Ireland's William Porterfield retires from international cricket

Ireland's longest-serving captain William Porterfield has announced his retirement from international and representative cricket.

By Kevin McLaughlin
Thursday, 16th June 2022, 4:41 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th June 2022, 4:43 pm

The Killymallaght man leaves the game with many records and memorable performances, including being the longest-serving Ireland Men’s captain by some considerable distance.

Porterfield, 37, amassed 310 caps (across all formats) for Ireland after making his international debut in a First-class match against Namibia in May 2006. He ends his career as the third most capped Irish international and second-highest run-scorer for Ireland.

The left-handed top-order batsman, who started out playing his club cricket with Donemana, struck the first of his 18 centuries for Ireland against the MCC in a one-day match at Lord’s in August 2006, going on to register 9,507 runs for Ireland at an average of 31.07, and a best of 186 against Namibia in 2015.

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Of his more iconic innings, Irish fans fondly remember his 107 against Pakistan in Adelaide at the 2015 Men’s World Cup and his 112 against England in an ODI at Malahide in 2013 as two of his best knocks.

A renowned slip fielder and inner-ring fielder, he also took 146 catches and effected 24 run outs during his international career.

Porterfield, who will now be turning his focus to coaching, made the move early to base himself in England, after featuring for the MCC Young Cricketers, and had a successful county career with Gloucestershire and Warwickshire.

In latter years, he became a stalwart of the North West Warriors in the Inter-Provincial Series in Ireland, showing his enduring run-scoring abilities finishing fourth-highest run-scorer in both the domestic 50-over and T20 competitions in 2021.

William Porterfield in T20 action against India in 2018. Picture by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

As a captain, Porterfield led the senior Irish side an incredible 253 times - taking over from former skipper Trent Johnston in 2008 at the age of 23 (the second-most appearances as Irish captain was Johnston with 60).

Adding to his longevity in leadership roles, Porterfield had also led national youth sides from Under-13s level upwards, and also took the reins of an ICC Combined Associate and Affiliate XI side that played an England XI in 2012.

He led Ireland to two 50-over World Cups and five T20 World Cups, but perhaps his most significant moment as captain was leading Ireland Men’s team out at its historic first-ever Test match in May 2018.

Speaking from home about his retirement, the former Donemana man said: “It’s been an honour to represent my country for 16 years - it’s something I had always wanted to do since I was a child. I have to say, though, it’s a little surreal at the moment having made the decision to step away and retire, but I’ve been fortunate to play since 2006 and it’s been an incredible journey.

Ireland's William Porterfield in test against at Malahide

“During my career, we’ve gone from an amateur team right through to now being a Test nation. From those before me, and along my journey, we have hopefully built an infrastructure that will allow the game in Ireland to continue to flourish. All I ever wanted to do was leave the shirt in a better place and leave the team in a better place, and hopefully I’ve played a part in doing that.

“As I said, it feels a little surreal today, but I also feel the time is right to be stepping away - I’ve been given the opportunity to join Gloucestershire as a Consultant Coach until the end of the season, and these opportunities don’t come around very often.

"It’s a decision I’ve been thinking long and hard about over the last week or so - and I’d like to thank Cricket Ireland for allowing me to get up and going in the role over the last while. Coaching is something I’d like to be involved in next, and after talking to my fiancé Hayley, my dad and a few other people I have decided to pursue this opportunity.

“There are so many memories that I will take away from my career, but one of my most treasured memories is receiving my first cap from the great Roy Torrens.

"Roy is a legend in Irish cricket, and up until he unfortunately passed away, he was pretty much at every one of my games in some capacity. He epitomised what Cricket Ireland and Irish cricket was to me, really someone I looked up to.

“Then there’s Sabina Park - where I played my last match for Ireland. It’s the ground where a lot of people say put Irish cricket on the map. That ground holds so many memories for me, right through from the Pakistan win in 2007 to walking off the field back in January having beaten the West Indies 2-1.

"In the build up to the games, a lot of the younger members of the squad were reminiscing as to where they were when we beat Pakistan on that day, and how that inspired them, and that was a lot of what it was about for me.

"The realisation for me that I was the only surviving member of that team on the pitch that day was when Mackey, our liaison officer from the 2007 World Cup, called from the stand to say hello and asked who else was here from that trip! It was only Nobby who was there on comms at the games, so that did make me feel a little old!

“There are so many people I’d like to thank for being part of my cricket journey, my parents for everything over the years, Hayley my fiancé, Lily my step-daughter for their sacrifices over the years, and the many teammates and coaches.

“I have had so many great coaches - right through from junior cricket to now. Brían O’Rourke was one who was there looking after us from a very young age. He took us on a lot of tours, helped us develop - he’s been a great coach and presence in Irish Cricket over the years and helped to mentor many of my age that came through. There’s Adi Birrell who gave me my debut and gave me belief that I could make it as a professional cricketer.

"There’s Simmo [Phil Simmons] who really helped me through some hard times especially around the leadership after I had taken over at a relatively young age. Bracers who I enjoyed working with at GCCC and Ireland. And then there’s Fordy (Graham Ford) who has had a great impact on the squad that is coming through. And now Heinrich (Malan) who is taking Irish cricket into an exciting stage.

“When I think of all my teammates I played with, there are just too many to thank individually. But to get to play with close mates for so long like Gary Wilson, Paul Stirling Balbo (Andrew Balbirnie) and Scra (Andy McBrine), Kev (O’Brien), Boyd (Rankin), Joycey (Ed Joyce), Murts (Tim Murtagh) but to name a few, having those lads around for so long was brilliant. Then going back to those in TJ’s era - playing with the likes of Kyle (McCallan) and Whitey (Andrew White), as well as John Boy (John Mooney) - really everyone I played with over such a long time I just want to say thanks.

“I would also like to that Cricket Ireland as an organisation for giving me the backing and support to not only play for my country for so long, but captain my country for 11 and a half years.

“I would like to say a special thank you to Gloucestershire CCC and Warwickshire CCC for giving me the opportunity to learn and develop my game over a 10 year spell in County Cricket. To have the opportunity to win every domestic trophy in England, is something I’ll always treasure.

“I’d like to also thank all of those at Cricket Ireland and the North West Cricket Union. Richard Holdsworth and Warren Deutrom have been fantastic support, while in the North West, people like Peter McCartney, Ian McGregor, Gary Wilson and big Boyd who is coaching now have been immense. Both Cricket Ireland and the North West have helped me get a start in my coaching journey, and for that I am grateful.

“Finally, the journey from amateur to fully-contracted players - both men and women - in Ireland has been rewarding one for all involved, and when it comes to player welfare and support another project I am proud of is playing a part in getting the Irish Cricketers Association set up.

"As a professional cricketer in England, I could see the way the PCA really supports the players, and it really helped lay the foundations for the ICA to take on a similar role here in Ireland. Looking after player welfare, not only during a playing career, but providing support after - the PCA have been great at that, and that is the direction the ICA is going. I look forward to seeing the ICA grow over coming years.”