ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
India v Ireland, Group B, World Cup 2011, Bangalore
We have to start again - Porterfield
Sharda Ugra in Bangalore
March 5, 2011
Like everyone in the world of work, William Porterfield is heading into a weekend and wants to forget about what the middle of the week was like. Unlike for everyone else, Sunday will not be a day of rest for him, and he thinks putting the past behind is mandatory. "First of all, we have to put Wednesday behind us," the Ireland captain said, just over 24 hours from the time he will walk out with India captain MS Dhoni for the toss of the World Cup game at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Porterfield's Wednesday was made up of the match that has put Ireland's cricketers on the front pages of their newspapers back home and top of the mind of the cricketing public, particularly in the heated heart of the tournament's biggest hosts. A match that should have been a regulation two points for one team has suddenly turned into a contest between a high-profile, high-coverage outfit regarded as among the biggest favourites to lift the World Cup and a squad who, from the tournament's warm-up games up to Wednesday, have never left the field without a scrap. Victory over their historic and cultural rivals England on Wednesday has suddenly made Ireland genuine contenders for a quarter-final spot but Porterfield wants to brush all that under his team's suddenly-airborne carpet.
"We put in a good performance on Wednesday and created a wee bit of history there. Now we've got to start all over again," Porterfield said. His voice carries the vocabulary and echo of Ireland's strong, north-western 'Derry' accent that makes listeners from other parts of the cricket world lean forward, mouths open, in an attempt to both concentrate and comprehend. There is possibly no other cricket captain in the world who speaks in Porterfield's quick bursts of rapid speech or can use the word 'wee' on the way to sounding tough and purposeful.
He said, "We have a bigger challenge ahead of us, we're playing India, we must take good things from the [Wednesday] game and the biggest things for ourselves is to go out fresh on the pitch and concentrate on what's at hand."
The team, he said, wouldn't be daunted by going out before a 39,000-strong crowd in Bangalore because their opening World Cup game in Dhaka had given them useful practice. "When we started the competition we knew we were playing two of the home nations in the group stage and they were going to be massive games." Indian support in Bangalore he thought would be similar to the "pretty fanatical supporters" Ireland had encountered in Dhaka. "I don't think that India's going to be too different from that; there's going to be a few more in tomorrow [Sunday] night than what there were in Bangladesh." He paused for the briefest of seconds saying. "India in India is a pretty special occasion but it's a challenge we are looking forward to."
What Ireland have braced themselves for is the possibility of a large 300-plus chase and Porterfield said it was why his team had chosen a long batting line-up, something facilitated by their many bowling options. The return of Andre Botha, their best death-overs bowler who was out of the England game due to an nth hour groin injury, would help the balance of the team but his absence now is not seen as critical as it may have been before the England match.
"It didn't really affect us because we've got so many options with the ball. Whoever comes up with the goods on the day, we just go with that. It could be that someone doesn't bowl, but as long as the team is doing well players just have to deal with that." He mentioned Paul Stirling's ten overs versus England as an example of making the team's options work. "He too pace off the ball, and bowled very well for us and it has kind of gone without mentioning. He took 1 for 45 off his ten through the middle overs which was crucial in helping restrict England."
Stirling is Porterfield's opening partner, and was used as a bowler in the England match ahead of the team's regular batting allrounder Kevin O'Brien, who went on to have what Porterfield would no doubt call a "wee" hand to play in the victory. With a poker face, Porterfield went on, "I don't think Kevin was too upset with that [not bowling]. He would take 100 off 50 balls and not having to bowl any day."
Questioned several times about the pressure of the crowd, Porterfield was quick, bald and revealing in his summary of what he expected. "If you can't go out there and get up for a game in front of 40-50,000 people, then I think there's something wrong with you. Whether they are for you or against you, it doesn't matter."
Win or lose on Sunday, Porterfield would want his team to hijack the name that the US' University of Notre Dame gives all its sports teams. They call them the Fighting Irish.
He understands the Indian mentality better and doesn't have to deal with star players on the wane
Test cricket needs to be given back to the people. Everybody must buy in to this bigger picture or the moment will pass us by