Proud Porter­field salutes his men’s char­ac­ter

Belfast Telegraph - - SPORT - BY IAN CAL­LEN­DER

IRE­LAND cap­tain Wil­liam Porter­field was “ex­tremely proud” of his play­ers, de­spite end­ing up on the los­ing side in their first ever Test match.

No na­tion since Australia in 1887 has won their first Test match but Ire­land came closer than most as Pak­istan were made to fight all the way be­fore win­ning by five wick­ets deep into the fi­nal day.

“It was a hell of an ef­fort for all five days (four ac­tu­ally as the first was washed out), from how we bowled on the open­ing day with so much emo­tion about, af­ter 11 caps were handed out and fam­ily and friends watch­ing and we car­ried that through from the first day,” said Porter­field.

“When we went out to bat, I’m sure a lot of the lads would like to have that op­por­tu­nity again but on a personal level I can say the heart was beating a lit­tle bit faster than nor­mal — I’m not say­ing it led to my down­fall in any way — but there was al­ways go­ing to be nerves around. And the way we put that right in the sec­ond in­nings was su­perb.

“The fourth day be­longed to Kevin (O’Brien) with great support from Stuart Thomp­son and Ty­rone Kane. But to score a hun­dred on de­but, be­ing un­der the pump, and to show the char­ac­ter which we had talked about and to go on and score the big one was great to see, I’m delighted for him.

“We’ve done it be­fore at World Cups, show­ing char­ac­ter, but Test cricket is Test cricket for a rea­son, it’s in the name, you do get tested and we were af­ter the first in­nings (when asked to fol­low-on) when we had to go back out for those 25 overs at the end of day three.

“Had they knocked three or four over then, peo­ple would have had dif­fer­ent thoughts on the game. But to get through that and to get close to 350, it shows what we have got in the chang­ing room and the pas­sion we have play­ing for our coun­try.”

Porter­field had been one of the few mem­bers of the Ir­ish camp who had spo­ken about ac­tu­ally hav­ing a chance of win­ning the match and last night, hav­ing set Pak­istan a vic­tory tar­get of 160, he ad­mit­ted “we’re dis­ap­pointed not to win in the end”.

He went on: “It would have been nice to score a few ex­tra runs this morn­ing but at 14-3 we had a proper sniff and if we had bro­ken that (fourth wicket) part­ner­ship ear­lier it was com­pletely game on, but we were play­ing against a qual­ity line-up and the way the lads equated them­selves I can’t fault any­one at all.

“Close to 200 would have made it a very in­ter­est­ing game but they came out and played pos­i­tively and it was how you had to play to get over the line.”

The cap­tain also hinted that Stuart Thomp­son, af­ter his maiden Test 50, could move up the or­der and make room for a spe­cial­ist spin­ner in the side; Paul Stir­ling wasn’t used yes­ter­day.

“A cou­ple of times I was tempt- ed to use Stirlo but I couldn’t get the ball out of Murts’ (Tim Murtagh) hands. He doesn’t have a game for a cou­ple of weeks be­cause Mid­dle­sex will be play­ing one-day cricket and a few stayed low at that end so I just kept go­ing with him as that was po­ten­tially the way we were go­ing to break the part­ner­ship, with the seam­ers,” added Porter­field.

“We knew the weather was go­ing to be around on Fri­day so we were al­ways go­ing in with an allseam at­tack, but we will have to find a way of getting a front line spin­ner in, es­pe­cially mov­ing for­ward.”

Tonight’s fix­tures: La­gan Val­ley Steels T20 Cup: Civil Ser­vice North v In­sto­ni­ans (5.30pm), War­ingstown v Ar­magh (6.00pm). Proud skip­per: Wil­liam Porter­field was im­pressed by his team-mates

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