The one thing still missing from Ireland’s cricketing CV in the modern era remains a home victory against a leading Test match nation.
The memorable upsets in World Cups against the likes of Pakistan and England have never been replicated on Irish soil, but William Porterfield’s team have another chance on Thursday to right that wrong when the touring Australians visit Stormont.
Ireland aren’t having the best of summers – their World Twenty20 qualifying campaign on home soil was a stuttering affair – but Porterfield is hopeful they can raise their game against a relatively inexperienced Australian ODI squad.
This might be Ireland’s best chance yet of toppling the Aussies, who have miles on the clock after long tours of West Indies and England, and could be suffering from an Ashes hangover.
Porterfield said: “Having the world champions coming to your home patch is a very exciting time. We have been counting down the days, we can’t wait to get out there.”
Days like this are all-too rare for Porterfield’s men. The ODI against England was washed out at Malahide back in May and the fingers are crossed that the heavy showers of recent days will disappear for today’s Hanley Energy Challenge ODI
“Two games against top eight sides in a sumer isn’t ideal from our point of view, we have confirmed a few more for next year against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, that’s what we are after, that’s what we want, regular fixtures,” Porterfield said.
“You need to be playing those matches regularly to go out and perform consistently. But at the same time we know what we are capable of if we turn it on on the day. If we can produce it in all three aspects I will be happy.”
Ireland were dealt a blow last night when it was confirmed that Kevin O’Brien will miss the game with a hamstring injury. He is replaced in the squad by Max Sorensen. Porterfield also revealed that Niall O’Brien is taking over the wicketkeeping duties from Gary Wilson, a move prompted by coach John Bracewell.
He added: “Brace has come in and wants to look at both. We have got three very good keepers, Stu Poynter is there as well, and Nobby will keep. It’s an opportunity for him, we have to work out our best way going format in all three formats. We have played a lot of Twenty20 cricket over the last couple of years and Nobby missed out in a couple of games in those.”