William Porterfield: If you cut World Cups from the agenda, then there’s no point really in us to keep going

The captain of the Ireland team spoke to the media after their loss against Pakistan in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. The loss knocked them out in the league stage as Pakistan and West Indies progressed in the quarter-final.

Q: William, disappointed not to get closer in the final, what would prove to be the final game?
William Porterfield (WP):
 Yeah, obviously it’s very disappointing. I think we played some very good cricket. Obviously sorry about the turnout, but yeah, we had to bowl very well and take a few early wickets, and with the score we had, we obviously didn’t manage to do that, but once they got off to a bit of a start we were always going to be slightly behind with the score that we had. Obviously we were 40-50 short of what would have been a very competitive total, and that obviously makes it harder during the chase, as well, even if they did not get off to a bit of a start. Once they did, we were always trying to claw back, and you have to give credit as to how they played; they didn’t really let us back into the game.

Q: Congratulations on your own innings.
 Yeah, it’s been nice throughout this competition. That’s one thing that we’ve done is lads have stuck their hand up throughout the batting line-up, and obviously we’ve got a couple centuries but we’ve had 90s and things like that, so every game lads have contributed and put their hand up. Obviously the two games, our last two games, the last 10 or 12 overs with the bat has probably been slightly disappointing thing, number of wickets we have lost, and we’ve struggled to get going. But again, I think you’ve got to give credit to obviously India and Pakistan, in our last two games, but their lads bowled good in the death overs. It was a slightly abrasive surface, and Pakistan bowled very straight on that pitch and it was quite slow, so I think that obviously made it harder to get away. But once we lost a few wickets, they never really let up and gave us that opportunity to get any momentum back.

Q: The last 12 overs with the bat, 58 for 6 I think it was, the bowlers were all genuinely quick and tailing like you said. Do you think that really brought out the difference in resources between what they had and what you have?
 Yeah, they’re obviously very experienced campaigners; especially Riaz has been around for a while. That’s one of his specialties, as well, is coming back at the death. He’s got a great action for a swing. He’s obviously going to be difficult to get away. As I said, once we lost a few wickets, anyone coming in that has to start against us, that’s when it is difficult, and we’re not doing anything; we’re not the first and we’re not the last. They got two, and especially when they have it tailing and it’s very difficult to come in and start and get going. Yeah, we’re obviously disappointed to come in 40-50 short, as I said, which would have been competitive, but you’ve got to give them some credit at the back end there, as well, when we did struggle to get going then.

Q: You first knew the rules from before the tournament started, but is it frustrating that you beat the West Indies and you lose out to them on net run rate? Would you suggest to International Cricket Council (ICC) that if it is just a two-way tie the team winning the match should be going through to the quarters?
 It’s obviously very difficult. Net run rate was out there, as well, from the start, and the three games that we did win, they were very close games, and we had a heavy defeat in there against South Africa, as well, obviously so did the West Indies and their net run rate took a hammering from there. But their one game convinced them, as well, to get their run rate up. It’s one of those. It’s not something we’re very bitter about, it’s just disappointing when you lose out on net run rate for the sheer fact that you’ve finished level on points with someone else, but we have to be divided or separated some way. But we’re just disappointed obviously we’ve lost this game today, but overall we’re very happy with how we’ve played in the competition.

Q: When you look back on the last four weeks are you going to look back with pride or perhaps as a missed opportunity?
 I think it’ll be difficult to say missed opportunity. We’ve come in, we’ve obviously beaten two test nations. We’ve played some very good cricket. We’ve won three games. The games that we have lost, we’ve just come up short at different stages, but to come here and win three and to play the cricket we’ve played and to continue that, it’s very easy to go missing sometimes when you get behind in a game against some very strong sides. But we haven’t done that, we’ve fought on, even the game against South Africa, it was a small thing, we were 50 for 5, but the way the lower order and tail brought us up over 200, obviously that was pretty high quality bowling we were up against. I think there’s a lot of things we can take from this competition moving forward. Overall I’m very pleased with how the lads have stuck it out as a whole when we do reflect on it, but for now we are disappointed today. We had high hopes for today and we came in with a lot of confidence in how we were playing, and that’s a testament to where we’ve come and where we’re at the minute as a team. We’ve got that confidence and belief to come out and beat anyone. It’s a great place to be, and it’ll obviously be a disappointed changing room now, but when we do sit and reflect on it, I think we’ll be very happy with what we’ve come out here and achieved. We’ve obviously given the fans back home quite a lot to cheer about, and there’s been a lot of fans come out here to support us so we’d like to thank them, as well. It’s great when you have that kind of support.

