Ireland may not possess a silvery stream of batting superstars; the kinds worshipped for possessing greatness such as a Sachin, Kallis, Ponting, Lara, Dravid, Sanga, and others.
Ireland’s cricketers may not capture the world’s attention through unique exploits such as removing their shirts from the balcony of a Lord’s. No one has spotted them doing the pushups on any cricket ground.
Nor do Ireland’s batsmen jog around a venue having struck winning runs marking a lap of victory. They resist the urge to uproot the middle stump overcoming the rush of emotions.
But what Ireland does have, in fact, is a legion of a rarity.
Most of its contemporary batsmen are part of a generation that enabled Ireland to take its first steps in International cricket. They’ve all, in their respective strengths, been the many captains, whose task has been to navigate the mothership in the right direction.
This is an extraordinary bracket that was around collectively when Ireland entered its debut international contest. This group was around, in moments, that both lifted Irish cricket to glory- for instance, its participation in its maiden world cup- and brought the team to an emotional downpour, following the team’s failure to qualify for the 2019 World Cup.
In that regard, the team owes a lot to this rare bracket of cricketers, to which one William Porterfield belongs, in all his might.
He is not only a batsman possessing immense class. He’s not only an athlete of the very highest standards of fitness. Above all, he’s a player with his heart in the right direction.
There’s nothing that William Porterfield does not possess in order to be ruled as one of the game’s greats.
It’s, therefore, both humbling and fascinating to know that in its bid to celebrate this highest run scorer for Ireland in limited-overs cricket, the country neither goes abruptly wild nor eschews the mannerisms you’d expect from a thoroughly gentle crowd.
But there’s something about the fan vis-a-vis William Porterfield
Cricket’s enterprising lot, that often resists exploring newer boundaries of fandom, besotted with the urge to stick with usual biggies (top names of ICC rankings) might be missing out on a lot in Ireland’s case.
No other Irish batsman has been able to carve a record 3200 plus runs from the opening position other than William Porterfield.
No other Irish batsman has been able to strike as many hundreds in 50-over cricket as William Porterfield.
His isn’t a constantly flickering myth. His is a forever glowing enigma.
William Porterfield’s conduct in the game bears resemblance to stats his bat has birthed at the back of unflinching focus and boundless reserves of concentration.
From 122 ODIs, he’s compiled 11 hundreds.
This is, 4 more than Paul Sterling, often his fellow opener; 9 more than the grizzly Kevin O’Brien; 10 more than Niall’O Brien and, 5 more than Ed Joyce’s tally.
But that told, Porterfield, who’s literally nurtured Ireland, cultivating a rich harvest for his team basis his committed batting in limited overs cricket would be aware of the new challenge that awaits his skill.
Earlier this year, as Ireland walked perhaps the most anticipated moment of its cricketing journey, a generation wearing whites for the first time, there came a wrinkle in time.
Not before their contest against Pakistan, at Dublin, amid thousands of enthralled fans, had Ireland ever played another Test. For William Porterfield, this marked a moment where batsmen like him- virtuous and full of daring- held a baton, in the form of a bat. It was a landmark moment.
The job’s not done yet for William Porterfield
In the closely-contested match, Porterfield, post his first-inning debacle, hung around for a record 195-minutes, in his arduous 32. This would be the second longest knock played by an Irish batsman, following Kevin O’Brien’s magnanimous effort: that 118 that came off 344 minutes.
As the Irish captain; a people’s leader and man-motivator; turns 34, there’s at least, 3 years ahead of him. There’s an opportunity to create history once again. In the next 3 years, Ireland will be playing a great deal of cricket, coming a full circle in its cricketing journey.
To that end, one can only expect this frontline runner of Irish cricket- the one who bats with the elan of a decorated Olympian- to not only further improve his game but also guide his affable army of men, with whom he likes to play around instead of flexing shoulders with arrogance at the front.
What’ll also motivate this gentle leader would be to hone his skills against spin and leave the next generation of players to follow in awe.