Cricket Ireland has announced Andrew Balbirnie as Ireland Men’s new Test and One-Day captain, succeeding the long-serving William Porterfield who has been at the helm since 2008.
 
Porterfield has led the senior Irish side 253 times since taking over from former skipper Trent Johnston in 2008. He has, by some considerable distance, captained the most matches for Ireland, and - at the time of stepping down - was the longest-serving current national captain in an Irish team sport.
 
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.
 
Porterfield is determined to continue playing in the international arena, and believes he now has an opportunity to support the transition to a new captain. He said:
 
“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.”
 
“I feel, and in consultation with Cricket Ireland, that now is the right time to hand over that mantle. 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.”
 
“The one thing that I will not miss, though, is knocking on someone’s hotel door to tell them they will not be playing!”
 
 
Dublin-born Balbirnie, 28, becomes Ireland Men’s second-ever Test captain and fifth man to captain the One-Day International side. He made his international debut in 2010, and has appeared 123 times for Ireland. Playing his club cricket with current Irish Senior Cup champions Pembroke, and an integral part of the successful Leinster Lightning squad in the Inter-Provincial Series, Balbirnie is also a former MCC Young Cricketer and spent six years with Middlesex County Cricket Club.
 
No stranger to captaincy, Balbirnie has led the Ireland Wolves numerous times, and also captained the Ireland Under-19s squad to an Under-19s World Cup in 2010.
 
Balbirnie said:
 
“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. 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 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.”
 
“We are very lucky that we are entering arguably the most exciting period to be an Irish cricketer, so to be able to lead the guys into this will be a great honour and challenge, and one that I’m looking forward to immensely.”
 
Andrew White, Chair of National Men’s Selectors, said:
 
“William has been a remarkable captain, and we have been fortunate over such a long period to have his skills and experience to draw on. His leadership abilities on the field have been clear for all to see, but what is, and always has been, his greatest quality is his off-field leadership and support that has benefitted numerous coaches and players over a long period of time.”
 
“Porty has also been integral to the development of the national pathway system in Ireland, helping to shape and advise on what is now a comprehensive programme that is starting to bring through local talent and mould that next generation of Irish cricketer.”
 
“However, there comes a time when that baton is handed over, and in the Test and ODI formats we had identified the leadership potential in Andrew early on. Succession planning in international sport is so important these days, and Andrew has certainly developed and grown in confidence and stature over recent years. It is often said that the weight of captaincy can weigh heavy on some players, but we believe Andrew is someone who has the instincts and resolve to carry that weight and excel.”
 
“Over the past two years we have been on a process of transition, and with our new Test member status, entry into the Future Tours Programme, and combined with being on the cusp of entering the new ICC Cricket World Cup Super League in 2020, we believe this is a good time to for Andrew to begin his captaincy journey and we wish him well.”
 
 
Balbirnie’s first international match as captain will be on 7 January 2020 when Ireland takes on the West Indies in a one-day international in Barbados. Following a six-match series against the West Indies, Ireland is scheduled for tours to Sri Lanka, India to play Afghanistan and Zimbabwe, before returning to Ireland for a busy home season.