Porterfield glad ‘drum-banging’ has Ireland on Test beat

Ireland’s skipper William Porterfield during the press conference at Malahide Cricket Club, Malahide, Ireland, May 10, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 10 May 2018
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Porterfield glad ‘drum-banging’ has Ireland on Test beat

DUBLIN: William Porterfield will captain Ireland in their inaugural Test proud of the years of campaigning that have led to Friday’s match against Pakistan in Dublin.
Ireland, who famously knocked Pakistan out of the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean, will become the 11th men’s Test nation when the coin is tossed at the Malahide ground.
For Porterfield and his 10 teammates, it promises to be an especially memorable occasion, but he was quick to pay tribute Thursday to all those who had helped make Ireland’s Test debut a reality.
“There has been a lot of banging the drum,” Porterfield told reporters at the Malahide ground.
“It’s going to be a pretty special occasion for the 11 that are lucky enough to take the park tomorrow.
“Everyone that’s ever worn the jersey and done things behind the scenes and devoted their lives to it deserve a lot of credit for what’s going to happen tomorrow.”
The opening batsman added: “We’re obviously pretty excited. It’s been quite a while building up to this since it was announced.
“I am sure there will be a lot of different emotions that will flow through everyone over the next 24 hours, but excitement is the main one.”
Although both Ireland and Afghanistan were granted Test status by the International Cricket Council last year, neither of the newcomers can expect to be involved in full-length Test series anytime soon.
But one-off games, as was the case with Sri Lanka at the start of their introduction to Test cricket, could yet be the best way to ease them into the five-day format.
“It is going to be very hard to organize three or five-game series with the cost that is involved in organizing them,” said Porterfield, who played English county cricket for both Gloucestershire and Warwickshire.
“It would be great if we could play quite a few Tests a year, but it is not financially viable as it stands,” the 33-year-old added. “That is what it is.”
Ireland now have a first-class structure involving three teams — Leinster, North and North West and Porterfield said establishing a solid foundation at domestic level was central to Irish cricket’s long-term development.
“I think the biggest thing for us is that we need to make our first-class structure — we had a very good game last week — we need to make that sustainable and better and get the volume of fixtures into that and the Wolves system, which is essentially our A team.”


‘If home crowds can’t help you, nothing can’, says golf star Rory McIlroy

Updated 45 min 58 sec ago
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‘If home crowds can’t help you, nothing can’, says golf star Rory McIlroy

  • The world number three is the bookmakers’ favorite to lift the Claret Jug for the second time on Sunday
  • British Open returns to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951

PORTRUSH, United Kingdom: Rory McIlroy said on Wednesday that he is not feeling extra pressure this week as the British Open returns to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951, and is hoping home fans can help him end a five-year major drought.
The world number three is the bookmakers’ favorite to lift the Claret Jug for the second time on Sunday, despite not having claimed a major title since the 2014 PGA Championship.
He said in the past he struggled being the focus of attention at Irish Opens, although he did win that tournament in 2016.
“I think it’s probably easier this week because it’s such a big tournament,” said McIlroy, who opens his title tilt at Royal Portrush at 0909 GMT on Thursday alongside US Open winner Gary Woodland and England’s Paul Casey.
“You’ve got the best players in the world here, and I don’t feel like I’m the center of attention.
“I’m here to enjoy myself. Hopefully it doesn’t take another 68 years for the tournament to come back here. But at the same time, I mightn’t get an opportunity to play an Open Championship here again.
“I’m really just treating it as a wonderful experience and one that I really want to enjoy.
“I’m going to love being out there and having the crowds and having the support. If that can’t help you, then nothing can.”
McIlroy fired a course-record 61 on the Dunluce Links at the age of just 16 in 2005, and is one of three Northern Irish major champions in the field along with Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke.
He said his first memories of Portrush came as a child when watching his father play.
“I remember chipping around the chipping green, being seven or eight years of age, my dad out playing on the Dunluce,” added McIlroy, who played a practice round on Tuesday.
“Portrush ... At least the golf club, has been a big part of my upbringing. It’s sort of surreal that it’s here.
“Even driving in yesterday, when you’re coming in on the road and you look to the right and you’ve got the second tee... I don’t know who was teeing off, maybe (American player) Tony Finau and someone else, (it was) sort of strange to see them here.
“But it’s really cool.”
Since McIlroy’s record the course has been renovated, with the seventh and eighth new holes.
But the 30-year-old said he did not have to spend too much time preparing on the course, such is his familiarity with it.
“I had dinner booked with a parent on Saturday night at 8:00, thinking I’m going to have to spend some time around the greens and just prepare.
“And I got on the road back home and rang them and said, ‘Can we move dinner up?’ Because I finished early. There’s no difference. It’s the same golf course.”
McIlroy has been in strong form this year, winning twice, including the Players’ Championship, and posting 11 top-10 finishes.
He also finished in a tie for second at the Open at Carnoustie last year.
“I think it’s probably the most consistent period of golf I’ve ever played,” the 2014 champion said.