Ireland skipper William Porterfield hails young talent

Ireland captain William Porterfield is delighted with the emergence of young players in the team after Paul Stirling's century against Pakistan.

The 20-year-old hit 109 at Stormont in Monday's five-wicket defeat while teenage spinner George Dockrell has impressed on the sub-continent.

"Paul is just showcasing his talent now and we are getting a lot more depth in our squad, said Porterfield.

"Hopefully the production line can move Irish cricket to where it wants to be."

It was Stirling's first century against a full-member nation and his second in three games after he blazed a 70-ball 100 in Ireland's final World Cup game against Holland.

And with Eoin Morgan's continued progress into a valuable England player, Ireland's youth programme would appear in rude health.

"Stirlo is only 20 so he has a bright future," Porterfield said of his Belfast-born opener.

"He's come right through the system - he's come through our under-age groups, he's learned all his cricket here and that proves what we can produce and what we are producing.

"We all know what Stirlo can do in the squad, and people around Ireland know what he can do.

"We were missing Niall O'Brien and George (Dockrell) in this series, but lads have come in and stepped up to the mark which has been great."

Paul Stirling gets the ball away during his century against Pakistan
Paul Stirling gets the ball away during his century against Pakistan

Where Irish cricket would most like to be at the moment is in a position where their promising stars can aspire to play at a World Cup.

At present that is not the case after the ICC decided to omit the associate countries from the 2015 tournament.

An ICC chief executives' committee is due to discuss the prospect of over-ruling that decision next month, with Irish officials hopeful a qualification system could be introduced to allow the associates to earn their place.

That would seemingly be a fitting reward for their continued improvement on the international stage over recent times.

The 2-0 series defeat to Pakistan proved consistency is, however, still an issue after they were skittled for 96 in the opening game before running the World Cup semi-finalists close on Monday.

But with more exposure to the top teams - Ireland will also play Sri Lanka and England this summer - Porterfield believes his young team will bridge the gap.

"We showed in the second game with the way we came back that we have it in us," he said.

"We know that's what we have inside us and we just have to do that every day. Saturday was an off day, it's the way you bounce back from them.

"We showed with our batting on Monday, when we went in first on that wicket after winning the toss, that we don't fear it.

"Stirlo led that. He was explosive when he wanted to be and once he got out of those first powerplays he still knocked it about.

"At the same time he still managed to find the boundary when we needed one. It is a skill in itself to be able to hit boundaries in those middle overs against a quality attack.

"If he can go out and construct his innings like he did he is going to score a lot of runs against quality teams. That can only be good for us in the future."

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