Will Porterfield is “excited” by his move to Warwickshire and has revealed his eagerness to be part of a trophy-winning team at Edgbaston.
Ireland captain Porterfield has signed a three-year contract with the Bears after deciding to leave Gloucestershire to make the step up to First Division championship cricket.
The 26-year-old will compete with Ian Westwood, Varun Chopra and Darren Maddy to open the batting in four-day cricket next year as he strives to raise his career average from 33 towards 40 and beyond.
Warwickshire director of cricket Ashley Giles is delighted to have signed Porterfield, who also attracted interest from Surrey when it became clear he was not keen to recommit himself to Gloucestershire.
And the new recruit believes that exciting times lie ahead at Edgbaston – and that the Bears are more than capable of building on their achievement of lifting their first silverware for six years, the Clydesdale 40 at Lord’s last month.
“Every cricketer wants to win trophies and I am no different,” Porterfield said. “And I think we can do that over the next few years at Warwickshire. The guys won the 40-over trophy last season and they are a very good one-day team. They also finished well in the championship so there’s a lot to work with and I’m very excited about joining.
“Surrey expressed an interest and put 28 days in for me but I spoke to Warwickshire towards the end of August and as soon as they put an offer on the table I snapped it up. When I spoke to Boyd Rankin about the club, he was very complimentary about it and it ticks all the boxes for me at this stage of my career. I can’t wait to get stuck in next season.
“I want to get my batting average up. Some of the wickets that we played on at Bristol in the last couple of years were pretty seamer-friendly and, although that makes for interesting cricket and some exciting matches, as a batter, it’s not great for your numbers.”
Before settling into his first Warwickshire season, Porterfield has a busy winter ahead of him in his role as Ireland skipper. “We will be going to Dubai soon and then after Christmas we will be in India for seven weeks in the run-up to the World Cup,” he said. “Then I will join up with Warwickshire for pre-season.”
Meanwhile, as he looks ahead to next season, Giles has challenged Ant Botha to “show us what he has got” as leader of Warwickshire’s spin attack next year.
The return of Imran Tahir to Hampshire for next season left the Bears with a decision of whether to go with Botha or try to find another spinner to head up their slow-bowling department in 2011.
Botha’s first-class career figures – 302 wickets at 34.75 runs apiece in 135 matches – are nothing special and he played in only half of Warwickshire’s championship matches, delivering just 50.4 overs, last season.
His four championship wickets in 2010 cost 43.75 each but those figures must be taken in context. Even when selected, with Tahir around to lead the spin attack, Botha invariably had to wait a long time for a bowl, if he got one at all, sometimes not getting the call until 60 or 70 overs had passed.
Spinners, more than any other type of bowler, need to bowl plenty of overs to acquire the rhythm and confidence they need but for much of his time on the championship field last season Botha could only ponder that point from the slip-cordon.
The left-armer is by no means as big a spinner of the ball as Tahir but he has shown in the past that he can be a match-winning bowler in first-class cricket. In a crucial relegation battle in September 2009, Sussex prepared a turning wicket at Hove to suit their spinners, only for Botha to bowl the Bears to victory with match figures of 67-25-115-9. He is, Giles reckons, more than capable of leading the spin attack.
“I’m not looking for another spinner,” said the director of cricket. “Ant is the man in possession and it gives him a great run at it next year. He has had a frustrating time of it this year so next year will give him a full season to show us what he has got.
“It was difficult for him in 2010 with us having two seamers getting all the wickets and also a world-class leg-spinner. Also, with us not scoring anywhere near enough runs, we were hardly in a position to sit back and have two spinners wheeling away. Ant had a tough year but, on reflection, he still had quite an impact. He is a huge part of our T20 side and performed very well. It took him a while to break into the CB40 team but when he did he had a massive impact in those last big three games. He was hugely important in those and formed a tremendous partnership with Tahir.
“I have no qualms about him heading up our spin attack next season. He has bowled match-winning spells for us in the past.”