Porterfield’s ‘experience’ sees him return to top of Ireland order against South Africa

Talented Proteas side arrive in Dublin after a winning tour of the West Indies

Opening bat William Porterfield will play his 304th international for Ireland against South Africa at Malahide on Sunday. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho

World Cup Super League: Ireland v South Africa, Malahide, Sunday, 10.45am – Live on BT Sport 2

Long-time Ireland captain William Porterfield will play his 304th international on Sunday when he opens the batting with Paul Stirling in the first of three World Cup Super League games against South Africa at Malahide.

Despite two failures in last month’s series against Netherlands – Porterfield was dropped for the third game – chairman of selectors Andrew White confirmed he had been earmarked for the role against the Proteas, after Kevin O’Brien retired from 50-over cricket, because of his “vast experience”.

With only two opening batsmen named in the 15-man squad, Porterfield’s successor as skipper, Andrew Balbirnie, was able to confirm at Friday’s press conference that the old firm, who have opened the innings together on 155 occasions, will walk out together at least another three times.

“William didn’t go as well as he would have liked in the last series but he showed his durability and experience when scoring a really impressive hundred in the interpro series, so he will come straight back in as opener,” said Balbirnie.


The return from injury of Curtis Campher gives Balbirnie and coach Graham Ford a decision to make in the morning, but as he is still not fit to bowl a full 10 overs, it is likely that George Dockrell will be given a chance to nail down the No 5 slot in the order behind Harry Tector and ahead of wicketkeeper Lorcan Tucker.

It is Ireland’s first home one-day international for exactly two years and apart from Andy McBrine, the lead slow bowler, it will be an entirely new bowling attack.

Craig Young and Josh Little took 15 Dutch wickets in Utrecht so it will Barry McCarthy’s place under threat in the pace attack, especially as Graeme McCarter is in form and available to return after an absence of six years from the international arena.

Balbirnie, though, was realistic in admitting Ireland were underdogs against a South Africa team which has just flown in from the Caribbean where they won both Test matches and the T20 series 3-2.

It will be completely different conditions that they will have to adapt to but Balbirnie does not expect them to take too long acclimatising.

“Their players and bowlers have found a bit of form so they will be confident,” he said. “They play all round the world so I expect them to adapt pretty quickly and we will have to be at our best and whatever comes in front of us we must be ready to go.

“But the beauty of this format is that you have these opportunities to put yourselves on a platform against the world’s best and we are ready for the challenge.”

In Kasigo Rabada and Lungi Ngidi, South Africa have two bowlers ranked in the top 20 in ODIs although the biggest danger could come from the spinners, with Tabraiz Shamsi, the world’s best T20 bowler, coming off the back of a superb series against West Indies.

All four games at Malahide over the next nine days, including the first T20I between the teams, have been sold out with a restricted capacity of 560.


IRELAND: A Balbirnie (capt), M Adair, C Campher, G Dockrell, G Kennedy, J Little, A McBrine, G McCarter, B McCarthy, W Porterfield, S Singh, P Stirling, H Tector, L Tucker, C Young.

SOUTH AFRICA: T Bavuma (capt), Q de Kock, B Fortuin, B Hendricks, R Hendricks, H Klaasen, G Linde, K Maharaj, J Malan, A Markram, D Miller, W Mulder, L Ngidi, A Nortje, A Phellukwayo, K Rabada, T Shamsi, R van der Dussen, K Verreynne, L Wiliams.