One of Ireland’s greatest careers officially came to an end yesterday when William Porterfield decided coaching was now his priority, so when Ireland play New Zealand in the first one-night international next month, he will be preparing Gloucestershire for their title match counties against Essex.
Even the confirmation that he had been selected for the team to face the world’s best ODI team did not sway Porterfield, who announced the time after 16 years and 310 caps – most of them were team captains as first batsmen.
The Golden Duck at Sabina Park in January – the scene of Ireland’s first World Cup victory against Pakistan in 2007 with Porterfield being the only survivor – not something he would want to go outside with, but he had the pleasure of helping Ireland to their first victory . Victory in the foreign series.
“Gloucestershire actually said ‘go and play the New Zealand games’ but I didn’t feel like I was doing myself justice,” Porterfield said. “I wanted to buy this one and that and that opportunity was with Gloucestershire, and to be honest with myself, I mentally succumbed to this and switched off from the game for a few weeks.
“I still feel like I could come back on Monday, train for three weeks and go against New Zealand, but it’s not often that you get the opportunity to play the role that was offered in Gloucestershire. I had to be very pragmatic.
“At the end of the season, I will be 38. Timing is everything in professional sports and in 12-18 months I could be in the same position when I retire, and there is no such possibility.
“The solution is pretty crude and I’m still not 100% sure if it’s the right one, but it’s a life decision and time will tell.”
Like everything Porterfield has ever done in his career, when he takes on something, he takes it to the limit, and so after 9,507 runs (only Paul Stirling has more) and a record 18 centuries, he admits that over the past month he has plunged into his new role as a consultant at the County Ground in Bristol.
“I had the opportunity to go there for the last three to four weeks, which excluded the (playing Bready in) festival (T20). So I talked to Heinrich (Malan, head coach of the Republic of Ireland) and Richard (Holdsworth, director of performances) and they were very supportive.
“I haven’t played T20 cricket in the colors of Ireland for a while and they said if you want to go that route from a manager’s point of view, go ahead. It was so easy. It might have been different if I had been considered for the T20 World Cup, but that would never happen and (as a contract player) you just had to get permission to travel.
“I was offered a consultant role for the remainder of the season and over the last few weeks I’ve really bought into it and immersed myself in it.”
Porterfield will continue to fly back and forth when available. In his coaching role, he is already committed to the Republic of Ireland Monday through Thursday ahead of the T20 international against India and insists he will still be available should anyone need him.
His biggest regret so far is that he missed the last North West Warriors Inter-pro Cup match against the Munster Reds in Eglinton on July 1st.
“If we win this with a bonus point, we will win the Cup, so I really believed that the last couple of years I enjoyed it helping these guys,” he added. “It was almost like a player/coach role because the best place to learn is in the middle, that’s where I felt like I was adding value by playing with people for a long time and talking about it and helping Andy (McBrien) with the captaincy – but like all the captains, the final decision was his.”
Porterfield is still assistant coach to Boyd Rankin at the Warriors, but he has yet to speak with North West Cricket chief executive Peter McCartney about this specific role. Meanwhile, he’s happy to see Warriors teammates Stephen Doheny and Conor Olfert win Ireland’s challenges against India.
“Stephen’s form over the past couple of years has been incredible, but this year he really excelled and I’m happy for him. He worked so hard,” he said. “Conor did it faster than he probably thought, but watching him miss five games this year, I was asking myself, ‘Where has he been all this time, does he have anything here?’ “He deserves his contract and all the applause he gets. I hope they both go there next week and enjoy it.”
For now, however, after the pleasure Porterfield has given Irish audiences over the years, this is a case of gratitude for the memories.