Irish cricketers keen to do themselves justice against England

Irish cricketers keen to do themselves justice against England
Ireland's William Porterfield during a nets session at The Brightside Ground, Bristol.

William Porterfield is asking his Ireland team to set aside the historic nature of their first international fixture in England to make sure they do themselves justice in Bristol.

Porterfield's men may conceivably be distracted, not just by facing their neighbours in this country for the first time but by the knowledge that the remarkable collective progress made over the past decade is perhaps about to be rewarded with Test status.

That hugely significant promotion will depend on the outcome of discussions at next month's International Cricket Council annual conference.

But all Porterfield's men can do to help the process in real time is to push England hard here and in the second and final one-dayer of the Royal London Series at Lord's on Sunday.

The captain, one of five in Ireland's likely XI currently playing county cricket, does not discount the potential complications but is backing the tourists to deal with them.

"Any time we are playing, that kind of external pressure is always lingering there anyway," he said.

"We always want to put in big performances because we know where Irish cricket wants to go."

Porterfield, a good friend of England's Dublin-born captain Eoin Morgan since their days as under-13 hopefuls back home and a driving force for his country over his 100 one-day internationals, could be forgiven for feeling more than anyone the importance of what he describes as a "pretty big occasion".

But he is setting his sights on a continuation of the focus Ireland had on their tough tour of India against fellow Test aspirants Afghanistan last month.

"It will be a special feeling personally, leading the lads out against England in England ... and obviously the second game at Lord's will be great (too)," he said.

"But we've asked the lads for the same attitude they showed in India for six weeks, how we approached those games, how positive we were and to take that mentality and aggression into these games.

"That's all we can ask from the lads - if they do that we'll be happy.

"It was a great six weeks. We didn't get the results necessarily we wanted, but how we went into those games was really pleasing."

Ireland came up short across the formats in Greater Noida but were most competitive in the five-match ODI series - and Porterfield cites the leg-breaks of rising star Rashid Khan as by far the prevailing force.

"There was one difference in the sides, and that was Rashid Khan," he said.

"We've seen what he can do and what he's doing at the moment [at the Indian Premier League].

"He's just burst on (the scene), he's fresh - and it takes a little while to negate that. When we did, we won ..."

For Ireland's captain, like all-rounder Kevin O'Brien and most of all coach John Bracewell, Friday's fixture will have added significance after their respective spells with Gloucestershire.

Porterfield's first port of call in England was at Lord's with the MCC Young Cricketers, but he began his professional career with Gloucestershire before moving to Warwickshire.

"They've done a fantastic job with the ground here - it's unrecognisable since the last time I was here," he said.

"It was my first taste of county cricket, walking into a professional set-up.

"John came in, and it was just great to get involved in the professional game. I'll always be grateful to Gloucestershire for giving me that opportunity."

Morgan has given short shrift to any fanciful notion that he might end his career with a switch back to Irish colours at some point - a position which does not appear to surprise Porterfield.

"He grew up with Irish cricket, but I think that's all in the past," he said.

"He did a lot of things for Irish cricket when he was there, and he's moved on and done really well for himself."

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