to shut down. From a purely cricketing point of view, it is frustrating as we were building up to a tour to Zimbabwe which would have led us straight into the season (next month's seven-match series against Bangladesh has already been called off). It was pretty surreal then when everything was cancelled for the foreseeable. I think as sports people we are accustomed to some form of structure and knowing what event or games you are building up to and all that has just stopped.

Q: How are you keeping fit?

A: Luckily I have an exercise bike in the garage and I am able to tick over on that. We have also been given training programmes by the Cricket Ireland strength and conditioning coach. Also keeping a seven-year-old entertained in the garden surely counts!

Q: How are you managing morale?

A: We have had a couple of Zoom calls with Cricket Ireland to keep us updated. However, I think as a whole it's trying to keep your body and mind active until you get together again as a squad. I think it's also about staying in touch with everyone individually, even if it's just a text here and there.

Q: Where are you drawing your personal strength from now?

A: I think the big thing is finding some way of keeping yourself physically and mentally active. I'm currently doing a property course, which has moved online, and another with regards to online marketing and social media. It sounds a bit boring, but I find these are keeping my mind occupied. Also, I'm not sure my garden has ever had as much attention!

Q: Sports fans are staying at home, too. Can you recommend a book, film or box set they might enjoy?

A: I'm a bit of a cricket tragic, so I'll always flick over to Sky Cricket and see what reruns are on and watch a few of those. I enjoyed the re-run of the last day of the Headingley Test match last summer and the World Cup final at the weekend. I'm also looking forward to seeing how The Nest pans out.

Q: What life lessons are you learning from this crisis?

A: I think it puts everything into perspective. I know it is a bit of a cliche, but it just highlights that your health and wellbeing are the most important things. You can set out all the goals and objectives you like, which are still important, but it boils down to having your health to be able to do these things. I think having family and friends in a support network around you is important to achieving anything.

Q: What's the first thing you will do when this is all over?

A: Hopefully watch Northern Ireland qualify for the Euros at Windsor. I was supposed to be in Bosnia, so I'm missing the Northern Ireland games. I'd like to think the world will be able to find a solution and cure for this and we can return to relative normality soon enough. It would be nice to be able to get away for a holiday with family as well.

Q: Your message to sports fans as the crisis continues?

A: I think it can be easy to say that sport is irrelevant at times like these, and I am in no way saying it is as important as finding a solution to this crisis, but when we all get back out there, I think sport is going to play a massive role in bringing a smile back to so many faces. So stay strong and stay safe. Listen to the advice of the experts, and we will hopefully get back out on the pitch sooner than later.

Belfast Telegraph