William Porterfield has stepped down as Ireland’s captain after 11 years in the role. Andrew Balbirnie, the middle-order batsman, will replace him as Test and 50-over captain, while Gary Wilson will continue in the T20 job.
Porterfield led Ireland in 253 games after taking over from Trent Johnston in 2008, captaining in two 50-over World Cups and five World T20s as well as their first-ever Test match, against Pakistan at Malahide in May 2018. He intends to continue playing international cricket.
“It has been an incredible journey, and a fantastic honour to have captained my country over the past 11 and a half years,” Porterfield said. “There have been many highs, along with a few lows along the way, but I can honestly say that it has been thoroughly enjoyable. To have been able to lead Ireland out at various World Cups, through to our first Test against Pakistan, and again at Lord’s in the summer, have been but a few of these highlights. I feel incredibly lucky and privileged to have done so.”
“I feel, and in consultation with Cricket Ireland, that now is the right time to hand over that mantle. With the ODI league starting in the summer it will allow Balbo [Balbirnie] time to get into the swing of things. I feel that the selectors have made a great choice in appointing Balbo and that it has come at a great time for him personally being on top of his game, and with more to come. Having spoken to him, I know how honoured and excited he is to get going. I’m looking forward to helping and supporting Balbo in any way I can, and seeing him lead Ireland forward.”
Balbirnie, 28, becomes Ireland’s second Test captain and fifth ODI skipper. He had been capped 123 times since his debut in 2010, and has led the ‘A’ team and Ireland Under-19s in the past.
“To be asked to captain my country is an absolute honour and one that I am very excited about as we move into a busy new year,” Balbirnie said. “It’s a proud moment not just for me but also for my family and everyone who has been there on my cricket journey so far – especially my coaches, teammates and friends at Pembroke Cricket Club.
“Since 2008 William [Porterfield] has been an amazing leader on and off the field, not just to me but anyone who has been lucky to represent Ireland. Taking over from our greatest captain will certainly be a hard act to follow but one I’m looking forward to getting into. William still has a huge role to play in this team going forward and I look forward to working with him over the next couple of years.
“We are very lucky that we are entering arguably the most exciting period to be an Irish cricketer, so to be able to lead the guys into this will be a great honour and challenge, and one that I’m looking forward to immensely.”
Andrew White, the chair of national men’s selectors, said: “William has been a remarkable captain, and we have been fortunate over such a long period to have his skills and experience to draw on. His leadership abilities on the field have been clear for all to see, but what is, and always has been, his greatest quality is his off-field leadership and support that has benefitted numerous coaches and players over a long period of time.
“Porty has also been integral to the development of the national pathway system in Ireland, helping to shape and advise on what is now a comprehensive programme that is starting to bring through local talent and mould that next generation of Irish cricketer.”
“However, there comes a time when that baton is handed over, and in the Test and ODI formats we had identified the leadership potential in Andrew [Balbirnie] early on. Succession planning in international sport is so important these days, and Andrew has certainly developed and grown in confidence and stature over recent years. It is often said that the weight of captaincy can weigh heavy on some players, but we believe Andrew is someone who has the instincts and resolve to carry that weight and excel.
“Over the past two years we have been on a process of transition, and with our new Test member status, entry into the Future Tours Programme, and combined with being on the cusp of entering the new ICC Cricket World Cup Super League in 2020, we believe this is a good time to for Andrew to begin his captaincy journey and we wish him well.”
Balbirnie’s first outing as captain will come in the Caribbean, where Ireland play three ODIs and three T20Is at the start of next year.