William Porterfield is looking forward to breaking new ground with Ireland when he leads them on a six-week tour to India, during which they will play Afghanistan nine times in March.

And then the Ireland skipper wants to rediscover some old ground by forcing his way back into the Bears team in all formats.

Porterfield played no part for Warwickshire in the Specsavers County Championship last season, partly due to injury and international calls which also restricted his input in limited-overs cricket early on.

That is a situation he is keen to change in 2017 but first, after training in the Edgbaston Indoor Centre in the next couple of months, will come that series between Ireland and Afghanistan.

The two countries will play 12 days cricket, all at the same venue, the Greater Noida Stadium in northern India, between March 8 and 31. And while Ireland are no strangers to playing abroad, such a sustained period away and facing the same opposition will be a new experience for them, according to Porterfield.

“It is the first time we have been on a proper tour,” he said. “Previously, any time we have been away for any length of time it’s been for a tournament, but this is an actual tour with the guys spending six weeks together, so it will be a good test.

“We’ve got three T20s, five one-dayers and the Intercontinental Cup four-dayer so it will be a great challenge. We have had a few tussles with Afghanistan over the years and some of them got a bit lively so it will be interesting.

“We’ll play all the games on the same ground, where the Bangladesh v England series took place, so we know a little bit what to expect. The pitches will be spin-friendly so it will be good preparation for us as individuals going into next season because the ECB are keen for spin to come to the fore in this country and we will play on more turning pitches. With all the tour games taking place at the same ground, we’ll be playing on pitches that turn.”

Turn is not a major component of Boyd Rankin’s bowling repertoire but Porterfield is delighted that his Warwickshire team-mate will be back alongside him in the Ireland dressing-room after calling time on his challenge for an England place.
“Boyd is fit again and taking part in everything,” the skipper said. “It was frustrating for him to get injured towards the end of last season, though it gave a few of the younger lads a chance because when Boyd’s fit and firing he’s the first name on the team-sheet. It’s great to have him back though.”

After the Afghanistan series, the next Ireland duty for Porterfield and Rankin will be their country’s first ODIs in England, at Bristol and Lord’s on May 5 and 7. A tri-nations series with New Zealand and Bangladesh follows from May 12 to 21 after which Porterfield will have a sustained period to challenge for his place in the Warwickshire and Birmingham Bears teams.

“I want to play every game and every format so I’ll be working hard this winter, as will everyone, and I’ll be looking to put my name in the mix in all comps next season and hopefully get a run in the team,” he said.

“It didn’t help last season that I got a bit of a niggle and was out injured until the start of the T20 so that was a big chunk of the championship season missed. Then I was away with Ireland for a couple of games.

“It was frustrating and a strange season not to be involved in a championship game and that’s something I’ll be looking to put right next year when hopefully I’ll bang out runs in all formats.”

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