Balbirnie succeeds Porterfield as Ireland Test and ODI captain
November 08 2019
Andrew Balbirnie has been appointed Ireland's Test and ODI captain, taking over from the long-serving William Porterfield who stepped down after more than 11 years in the job during which he led the team in 253 matches across formats. The 28-year-old Balbirnie, who made his international debut in 2010, becomes only the fifth man to captain the national side at the senior level. Balbirnie, who will lead his first game on January 7, 2020 in an ODI against West Indies, is no stranger to the leadership role, however, having led the Ireland Under-19 team at the 2010 World Cup.
"To be asked to captain my country is an absolute honour and one that I am very excited about as we move into a busy new year," Balbirnie said. "It's a proud moment not just for me but also for my family and everyone who has been there on my cricket journey so far - especially my coaches, teammates and friends at Pembroke Cricket Club.
"Since 2008 William [Porterfield] has been an amazing leader on and off the field, not just to me but anyone who has been lucky to represent Ireland. Taking over from our greatest captain will certainly be a hard act to follow but one I'm looking forward to getting into. William still has a huge role to play in this team going forward and I look forward to working with him over the next couple of years," he added.
Despite giving up a post he has held since taking over from Trent Johnston in 2008, the 35-year-old Porterfield is not hanging up his playing boots just yet. After having captained national youth sides from the U-13 level, the senior side at two 50-over World Cups, five T20 WCs and for Ireland's inaugural Test match last year, Porterfield is determined to play a part in the transitional phase.
"I feel, and in consultation with Cricket Ireland, that now is the right time to hand over that mantle," Porterfield said. "With the ODI league starting in the summer it will allow Balbo time to get into the swing of things. I feel that the selectors have made a great choice in appointing Balbo and that it has come at a great time for him personally being on top of his game, and with more to come. Having spoken to him, I know how honoured and excited he is to get going. I'm looking forward to helping and supporting Balbo in any way I can, and seeing him lead Ireland forward.
"It has been an incredible journey, and a fantastic honour to have captained my country over the past 11 and a half years. There have been many highs, along with a few lows along the way, but I can honestly say that it has been thoroughly enjoyable. To have been able to lead Ireland out at various World Cups, through to our first Test against Pakistan, and again at Lord's in the summer, have been but a few of these highlights. I feel incredibly lucky and privileged to have done so.
"The one thing that I will not miss, though, is knocking on someone's hotel door to tell them they will not be playing!" he signed off.
In the coming season, Ireland are scheduled to play a six-match series against the West Indies, followed by scheduled tours to Sri Lanka, India to play Afghanistan and Zimbabwe, before returning to Ireland for a busy home season.
https://m.cricbuzz.com/cricket-news/110 ... di-captain
2019 was always going to be a busy year in Irish Cricket with the extended FTP fixture list as well as the World T20 qualifiers. It was disappointing not to be part of the ODI World Cup in the summer but our absence was something of a blessing in disguise as it meant that the regeneration of the senior international squad could begin in earnest. 2019 would see a new crop of young players get their first taste of international Cricket while there would also be opportunities for other players on the fringes of the squad to stake a claim for a regular place in the team.
That was the reason for the Ireland Wolves squad, led by Harry Tector – less than a month after his 19th birthday, ringing in 2019 in Colombo ahead of a 7-game series against Sri Lanka A. With the exception of a drawn FC game, Sri Lanka A won the games comfortably but there were signs that a number of players were ready to make the next step in their fledgling international careers. Five players from that tour would make their international debuts before the year was out.
Oman & Afghanistan tours
The first of these was all-rounder Shane Getkate, who was named in the squad for a Quadrangular T20I tournament hosted by Oman where we were also joined by Scotland and the Netherlands. We would become very acquainted with these teams over the next ten months. We had fallen off the pace badly in the shortest format in recent years. Since the Netherlands blasted us out of the 2014 World T20, our ranking had slipped as low as 18th so big improvements were needed.
