WILLIAM Porterfield continues to put pressure on the Ireland selectors to recall him for next month’s T20 internationals against South Africa.
The long-time Ireland captain has not played the shortest format at the highest level for three years but he followed up his 52 off 23 balls last week with a match-winning 61 not out from 43 balls yesterday as North West Warriors defeated Munster Reds on the second day of the T20 inter-provincial festival at Bready.
It was the stand-out innings on another disappointing day for the batsmen, with the Reds restricted to 120 for seven and, in the second game of the day, Northern Knights crashed to 97 all out to lose by 70 runs to Leinster Lightning.
Warriors second victory of the weekend – they beat the Knights by one run on Friday – has given them an eight points lead at the top of the table and if they beat Lightning tomorrow, they will need to win only one of the three games at the NCU festival in September to win the T20 Trophy.
But for now it is about individual performances with the Ireland selectors set to meet at the end of the week to pick squads for the three ODIs against the Proteas and the three T20Is which follow immediately, the last two at Stormont on July 22 and 24.
Porterfield is the only opening batsman who is showing any consistency, with Kevin O’Brien’s 14 yesterday his first double figure in the competition this year and even Paul Stirling has faced just five balls and been dismissed twice, his latest failure beginning the Knights' sorry batting collapse yesterday.
In contrast, Porterfield looked confident from the off hitting two fours in the first over, the first of his two sixes, off Josh Manley, in the sixth over and after bringing up his 50 from 40 balls he hit Fionn Hand for a six and four to leave William McClintock with the honour of hitting the winning boundary.
Yes, it wasn’t the strongest attack, and certainly nothing compared to what Ireland will be facing next month, or even against Zimbabwe in August, but while form may be temporary, class is permanent and although he was exposed in the recent ODIs in the Netherlands, T20 would allow him the freedom to hit off from the word go and he has done it against the best before.
Munster Reds had come into the game on a high after their demolition of Lightning on Friday but this time PJ Moor holed out to deep mid-wicket on 37 – that’s 58 less than he scored the previous day – and the Warriors bowlers always held the upper hand.
Lightning, obviously stung by a third successive defeat, going back to last week’s opening festival in Pembroke, hit back in style and the Knights bowlers were on the receiving end, although they did keep taking wickets – the dependable Simi Singh the only one to make 50 - to give their batters a chance.
But the final innings of the day turned into catching practice as the Knights consistently found the fielders in the deep in a desperately disappointing batting display.
There were only seven boundaries – only Neil Rock managed to hit three and Ross Adair still seems wasted coming at No 8 when the game is all but lost.