Will Porterfield does not seek for a moment to hide from the fact his record for Warwickshire is “not good enough”.
Figures can lie in sport, but Porterfield’s don’t. They simply tell the story of a batsman engaged in a seemingly perpetual battle for runs and form.
The Ireland captain endured a nightmare 2013 season with the Bears. Sixteen championship innings brought him 235 runs at an average of 14.69. Never mind recording his maiden championship ton for Warwickshire in his third season with them, he did not make it as far as 50.
Those stats landed on the back of Porterfield’s first two seasons at Edgbaston, which brought 583 runs (ave. 25.34) and 482 (24.10) respectively. In total, the batsman, who for most of that time occupied the crucial number three spot in the batting order, has accrued 1,300 runs from 62 championship innings.
Not good enough, clearly.
But then, last month, this left-hander, who has so often floundered or flattered to decieve for his county, goes out to bat for his country in Dublin and smashes a century against England. Cue much head-shaking back at Edgbaston.
There is ability there – enough to convince then Bears director of cricket Ashley Giles to sign Porterfield from Gloucestershire. There is talent.
But at times, particularly this past season – leaving a straight one, chipping the new ball to mid-off, slashing to point – it has been well concealed.
So can Warwickshire and the player himself unravel the enigma that is Will Porterfield?
“I know it hasn’t been good enough,” he said. “It is hard to put a finger on why. It’s not through lack of trying or lack of belief.
“My preparation last winter went well and I did really well with Ireland in Sharjah and then with Warwickshire in Abu Dhabi and felt in a really good place coming into the season. So I just can’t put my finger on why I didn’t kick on.
“In the first few innings of the season I faced quite a few balls and got started in innings but didn’t get past those starts. It is frustrating.
“It’s not a case of ‘it’s never going to happen’. It’s just that the performances haven’t been there. I am not going to sit here and say it is good enough because I know it’s not. I am as frustrated as everyone else. But I know I can do it. I have just got to prove it.”
Porterfield has much to prove. What he needs, above all, perhaps is a concerted period of time – a full winter, maybe – working on his technique.
Towards the end of the 2012 season Giles pinpointed, as a winter objective, working long and hard with Porterfield in the Indoor Centre at Edgbaston to sort out his batting – much as he sorted out Jonathan Trott’s in 2007/08 after Trott ended the 2007 season with 396 championship runs at 19.80.
Then came Giles’s abrupt move to the England camp and his Porterfield project was shelved. The pair did some work together before the coach left for good at Christmas and the player was consumed by his Ireland obligations.
But Porterfield is adamant he can resolve his problems, even alongside his duties as Ireland captain.
“Whenever I have been away for the winter I have come back in good nick so I don’t think it’s a case of having to stay at home,” he said. “Being away and playing cricket is good for me.
“This winter I am quite happy working with Tony Frost and Dougie Brown at Edgbaston and then going away and working with Ireland. The results will come.”
If that does happen and Porterfield scores big runs next season, one thing is for sure – his team-mates will be delighted. Not just because it would be a major boost to the side’s run production but on a personal level.
‘Purdy’ is a much-respected member of the dressing room. Some sportsmen, when having a tough time personally, withdraw into themselves and infect the atmosphere with negativity. It says much for Porterfield, who is contracted to Warwickshire for another two years, that several of his colleagues confided last season how much they would love him to come good.
“A team ethic is just something I always had,” he said. “A bad run can get anyone down but you can’t just go around sulking.
“It is all about the team and doing whatever you need to do to get the team to win. Cricket is a sport where individual effort leads to team performances. I like the fact that everyone backs each other and buys into that. If you are looking over your shoulder and hoping somebody else doesn’t do well then you are not focusing on what you should be doing.
“Of course, Warwickshire fans are disappointed with the way things have gone for me. That’s understandable. But it shows what I can do when I go out and bat like I did against England.
“That’s why I believe in my own ability. And I am determined to show it for Warwickshire.”