Gary Wilson, who took over the T20 captaincy last year, was unavailable due to an eye operation so Paul Stirling stepped into the role for this tour. The first game of the year against the hosts saw a new-look opening partnership with Kevin O’Brien joining Stirling at the top of the order. We opened with a win, Stirling’s 71 being the stand-out knock in our total of 159/5. The Omani chase was on course until the 10th over, when Simi Singh took 3 wickets in just five balls. The hosts never regained momentum and finished 15 runs short.
Next up was a defeat to our Celtic neighbours Scotland. Batting first, our new opening pair clicked, with both Stirling and O’Brien getting half-centuries. The stand of 115 was broken in the 12th over. Although the innings faltered after that, 180 looked like a challenging total but the big-hitting Scottish top order made short work of it, comfortably reaching the target for the loss of just four wickets. We finished off the tournament with a win over the Netherlands, reaching the target of 182 with a six off the last ball by Stuart Poynter. Andy Balbirnie gave an early indication of the year he was going to have with 83 off 50 balls – his best T20 knock so far. The win ensured that Scotland won the tournament on NRR.
Then it was off to the northern Indian city of Dehradun, which was acting as a home from home with our former Associate rivals Afghanistan for our first proper tour which began with 3 T20Is where our shortcomings in the shorter format were quickly exposed again.
First up was a five wicket defeat defending 132. We batted much better in the second game. Stirling set a new Irish T20I record with a personal knock of 91, we had our highest first wicket partnership (126) and put up an impressive 194-6 off our 20 overs.
There was one slight problem though………………… we were chasing a gargantuan target of 278.
Afghanistan set a few records of their own in this match.
We were set slightly more modest target in the third and final T20I (210). O’Brien top scored with 74 but we finished up 32 runs short thanks to a five wicket haul for Rashid Khan.
Will Porterfield returned as captain for the ODIs and immediately gave a debut to batsman James McCollum. However, his debut innings would be short-lived as he was trapped in front by Mujeeb first ball. It was one of many wickets that fell cheaply. Stirling batted bravely, making 89 but only Dockrell gave any kind of decent support as we collapsed to 161 all out which Afghanistan chased easily with 5 wickets to spare.
In the second ODI, left arm spinner James Cameron-Dow came in for his first cap. The Afghan top order set a good platform but wickets from McBrine, Dockrell and Singh slowed them up. The hosts were at 250-7 in the penultimate over when rain came and didn’t go away, denying us a chance to chase the target.
Things finally clicked for us in the 3rd ODI. We restricted Afghanistan to 256-8 despite a brilliant late rally from Najibullah Zadran. The chase got off to a ropey start however and we were a very precarious 35-3 when Balbirnie decided enough was enough. He finished on 145* and with good support from Dockrell, who hit his second ODI 50 we finally got our first win of the tour.
We went from the sublime to the ridiculous in the 4th game. Having been set a modest 224 to win, we folded like deck chairs, only managing 114 in reply. We redeemed ourselves and tied the series with another win in the final game. Again, we fielded first and some tight bowling and fielding gave us a target of 217 which chased easily. Stirling top scored with 70.
The tour closed with the first Test match between the sides and an early opportunity for the two new Test teams to get their first win in the long format. I think it was Geoffrey Boycott who said that you can’t win a Test match on the first morning but you can lose one – well this proved to spot on in this case. Batting first, we went from 37-1 to 62-7 in less than an hour. You could be forgiven for thinking we wanted the match over in two days so we could go on the lash for St. Patrick’s Day. A fightback came from the most improbable of sources however. Tim Murtagh at number 11 scored a maiden half century, dragging us up to 172 all out. Afghanistan were solid in reply and finished Day 1 on 90-2, both Irish wickets coming from Cameron-Dow.
We spent most of Day 2 in the field as Afghanistan were eventually all out with a lead of 142. Stuart Thompson was the pick of the Irish bowlers with 3 wickets. Porterfield’s fairly shite tour with the bat ended two balls into the second innings without scoring. Stirling didn’t last long on the morning of Day 3 but Balbirnie’s maiden Test half century and a composed knock from the newbie McCollum (39) put us ahead. O’Brien, who scored the first Irish Test century against Pakistan last year, added 56 but a middle order collapse put Afghanistan back in the driving seat. Yet again the tail wagged as Cameron-Dow and Murtagh gave us some chance but 146 was always going to be a difficult total to defend. Afghanistan chased it for the loss of just 3 wickets.
