William Porterfield: Ireland's longest-serving captain retires

William Porterfield
Porterfield scored 9,507 international runs across all three formats at an average of 31.07

Ireland’s longest-serving captain William Porterfield has called time on his international playing career to focus on coaching.

The opening batter, who retires as Ireland’s third most-capped player having made his debut in 2006, has joined his former county Gloucestershire as a consultant coach until the end of the season.

He made his 310th and final international appearance in January as Ireland clinched a memorable one-day series win in the West Indies.

“It’s a little bit surreal to be honest,” said the 37-year-old.

“It’s something that’s come about through an opportunity elsewhere and I suppose if I’m being honest with myself it’s something I had been thinking about in the back of my mind and when the right opportunity came up in terms of joining Gloucestershire’s coaching staff that kind of made the decision for me.

“Those opportunities don’t come around too often and it kind of gave me the final nudge.

“Ultimately one day would I like to still be involved and have an impact in Cricket Ireland? Yes. Where that is down the line as potentially a head coach, I’d like to be in a position where I’d be considered for that.”

Having made his debut against Namibia 16 years ago, the Donemana man went on to become Ireland’s longest-serving men’s captain and their second-highest run scorer across all three formats.

He skippered the side 253 times and scored 18 centuries, including a memorable 107 against Pakistan at the 2015 World Cup and 112 versus England in a home ODI in 2013.

‘I’ve given it everything’

In May 2018 he captained Ireland in their first-ever Test, at home to Pakistan, before going on to lead the side out in a four-day game against England at Lord’s, where Ireland threatened to pull off a stunning upset before collapsing in their second innings.

“Every cricketer grows up wanting to play for their country, but also to captain their side in a Test match at Lord’s,” he said.

“It still hurts a little bit coming so close, but they’re moments that I’ll always have.”

Ireland have not played a Test since, and having stepped down as Twenty20 captain in 2018 Porterfield’s final years focused on one-day cricket, where he helped Ireland to a 2-1 series win in the West Indies in Jamaica in what would prove to be his final international series.

“I’m comfortable with where I was at in the game,” he reflected.

“Whenever I left the West Indies I had played every game and I was comfortable that was my last (international series). I was like ‘well if that happens to be it, I’ve left nothing out there’.

“That’s how I’ve gone about my career, I’ve given it everything.”

Porterfield against Pakistan in 2018
Porterfield captained Ireland in their first-ever Test against Pakistan in 2018

He departs as Ireland begin life under new head coach Heinrich Malan, whose first test will be to guide Ireland through a daunting two-game T20 series against India at the end of June.

They will also face New Zealand, South Africa and Afghanistan in white-ball series during the summer before their attentions turn to the T20 World Cup in Australia.

“It’s a huge loss when an absolute pillar of the game calls time on his career,” said Ireland skipper Andrew Balbirnie in tribute to Porterfield.

“William has been an amazing person to have in the dressing room, as a player and as a person. A lot of the foundations that were laid for this current Irish team were done by him and teams that came before us.

“He always epitomised what we wanted to do as a team – his work ethic, his attitude on the pitch and his passion for the game. He’ll be a huge loss around the senior group, but we wish him well in his next stage of life, and hope he has an amazing time.

“Undoubtedly he’ll be a success at whatever path he chooses to go down.”

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