Q: Firstly, how much do you think you missed a sort of Murtagh or Boyd Rankin role in the side over the tournament, and going on from that, what are the prospects of young bowlers coming through, particularly seamers, for Ireland in the future?
 We’ve got a couple lads here, Peter Chase and Craig Young, who have got a lot of talent. They obviously didn’t get it going in this competition. Every game we’ve picked an 11 we think is going to win the game, but they’re knocking on the door. They’re not a million miles away. Obviously Young has played a fair bit of cricket over the last 12 months for us and he’s broken into the side then, but with this competition they’re not far off. I think those two lads are lads that can put their hand up and kick on. They’re not express, but they’re probably sitting in around 83-84 mph and they can swing the ball so they’ve got skills there, as well. We need to get them into cricket, because I think they will be great going forward for us in leading the attack. Stuart Thompson, as well, he’s small but he’s quite skiddy when he gets it right. Then these last two games he’s chucked into the deep end there, playing against the world champions first and then Pakistan today. He’s accredited himself very well, so there are young lads there that are looking to put their hands up and obviously if we can get them enough cricket then they’ll be good to go, as well.

Q: Leading on from that, as things stand it looks like you’ve just played your last World Cup game. Have you had any indication at all that there might be a change of heart brewing from the ICC?
 Not really. I think they’ve been pretty quiet on the actual subject. I’d love to think it’s not our last World Cup game. Obviously it will be interesting to see if it did come out, what their vision for the game is. Obviously we need to know that and everyone wants to know what their vision for the game is because if their vision is to grow the game, then cutting teams in world competitions, I’ve said before, we play once every four years. In terms of cutting teams I think the next World Cup is two or three days longer than what this World Cup is or something along those lines, so when you’ve got four less teams and your competition drags out longer, that’s not an excuse. As I said before, the conversation goes on for too long, if you’re cutting the teams by four and it goes on for even longer, then that’s not an excuse. It’ll be interesting to see what their vision is and what their thoughts are behind the 10-team competition and what value there is for other teams playing outside of the top 10 at the minute. Yeah, it’s going to be interesting. I’m sure they’re hoping everything blows over the next few weeks and they don’t hear much from us, and then it’s just as easy to brush it under the carpet, but I think something has to be done if they want to grow the game, as I said. Then we have to be playing in these competitions, and we’ve shown what we can do in them. We’ve missed out on the quarterfinals on that run rate. I think we’ve shown what we can do, and we’ve done plenty enough, and obviously the other qualifiers, as well, have put on some great performances, too, and they’ve played even less cricket than we’ve played in the last four years, barring maybe Afghanistan. Combined we’ve played in four years as what one nation has in a year. That shows the difference in volume of fixtures. I think we obviously need more than just games, but yeah, there has to be more teams in world competitions.

Q: Just a follow up to the bowling question. You used 13 of the 15 players. Are you still convinced looking back that extra pace wouldn’t have made any difference to your performances?
 You’re talking about pace. When you talk about raw pace, like pace we’re talking about late 140km/hr, and obviously the two lads we’re talking about just aren’t quite there yet in terms of that pace, and players we’re coming up against, you’ve got to be really nailed down in consistency, things like that. I think the two lads that are there can bowl wicket taking balls. But we just felt that they weren’t ready to be pushed in just yet. I think they’re not far away. I’d obviously have loved it if they could have played in this competition, but the games we’ve gone into, we’ve picked the side that we think is going to win the game on the day. Obviously they do need to play; obviously it’s ironic that they haven’t been here, but they will play throughout the summers. There’s a few fixtures in the summers that we do have, a few qualifiers and things like that, and I think they will get their opportunity, even in four-day competitions, and they’ll have learnt a lot from being here over the last eight weeks or so and they’ve got to take that back and work hard again. Being around the World Cup shows the standard and the level that we all need to be at and we’re striving towards and keep pushing forward. Yeah, those lads would have learnt a lot from the last eight weeks, and hopefully they can take that back into our summer back home.

Q: Do you think on the basis of grand performances, this is the right time for the Test stages?
 The test thing is obviously a different one, again. I think we need more fixtures. We’ve shown how we can grow when we play One Day Internationals. Anytime we’ve been away on a tour or World Cup for 12 weeks, we’ve shown what we can do, and when we get play cricket gradually, when we go back now as a national side, we’ve got six weeks until our next game. That’s a one-off game against England, which is great. We’ve got that fixture. But those six weeks, it’s a big gap in the calendar, especially at the start of the season back home. I think those are the gaps we need filled, as well, before we start looking obviously building for test dates. It’s something we all want and there is that pathway there for Test cricket, but we need to play a volume of fixtures, as well, before we get to that stage.