And so ended a busy start to the year. As the team headed home for a summer of home fixtures and the domestic season there was plenty to ponder.
Stay tuned for Part 2…..
ODI v England
West Indies/Bangladesh Tri-Series
ODI series v Afghanistan
ODI/T20I v Zimbabwe
The Traitor brought his gang of Sasanachs over to Malahide for the first home game of the season. Overnight rain meant a delayed start and a reduced 45 over game. We were sent in to bat first and face Jofra Archer in his ODI debut. His first ball was driven through the covers by Stirling to start a solid opening partnership which brought the 50 up in the 11th over. But when Stirling got out in the next over, Porterfield, Tucker and O’Brien followed soon after. When Balbirnie was somewhat controversially stumped by Foakes, the outlook was not good. All-rounder Mark Adair came in at 8 on his debut and made a brisk 32 before becoming Archer’s first international victim. He had good support from Dockrell as we laboured to 198 all out.
It looked like a straightforward chase for England, despite their experimental lineup but when Dockrell brilliantly caught a pull shot from Vince at midwicket off the bowling of Josh Little, they quickly went from 34-0 to 66-5. Little, the 19-year old left arm seamer would eventually take 4 wickets on his ODI debut, including the well-received scalp of The Traitor for 0. England regrouped with Foakes forming good partnerships with Willey and Tom Curran but the game hinged on the first ball of the 35th over when Murtagh struck Foakes’ pads. Umpire said not out but crucially Porterfield decided against reviewing only for TV replays to show three reds. Foakes went on to finish on 61* as England wrapped up the win in the penultimate over.
May 5th saw two very contrasting results. The senior side began the Tri-Series against West Indies with a horror show at Clontarf. A below full-strength West Indies piled on 381 for the loss of just three wickets and we only managed 185 in response. As that massacre was taking place, Ireland Wolves pulled off probably the most impressive win of the year by beating a strong Bangladesh team by 88 runs. I don’t know if it was one of the games where Shakib Al Hasan was on the take but it was some result nonetheless.
James McCollum was soon recalled to the senior squad on the back of a century for the Wolves in that game and immediately promoted to the top of the order for the second meeting with West Indies in the Tri-Series. Porterfield, struggling for runs all year, was bumped down to No.4. The new opener was caught behind for just 5 but Stirling and Balbirnie ensured there was no repeat of the collapse in the previous game by putting on a partnership of 146. Stirling departed for 77 but Balbirnie went on to get his second ton of the year. O’Brien added a further 63, helping us reach a very competitive 327. However, we were nowhere near as effective with the ball as the Windies reached the target with 13 balls to spare. It was a similar tale against Bangladesh, Stirling’s first century of the year (130) and Porterfield’s 92 helping us to 292 but again the bowling was toothless as Bangladesh never looking in danger of losing.
We then headed up to Belfast where we drew another ODI series with Afghanistan. The bowlers redeemed themselves in the first match by which we won by 72 runs. Batting first on a difficult track we made just 210 thanks to another good knock by Stirling (71) while the restoration of Porterfield’s mojo continued with his second half century in as many games. The bowling was much better this time. Murtagh and Andy McBrine created pressure up top which Adair and Rankin capitalised on later. Afghanistan were rolled over for 138. Afghanistan tied the series with a convincing win in the second match.
Zimbabwe were next up for ODI and T20I series. Their tour got off to a bad start with a loss to Ireland Wolves and it wouldn’t get much better. One notable absentee for the ODIs was Gary Wilson, who was replaced behind the stumps by Lorcan Tucker. Andy Balbirnie’s third century of the year and yet another 50 from Paul Stirling set up a four-wicket win in the first ODI. He notched up yet another in the second ODI while McCollum and Tucker also reached that milestone for the first time in the same innings. Tim Murtagh’s first 5 wicket haul of the year sealed the series win. McCollum followed up with his second half century in the final ODI to complete a series whitewash.
