William Porterfield is not ready to give up his Ireland place yet but he admits that Harry Tector had to play in the opening World Cup Super League series against England.
The veteran of 301 Ireland games – 253 as captain – was forced to watch the three one-day internationals from the players’ balcony at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton as one of the three match-day reserves, but “100 per cent felt part of the win” that stunned the world champions in the final game.
Tector, the 20-year-old from the YMCA club in Dublin, was given his ODI debut in the No 4 batting position which Porterfield had held down for the previous 10 internationals but the Donemana man backed his replacement who, with the experience of Kevin O’Brien, coolly saw Ireland home and become the first visiting team to chase 329 in an ODI in England.
“Harry was really impressive throughout the three weeks (we were in Southampton bubble) and I was pragmatic enough to know we have a young lad coming through, he’s ready to go and he had to play, and Gaz (Gareth Delany) had to get game time up the top, so the experience those guys will pick up is going to be invaluable.
“I’ve played against Harry in inter-pros but the first time I saw him live was in Belfast when we (North West Warriors) chased down 220 comfortably, but he got 70 for them (Northern Knights) and I was really impressed with how he goes about his business, how he talks and thinks about it. He showed then he had a massive future in Irish cricket.”
With the emergence of Curtis Campher and Josh Little getting the nod over the vast experience of Boyd Rankin, there is more than a hint of the changing of the guard but Porterfield prefers to call it a process.
“We shouldn’t put that pressure on Harry and Gareth Delany. In two to three years there are members of that 22 that were in Southampton who are not going to be around but it’s how you integrate everyone. You have to allow those guys game time to take pressure off them and it will be the older lads who will still have the responsibility to win games.
“You can’t just chuck everyone in at once and we have to manage that well by taking pressure off the younger guys. But it’s a process that has been happening. Tector has banged out runs for the (Ireland) Wolves, got confidence and that makes it easier for him. We need to get as many lads through that process and Curtis has come in and increased depth and competition and that’s what we need. Keep that healthy and everyone wanting it and we will be in a good place.”
Porterfield believes he still has plenty to offer the squad but knows, with the delay to the next World Cup finals he will be 39 when they take place in India.
“I still feel I can play a big part in the Super League, making sure we qualify for the next World Cup. I’m not going to commit to being there, but let’s qualify first and then I will assess,” he says.
“I may or may not play a lot of cricket going forward but I have to keep myself fit and be in good enough nick to score runs if called upon. I have been around long enough to know you can get a chance when you least expect it. But I can make a difference being there.”
In Porterfield’s words, the youngsters “can’t buy that time in the middle” getting one over the world champions, but they also can’t buy the experience that the former captain offers in the dressing room. Getting the balance right is set to be the key to Ireland making sure they won’t suffer the disappointment of missing out on another World Cup finals.