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George Dobell at Edgbaston
May 27, 2014
Warwickshire 294 for 5 (Porterfield 118, Westwood 99) trail Somerset 411 by 117 runs
When William Porterfield joined Warwickshire from Gloucestershire ahead of the 2011 season it was seen as a major coup.
The club had tried and failed to lure so many other players to Edgbaston. But much as people accused Ashley Giles, the Warwickshire director of cricket at the time, of exploiting his position as an England selector, the likes of David Sales, Alex Gidman, Dawid Malan, James Taylor, Graham Onions, Steve Kirby, Jon Lewis all said 'thanks, but no thanks' when approached. Giles often laughed when people criticised him for taking advantage of his dual role.
So Porterfield's acquisition in the face of competition from other clubs was celebrated. Much was expected from him.
But life has not progressed as planned for the 29-year-old from Londonderry. Instead of accumulating runs in great quantity, Porterfield has found himself relegated to the 2nd XI at times and, in his fourth season with the club, averages only 26.62 in first-class cricket for Warwickshire. After starting with two half-centuries in T20 cricket for his new club, he has not managed another since 2011 and seven of his last 11 scores in the competition have been under 10.
Contributions cannot be measured purely in such terms, of course, and Porterfield has proved to be an exceptional catcher (at gully, in particular), a popular and positive presence in the dressing room and a more than useful List A player. He averages 36.41 in the format for Warwickshire and also made a polished first-class century against the MCC in Abu Dhabi in the curtain-raising fixture ahead of the 2013 season. Such is the high regard he is held by the management of the club, that his contract was extended until the end of the 2015 season.
Now he has a Championship century for Warwickshire. It has taken him 44 matches and 69 innings, but he provided a reminder of the reasons the club wanted him in the first place. He pulled well, particularly in the early part of his innings, drove nicely and, even if he became somewhat becalmed against spin at times, battled through to ensure his side averted the danger of the follow-on and, as a consequence, surely made the game safe. It may have been a grim, grey day for most at Edgbaston, but for Porterfield it will always be remembered with a warm glow.
It was the seventh first-class century of his career, his third in the championship and his first in Division One. He has scored three first-class centuries for Ireland as well as six ODI centuries, of which two - against England and Bangladesh - were against ICC Full Member nations.
He survived two or three nervous moments. One edge, off Craig Overton, flew between a slip cordon spread too wide when he had 29, while when he had 62, an edged cut evaded Craig Kieswetter. He was also beaten for pace by the distinctly sharp Jamie Overton on 82 and was fortunate to see his inside edge miss the stumps and run to the boundary. Jamie Overton may be raw - seven no-balls and an economy rate of seven an over tell their own story - but he hurried and troubled the batsmen like no-one else.
Porterfield added 163 for Warwickshire's second wicket with Ian Westwood. Westwood, producing arguably the most fluent batting of his career, looked set for his first Championship century since August 2012 but, edging an attempted cut, became the third man in the match to be dismissed in the 90s.
Both Porterfield and Westwood were in need of runs. The news that club captain Jim Troughton will return to 2nd XI cricket next week following back surgery will only increase competition for places. Jonathan Trott is not expected to be far away from a similar return, while Laurie Evans is too good to linger at that level for long.
Once Porterfield was dismissed, leg-before to one that swung back into him from the impressive Craig Overton, Warwickshire lost three wickets for four runs before the rain that had flirted with the match all day finally settled in. Sam Hain mishit a pull and was caught at midwicket, before Ateeq Javed poked at a good one and edged to the slips.
The forecast for the final day is not good, however, and this pitch holds no fears for batsmen. It will prove hard for either side to conjure a result from this position
It did not help that play was halted by the lightest of rain on several occasions. While pensioners sat, bare-headed and without umbrellas, in bewilderment at the delays, the players and umpires sat in the pavilion. And people wonder why more children are not brought to such games during their half-term break. One day, with the grounds empty and the game crying out for support, the authorities will reflect that they treated the most loyal of paying customers - the county member - with something approaching contempt and regret such foolishness.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: George Dobell
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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