Balbirnie becomes only the fifth man to captain Ireland at the senior level © Getty
Andrew Balbirnie has been appointed Ireland’s Test and ODI captain, taking over from the long-serving William Porterfield who stepped down after more than 11 years in the job during which he led the team in 253 matches across formats. The 28-year-old Balbirnie, who made his international debut in 2010, becomes only the fifth man to captain the national side at the senior level. Balbirnie, who will lead his first game on January 7, 2020 in an ODI against West Indies, is no stranger to the leadership role, however, having led the Ireland Under-19 team at the 2010 World Cup.
“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,” he added.
Despite giving up a post he has held since taking over from Trent Johnston in 2008, the 35-year-old Porterfield is not hanging up his playing boots just yet. After having captained national youth sides from the U-13 level, the senior side at two 50-over World Cups, five World T20s and for Ireland’s inaugural Test match last year, Porterfield is determined to play a part in the transitional phase.
“I feel, and in consultation with Cricket Ireland, that now is the right time to hand over that mantle,” Porterfield said. “With the ODI league starting in the summer it will allow Balbo 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.
“It has been an incredible journey, and a fantastic honour to have captained my country over the past 11 and a half years. 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.
“The one thing that I will not miss, though, is knocking on someone’s hotel door to tell them they will not be playing!” he signed off.
In the coming season, Ireland are scheduled to play a six-match series against the West Indies, followed by scheduled tours to Sri Lanka, India to play Afghanistan and Zimbabwe, before returning to Ireland for a busy home season.