Porterfield inspired by McCullum magic
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
William Porterfield signed off from Warwickshire on Friday night by batting with Brendan McCullum, certainly the most exciting and arguably the best Twenty20 batsman in the world at the moment.
The Ireland captain scored just 11 of the 37 runs in the undefeated third wicket partnership, content to watch (and learn) from the other end as the New Zealand skipper took Warwickshire to 242 with his personal contribution the little matter of 158 not out. He faced just 64 balls and hit 13 fours and 11 sixes.
This afternoon, when Porterfield opens the batting for Ireland against the UAE at Stormont (2.15pm) in the first official warm--up game ahead of the World Twenty20 Qualifiers - which start on Friday - he will have vivid memories of that "special knock".
"He's one of the only people in the world who is capable of doing that on a consistent basis," said Porterfield.
"It is pretty freakish what he can do and fantastic to see at first hand and you can learn quite a bit from him.
"He's a pretty chilled out guy, who keeps it pretty simple.
"Just watch the ball and hit it, dont over-complicate matters and obviously he has the ability to back that up."
The Ireland batsmen, including Porterfield, who scored 127 not out against the USA in the last qualifying tournament two years ago, will be looking to back up their ability over the next three weeks, culminating, they hope, in a fourth successive final on July 26.
And the hard work starts today, according to the skipper.
"We have five days together, including two games games and the chance to get out there in match practice, match scenarios and execute under pressure is key in the build-up to the tournament.
"Every warm-up game (they also play Oman tomorrow afternoon) is important and while the result is not the be all and end all it is nice to get into the winning habit."
The UAE - who will be one of the seven teams in Group B based in Scotland for the first two weeks - have been regular opponents for Ireland in all formats over the last few years so there should be no surprises.
"But it will be good practice and it is also good to play at Stormont where our first four games (next Friday, Sunday, Monday and Wednesday) are played."
Porterfield all but confirmed that Ireland are likely to play their first choice 11 in the warm-up matches, rather than give all 15 squad members a run-out.
"It is important for the lads to perform as and when needed so that's the batsmen in the right position and the bowlers their three or four overs as required," he said.
Alex Cusack was the only player who did not take a full part in training at Belmont yesterday but otherwise everyone is raring to go and while the batting is expected to fire , with the county professionals in form, all eyes will be on the pace bowlers who did not distinguish themselves in the two defeats against Scotland last month.
Porterfield's opening partner, Paul Stirling, who is the nearest Ireland have to McCullum, knows how difficult it is for the bowlers in T20 cricket.
"It is a batsman's game and not easy bowling in the first six overs and at the death," said Stirling.
"In the last couple of T20 qualifiers we took stick at the top, like most teams, but dragged it back better than most teams and finished off by beating Canada and the UAE from losing positions.
"This time we haven't got TJ (Trent Johnston) but Craig Young has come in and TK (Tryone Kane) left a good impression in the Scotland games, so this is a good opportunity for these lads to come out and win matches.
"It is our first tournament with a new coach and new faces so it's a fresh start.
"We know most of the oppostion and that's really important as any info on the teams is really important and we are all ready for the UAE again."