The first T20I was rained off but we continued our winning ways continued in the second. In a shortened to a 13 over game, Stirling was at his destructive best, scoring 83 off just 36 balls to make short work of a 132 target. Leg-spinning all-rounder Gareth Delany came in for his debut and while his first two overs in international cricket were expensive, he would go on to make an impact with the bat later in the year. Zimbabwe tied the series with a comfortable victory in the final game. Our innings didn’t get going until the last 10 overs thanks to an impressive cameo by Adair but 171 looked at least 30 short of what was required and so it proved.
Then it was on to the showpiece of the summer – our first Test match at Lord’s. England may have been on a post-World cup win hangover but our preparation wasn’t helped with our first class domestic competition being blighted by weather. The match itself ended as more or less everyone expected – an easy win for England inside three days but no one expected what happened on the first morning.
In bowler friendly conditions and Tim Murtagh with the new ball, you would have fancied us to get a few wickets in the first session but England all out for 88 before lunch? We were in dreamland. We were ahead with just two wickets lost thanks to another Test 50 from Balbirnie but while we gave ourselves a great chance of an unlikely win in the first session, in hindsight we effectively lost it in the last session of the day by not batting into Day 2.
The second Day was a punishing one with the heat (one of the hottest days ever recorded in London). England restored the damage of their first innings disaster. We rallied well in the evening session and had England 9 down with a lead of 180 at close of play. What proved to be the final day was much different with overcast conditions and the floodlights turned on. It actually got off to the perfect start for us, with the final English wicket falling with the first ball. However, it was noted about the ball that uprooted Ollie Stone’s off stump that if Stuart Thompson could swing it like that, what could Broad and Woakes do? We were like lambs to the slaughter as they had that Duke ball on the end of a string. There was a small consolation in that we avoided the worst ever Test innings but still…… 38 all out. Harsh realities of Test Cricket bit us hard.
Focus would now switch to the shortest format in the lead-up to the World T20 Qualifiers.
Some un-surprising but disappointing news..
https://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id ... lesex-deal
...and some surprising but not disappointing news
https://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id ... 0i-captain
As the evenings started to close in, the domestic season – or as much of it that could be played between rain delays, was completed. All six games in the first class competition were rain-affected draws, with Leinster retaining their title. The Dublin based team also added the One-Day Cup to their trophy haul. Half of the T20 competition was completely washed out also. Northern Knights winning their first title since their success in the One-Day Cup in 2013.
T20 franchise Cricket was also due come to these shores in September with the inaugural Euro T20 Slam, comprising of two teams from Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands. An impressive roster of international talent was drafted – including The Traitor, who was due to captain the Dublin franchise. However the organisers were beset by financial issues and the tournament was officially postponed until 2020 but whether it ever happens is anyone’s guess.
So, to fill in the gap, an international Tri-Series in Dublin between ourselves, Scotland and the Netherlands was hastily arranged. This series saw two more debut caps awarded to David Delany, cousin of Gareth and the Wolves captain Harry Tector. After the first game against the Netherlands was washed out, we got off to a fine start against Scotland. Paul Stirling was absent with injury so Gareth Delany was promoted up the order to open with O’Brien and in only his second international, scored his maiden half century (52 off just 28 balls). An equally quick 63 from Balbirnie helped us chase 193 with 14 balls to spare.
A pattern which would repeat itself for the rest of the year emerged in the next game against the Netherlands. A good start with plenty of runs at the top of the order, most notably a 60 from the newbie Tector but the middle order slowed the rate down badly and what was looking like a 200+ total ended up being 181, which the Netherlands chased comfortably. It was looking like a similar story for the final game against Scotland. This time we made 186 and although we removed two of Scotland’s dangermen early, their third wicket partnership clicked and they needed just 29 of 19 to win the series. Berrington tried to make that 23 off 17 but was caught in the deep and we eventually won the game and the series by just one run.
More air miles were then clocked up with another Oman tournament before the World T20 Qualifier in UAE. We finished second in Oman with a below par performance against the hosts being the only blemish on an otherwise good warm-up. The most notable performance came against Hong Kong, where O’Brien became the first Irish batsman to score a T20I Century – and the first to score centuries in all formats. Although we had got our Full Membership status since the last World T20, there was no room for complacency in the qualifiers for next years edition. Having said that, even allowing for the transitional phase the team was at, it would have been considered a disaster if we didn’t claim one of the six qualifying places. We ended up qualifying at the top of our group – and avoiding the lottery of the play-offs, but we survived a couple of horror shows on the way.