Q: You are the leader of the associate teams, but seeing the quarterfinal line-up, the top eight teams have qualified for the quarterfinals, which means the associates have not actually managed to make a serious dent into the full members’ teams. The ICC want to make the World Cup more competitive to improve the number of teams, maybe they have a case because the associate teams, they have not managed to make a serious dent.
 Well, then why not have 10 teams just play cricket and every other continent in the world not bother? It’s as simple as that for me. It’s not a full member cricket world, like ICC is International Cricket Council, so that’s global. They’ve got to develop the game. As I said before, a world competition you play six, seven weeks out of 200 odd. You’ve got a Champions Trophy every two years and that’s the top eight sides, I think, so you’re just making a World Cup every other year for the top eight sides, I don’t think it’s right, or top 10 sides. There’s a lot of countries out there that have done a lot of work over the last number of years. We’ve shown what we can do when we get to these competitions with the minimal fixtures that we’ve had. I think when we do get more fixtures then we’re only going to keep improving, and it’s going to be the same with every other country. I think you’ve got to keep growing the game, and you’ve only got to probably go back to Ireland or if you could go back and be in Ireland for the last six weeks and show them what’s going on there in terms of the cricket culture back home, then you’re going to see how we’re progressing even further. You’ve only got to see what that’s done, and if you cut World Cups from the agenda, then what’s the point really in us keeping going. I think it’s the wrong move. I think a lot of people have spoken out that it is the wrong move and not just from associate countries or from qualifiers or whatever, from test playing nations and a lot of influential people have said that, so I don’t think the ICC can just ignore that if I’m being honest. It’s going to be interesting to see what does happen, but I think it needs to change.

Q: The way Pakistan played today against you and even against South Africa last week, do you think they are good enough to give Australia a run for their money in the quarters?
 Yeah, look, they definitely are. You’re down to the stage of the competition now where it’s just one-off games. Pakistan have won four in a row now, so they’ve got a bit of momentum, they’ve got confidence going into it. They lost the first two games and have bounced back really well from there. And obviously Mohammad Irfan, he’s missed out today, as well, and he’s been a big player for them then, so if he’s fit and firing, he’s a different prospect for people to face. Yeah, look, obviously Australia are playing very good cricket and Pakistan are on a roll now, as well, so I expect it to be a very good game, and I think anyone can win it.

Q: You’ve spoken about some of the things that you can’t control, so like the 2019 World Cup, the fixtures that you get against full member sides, but in terms of things that you can control, ideally how do you see Irish cricket progressing over the next five, ten years?
 Yeah, a lot of things have happened back home in terms of structure, like the board have had a complete restructure. I’m not sure exactly when it happened; it’s all been happening over the last few years between World Cups, maybe even before the last World Cup, I’m not sure, and obviously we’re developing different grounds and net facilities. We’ve got an academy up and going. We’ve got a lot of things that are happening behind the scenes that are in our control, and when we do get different grants or whatever we’re setting up and get that structure and get grounds, everything around the country. And the academy has been a great addition for ourselves because the young lads coming through need to play cricket, when they come out of school. They need to get into a system where they can. We’ve got the interprovincial system up and going, which is three-day, 50-over and Twenty20 competition back home. When that grows,  and we get an extra couple of teams, then hopefully that develops into a first-class structure and first we  need to go semi-professional, then turn into a professional structure so lads don’t have to leave Ireland to make a living out of cricket. There’s a lot of great things that have happened that are in our control and how we’re trying to develop the game, and hopefully when the day comes and we do get test status and we have got the first-class structure back home, then things will be bright there.

Q: This is your second World Cup as captain. Can you see yourself being around for the next one as skipper, as well?
 Obviously captain is something that’s not really in my control, but if I stay fit and keep scoring runs, then hopefully I’ll be around for the next World Cup. Obviously I’m 30 now, so I’ll be 34 then. Obviously one lad who won’t be around, and I’m sure a lot of you have met him, is Big Roy Torrens, our manager. This is his last game in charge. He’s been around Irish cricket for over 50 years. He’s played for us, and he’s been in pretty much every role throughout the setup. He’s selector, he’s been everything, president, chairman. He’s our manager and we’re going to have to have a few beers with him tonight and see him off in style because he’s been a great servant to Irish cricket and he’s hanging up his boots once and for all. I’m sure a lot of you in here would have known him. He’s a pretty recognisable figure around our setup. So just like to say a special thank you to him. He’s obviously hanging up his boots now, so it’s been great to have him hanging around and be sad to see him go.

Q: We all know that your team’s strength is batting but when it comes to bowling we don’t see that sort of strength participating at that level. Do you suggest back home to your association to develop bowlers, especially in the spin bowlers, to participate at that level at tournaments?
 I think our batting has been a strong point in this competition. We have done very well, and I think a lot of that is, as well, is down to pitches. I think you look at every game, there’s been a lot of games, there’s been over 600 runs scored in the game, like a lot of sides batting first have got upwards over 300, and when you have that score, it is a difficult score to chase down. You have to play very well to do it, but as you say, batting has been our strong point, but we’ve let ourselves down in the last two games, leaving ourselves at least 50-60 runs short. So that obviously makes it a lot harder for the bowlers, and when a partnership gets going and you don’t manage to take those wickets very early on, it’s very hard to defend. As much as every team in the world wants lads bowling 90-plus miles an hour, we’ve come here and obviously we don’t have that in our squad, but the lads have stocked their guns very well and bowled very well in different stages throughout the competition and we have played very well with the bat, but the last two games we just didn’t get as many runs as we would have liked, and that does make things easier for the bowlers.

Courtesy: ICC