William Porterfield is a legend of Irish cricket. Not only because of his personal achievements, but also for his service to the nation. He was the longest serving captain of the Irish cricket team. Not only that, he was the longest serving national captain for any team sports in Ireland. Let’s go and look at the amazing career and achievements of Porterfield.
Porterfield’s Domestic Career
In domestic cricket, he achieved immense success. In the beginning of his domestic career, 2004 and 2006, he played Second XI cricket for Durham, MCC Young Cricketers, Northamptonshire, Derbyshire and Kent. After that he played first-class cricket for Gloucestershire. He was offered a two-year contract following his record for becoming the first Irish player to score 1,000 runs in a calendar year. For self-improvement he made a hard choice and sacrificed his national duty to lead Ireland in ODIs against Scotland and New Zealand. Instead, he went on to play county cricket for Gloucestershire to cement his position in the team. He proved his mettle and achieved the award for Associate and Affiliate Player of the Year in 2009.The season ended with a new three-year contract with Warwickshire. In an Inter-provincial Series match against Leinster Lightning at Bready in 2018, Porterfield made his career best First-class score of 207.
Porterfield’s International career
The prolific left-handed opener made his One Day International (ODI) debut against Scotland in 2006. Since then his bat never stopped. He came into limelight after scoring two successive centuries against Bermuda (112) and Kenya (104 not out) respectively. Porterfield is the first Irish batsman to reach the landmark of 4,000 ODI runs. He reached this feat in July 2019 and also registered his 50th win as the ODI captain. Currently, he is the second highest run scorer in ODIs for Ireland. With 4,091 runs, he is only second to 4,121 of his opening partner, Paul Stirling. He is not just a great batsman, he has also been the most successful cricket captain of his nation. With 11 international centuries, Porterfield also holds the record for most centuries by an Irish batsman. His 139 against Afghanistan in 2018 is the highest among the lot.
Porterfield as the captain
The Northern Irish born cricketer was shouldered the responsibility of captaincy in 2008. He succeeded his predecessor, Trent Johnston. As the captain of Ireland, he led the team to a many success. He led his side to qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. He stunned the cricketing world when he led Ireland to a famous victory against England. The greats of Andrew Strauss, Ian Bell, Kevin Petersen succumbed to the fantastic gameplay of the new Irish superstars. He also captained his side to another victory against Netherlands with a match-winning half-century in the same tournament. However, following narrow defeats against the swampy Bangladesh, the West Indies and the mighty India, Ireland failed to qualify to the knockout stage. In the 2015 World Cup, he led Ireland to qualify for the tournament but again failed to reach the knockout stage due to inferior run-rate than the West Indies.
In Twenty20 Internationals (T20I), Porterfield succeeded to lead Ireland to qualify in three consecutive ICC World Twenty20, 2012, 2014 and 2016. The most impressive performance of his team came in 2014. Ireland registered two consecutive wins in their first two matches. But, again, Ireland slipped off before the knockout stage due to the last match defeat against Netherlands along with an inferior net run rate.
But the red-letter day for him and Ireland came in 2018 when he became the first ever test captain of the Irish men’s cricket team. He led his country for the inaugural test against Pakistan in the home soil at The Village, Malahide. He went on to lead Ireland for tests against Afghanistan and England. Although, Ireland lost all three matches, but it made the indication of a new dawn of Irish cricket.
Stepping down from captaincy
Since every successful sportsperson has a low in their career, Porterfield remained no exception. His batting form started to fall in the past three years which also raised questions on his captaincy. In 2017, he stepped down from the captaincy in T20I, but continued to captain the side in ODIs and Tests. Gary Wilson became the new T20I captain for Ireland. In 2017, Porterfield finally stepped down from captaincy of ODIs and Tests and handed over the baton to Andrew Balbirnie.
Porterfield on his decision
It has been an incredible journey, and a fantastic honour to have captained my country over the past 11-and-a-half years. There have been many highs, along with a few lows along the way, but I can honestly say that it has been thoroughly enjoyable. To have been able to lead Ireland out at various World Cups, through to our first Test against Pakistan, and again at Lord’s in the summer, have been but a few of these highlights. I feel incredibly lucky and privileged to have done so. I feel, and in consultation with Cricket Ireland, that now is the right time to hand over that mantle. With the ODI league starting in the summer it will allow ‘Balbo’ [Balbirnie] time to get into the swing of things…
The 35-year-old left-handed opening batsman has proved all points to be termed as one of the greatest sportspersons of Ireland. Unlike other Irish cricketers, who sacrificed their home soil to play cricket for other countries, Porterfield stuck to his roots as a true patriot. Although, he is no more the official cricket captain, but forever he will be the Captain in the hearts of Irish people.