We got the ball rolling with an easy win over Hong Kong. Just two weeks earlier, Kevin O’Brien smashed 124 against the same opposition in Oman. He just missed out on repeating that feat this time by a narrow margin of….. 124 runs. He was run out without facing a ball. Balbirnie top scored with 70 in an 8 wicket victory. Despite a hard-earned 72 from Stirling in the next game, we were rolled over by UAE for just 125 and lost by 5 wickets.
We bounced back in the next game against one of the favourites Oman. Balbirnie was missing due to illness but young Gareth Delany came in at No.3 and hit a brilliant 89*. Yet again however, our inconsistency reared its ugly head against Canada. This time there was no big partnership at the top of the order and again the middle order failed to step up to the mark and we finished 10 runs short of our target of 156. What that meant was we would require other results to go our way to avoid the play-offs.
We did what we could do with two convincing wins over Jersey and Nigeria but Oman, who were in pole position to qualify automatically, collapsed against Jersey, meaning we somewhat fortunately claimed the first qualifying spot. We failed to turn that into an overall tournament victory however as the Netherlands continued their irritating habit of beating us games that actually matter. We did finish the tournament – and a busy year with a win in the 3rd place play-off against Namibia. Despite only posting 135, Namibia could only manage 105 in response.
And that was that – on the field anyway. Off it, there have been recent developments. From 2020, Andy Balbirnie will captain the team in all three formats while Tim Murtagh and Stuart Poynter have unfortunately called time on their international careers. I have enjoyed following the team this year. Results have been hit and miss at times but the introduction of new players to the setup was a welcome change. The bar will be raised a lot higher next year so we will see how they get on.
Played 2, Lost 2
Most runs: Andy Balbirnie 146
Most wickets: Tim Murtagh 7
Played 13, won 6, lost 7
Most runs: Paul Stirling 692
Most wickets: Boyd Rankin 20
Played 23, won 13, lost 10
Most runs: Paul Stirling 748
Most wickets: Mark Adair 27
Not really. While he was great for us, he was still a player we would need to replace sooner rather than later. His decision just moves that process forward.
We had 3 players still contracted with English counties at the start of the year. If you asked me to choose one player to stay with us I would have picked Paul Stirling every time.
Struggled for most of what would turn out to be his final year as captain. Benefited from moving down to No.4 for the home ODIs and recovered his form. His place as Test opener looks secure for next year at least. 6/10
Gave us the best news story of the year by committing to continue his international career and backed it up with some great knocks. Still hasn’t hit a Test innings of any real significance but in his natural milieu of limited overs cricket he was outstanding – scoring 50 or more in 16 out of 33 games. 9/10
Had a tough introduction to the international scene by getting a first ball duck on his ODI debut. Looked solid at times in the Test matches. Two 50s in the Zimbabwe series suggests that he is learning. 7/10
Established himself as our premier batsman across all the formats. 2 Test 50s, 3 ODI centuries and career best T20I knock. Although T20 wouldn’t be his natural format, he has added more power hitting to his repertoire. Capped off the year by deservedly taking over as captain. 9/10
The big man is getting on a bit but his new role as specialist batsman – and T20 opener has suited him. Completed his set of centuries with his – and Ireland’s first T20I ton to add to his Test and ODI ones. Still can be called upon to bowl the odd over and take wickets. 8/10
Missed the Afghanistan tour with an eye problem and never got going this year, even by his bang average standards. Paid the price by getting replaced as T20 captain. 4/10
Came in to the T20 side after some fine domestic performances and settled in quickly scoring two half centuries. His 89* in the World T20 qualifier against Oman was his stand-out knock. His leg-spin adds another dimension to the bowling department. 7/10
Captained the Ireland Wolves to some notable wins and looked very comfortable when he made his debut in the Autumn T20Is. His form dipped as the World T20 went on but is still one to watch. Scored his maiden first-class century in the domestic competition. 7/10
Struggled to get runs in the first half of the year but at No.4 was probably batting higher than he should. Got a chance as wicketkeeper for the Zimbabwe ODIs and looked more comfortable batting at 7 – scoring his maiden international 50. Will most likely get a chance to establish himself as first choice wicketkeeper next year 6.5/10
