I'll be living Test dream at Lord's: Porterfield
William Porterfield has described the announcement of next year's Test match between Ireland and England at Lord's as a dream come true.
The Ireland Test captain has already played 277 internationals but admits the four-day Test at Cricket's HQ, from July 24, will be the pinnacle of a senior career which started at Donemana as a 15-year-old in 2000.
"It's matches like these that players dream about - to play at Lord's in 2017 in a one-day match was special, but to play a Test will be truly memorable," said Porterfield.
"Our first Test against Pakistan in May was an historic occasion but has only served to increase the players' hunger to challenge themselves again in this arena."
In a further boost for Irish cricket, England have also agreed to travel for a one-day international, almost certainly at Malahide, on Friday, May 3, the first ODI between the teams here since 2015 when rain forced the match to be abandoned after 18 overs.
But it is the inaugural Test match against England which will excite players and fans.
"Test cricket is the pinnacle of our sport and to compete with the best you have to play the best," added Porterfield.
"The release of the ICC Future Tours Programme shows that we have some world-class cricket coming our way over the coming years, and through Tests like this against England we will gain the confidence and experience to progress as a new Test nation."
And after 25,000 attended the ODI at Lord's last year, England will expect and almost certainly get another huge influx travelling to our nearest Test rivals.
Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom said: "To return to the world's most famous cricket ground to play our first Test against England will be a truly remarkable occasion and a reward for the many people on and off the field that have driven Irish cricket forward over recent decades.
"When we set our sights on Test status it was games like this that we envisioned, and we have always believed that our passionate, sport-loving island can play its part in expanding cricket's global reach."
The Test match is confirmation of a verbal assurance from the England and Wales Cricket Board before Ireland achieved Test match status that it would host the men in green in 2019.
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said: "We fully supported the ICC's decision to award Full Membership to Cricket Ireland and we expect next summer's Test match to be an historic celebration for all Irish cricket fans.
"It will also provide excellent Ashes preparation for England against an Irish team whose impressive performance against Pakistan earlier this year showed they can compete strongly in this form of the game."
Meanwhile, there is a full programme of league fixtures in both NCU and North West tomorrow with joint league leaders Waringstown first into action at Carrickfergus, while surprise Premiership pacesetters Bready are at home to Ardmore.
Fixtures: Tomorrow (12pm) Robinson Services Premier League: Armagh v Muckamore, Carrickfergus v Waringstown (11am), CIYMS v North Down, Instonians v Civil Service North. Sunday: Armagh v Instonians (1pm).
Section One: Cregagh v Bangor (11.30am), Downpatrick v Holywood, Laurelvale v Woodvale, Lisburn v Derriaghy (11.30am), Lurgan v Donaghcloney Mill.
Section Two: Ards v Cliftonville Academy, Ballymena v Dundrum, BISC v Cooke Collegians, Dunmurry v Belfast Superkings, Drumaness v Monaghan, Saintfield v Victoria, Templepatrick v Donaghadee. Sunday: Larne v Cliftonville Academy.
Long's SuperValu Premiership: Bready v Ardmore, Donemana v Brigade, Fox Lodge v Eglinton, Strabane v Coleraine.
Championship: Burndennett v Newbuildings.