Began the year as wicketkeeper in Gary Wilson’s absence but didn’t back up his solid keeping with any batting performances of note. Signed a contract extension with Durham, effectively ending his international career for the time being at least. 6/10
The newcomer of the year without a doubt. Came into the team as a late replacement for the ODI against England but by the end of the summer had established himself as an automatic starter in all formats. With the ball, his first few games were expensive but he learned quick and took 6 in his Test debut at Lord’s. Our best bowler in the World T20 qualifier by a mile. He won’t die wondering with the bat either. 8/10
His military medium pace bowling is proving to be a surprising asset in the Test format, his four wickets at Lords taking him into double figures. Less effective in the limited overs games. Will need to up his game next year with competition for places. 6/10
Made a belated debut this year and showed signs that he could be solid, if not spectacular with bat and ball. Held his nerve in the last over of that cliffhanger against Scotland in the T20 Tri-Series. Did enough to warrant more chances next year whether or not he gets them is another matter. 6/10
Began the year well in the Afghanistan tour. Scored a fine 50 in the third ODI which unfortunately was overshadowed by the carnage Balbirnie was unleashing at the other end. His form dipped as the year went on. Disappointing in the World T20 qualifier, only taking 6 wickets on decks which generally favoured slow bowling. 5/10
Given that he learned his Cricket in India, Simi had a golden opportunity to nail down a regular place in the team in the Afghanistan tour. However, a disappointing tour saw him dropped for the Test match. Was out of the picture for most of the home games but performed well for the Wolves and worked his way back into the squad for the World T20 Qualifier, taking 3 wickets in the last game of the year against Namibia. Took some brilliant catches in the field but needs to contribute more with the bat - which he is well capable of doing. 6/10
Was in and out of the team this year but did well when called upon. His off-spin is not a prolific wicket-taker, but very effective at slowing run rates, best shown in the first ODI against Afghanistan in Belfast, when he went for just 17 off his 10 overs. 7/10
Another newcomer to the team this year. His involvement was restricted to the Afghanistan tour where he took 8 wickets, including 3 on Test debut. Showed himself to be a more than capable lower order batter too. With tours in Sri Lanka and India to come, there is a good chance we will see him again. 7/10
Still ambling that 6’8 frame towards the crease. Not as quick as he used to be but he took 47 wickets this year without doing anything particularly spectacular. 7/10
He picked the perfect game to finish his international career on with that amazing first session at Lord’s. Got another Michelle to seal the ODI series win against Zimbabwe. There was also that Test 50 against Afghanistan. He will be missed. 9/10
Started the year with a lot of punishment in the T20 series against Afghanistan but gave us a glimpse of what he is capable of with that 4 wicket haul against England. Injury cut short his summer and failed to make the cut for the World T20 Qualifier squad. Just turned 20 last month so plenty of time for him to prove himself. 6/10
Only played four games this year but in those didn’t do anything to convince the selectors to consider him any more than a fringe player. I still think we’ve got a player here but he turns 28 next year so it’s ‘shit or get off the pot’ time for him. 5/10
The forgotten man at the start of the year but forced his way back in to the side for the Autumn T20s. Returned career best figures of 4-13 in the World T20 Qualifier, albeit against Nigeria. At 29 he is long overdue a chance to get a decent run of games in the team. That could well change next year. 7/10
Although his figures of 8 wickets @ 27.75 don’t really stand out, this lad has potential. Clocked 92mph during the World T20 before a knee injury cut short his tournament. Due to have an operation on said knee this month and with his university commitments, we are unlikely to see him again before the summer but will almost certainly be given an opportunity to get on the plane to Australia in October. 7/10
Didn’t feature again after getting carted around the place by Afghanistan. Will need to pull out all the stops in the domestic season next year to force his way back into contention but I fear Chase’s race is run. 4/10