He may have captained his country 253 times and played at international level every year since his debut in 2006, but William Porterfield could be considered the forgotten man of Irish cricket.

No longer selected for T20 internationals and with no Test cricket for Ireland since July 2019, Porterfield has only one-day internationals to add to his 307 caps.

However, despite a run of five games when Porterfield scored only 59 runs, spread across 16 months, he hasn’t gone away and, in the absence of his long-time opening partner, Paul Stirling, it will be Ireland’s most experienced current player who will lead from the front when they begin their latest World Cup Super League series against West Indies in Jamaica on Saturday.

Stirling is still isolating in Florida, after the aborted USA leg of this tour, having tested positive for Covid and will not be allowed to travel to the Caribbean until Sunday at the earliest. Although the Donemana native has played only nine internationals in the last two-and-a-half years, his last four ODI innings ensured he is again one of the first names on the team-sheet.

Ironically, it was after Ireland’s last visit to the Caribbean in January 2020 that Porterfield lost his place in the team — he averaged 18 in the three-match series — and when he was recalled in June last year, scores of five and zero in the first two WCSL games against Netherlands saw him dropped again.

That, he admits, was when he thought his international career could have been over.

“Walking off after that second Holland game was when I realised I had to do something to keep my place,” he recalls. “Fortunately, the inter-pros were still on and I remember going to the Mardyke (the following week) saying to myself ‘if I don’t get runs here it will be my last 50-over game for a while’.”

Porterfield duly went out and scored a near flawless 110 for North West Warriors and he was selected for the South Africa WCSL series the following month. Although that didn’t go as planned, because of a freak injury.

“Two days before the first game, the middle finger in my left hand flared up and I couldn’t grip the bat,” he explains.

”I had an infection in my finger, but it actually went down the next day and I was able to play (he scored 63).

“But 12 hours after the game, it flared up again and this time it didn’t go away. When I got back to England, I was referred to hospital where I had to have my hand cut open and after the operation they kept me in for four days. The infection, by then, was so deep that I was warned it could go up my arm and then I’d be in big trouble. So I had it cut and flushed out.”

Having missed the final two matches of the series, the only games left for Porterfield last summer were the three against Zimbabwe at Stormont and, here, fortune was on his side.

“It did me a favour that the Zimbabwe series (due to start at the end of August) was pushed back because it was then still touch and go if my hand had recovered,” he says.

“But while I didn’t bang out big runs, I got a couple of 50s and, while I never 100 per cent felt ‘in’, I got into good positions and, conditions dependent, they were probably decent enough knocks.”

Ireland’s next involvement was the T20 World Cup and, though Porterfield was never going to be playing, he was called up along with Warriors coach Gary Wilson “as an extra pair of hands” for the tournament.

“I’d been appointed consultant fielding coach back in March and it was a similar sort of role at the World Cup,” says Porterfield. “There were no net bowlers, because of the pandemic, so I was throwing down balls in the nets and it gave me more exposure to the other side of the fence.

“It was a different experience, knowing I wasn’t going to playing, but I really enjoyed it.”

Porterfield was due to be back in the middle on Boxing Day in the first of three ODIs against the USA in Florida but, again, Covid struck members of both squads and, in the end, the entire series was cancelled.

It has therefore been almost four months since Porterfield has had a competitive hit. Hardly the ideal preparation to face a fired up West Indies squad on their home turf — especially as the players have spent the last three days quarantining in their rooms.

“I’m not sure if it is just because we have flown in from America but all we’ve been able to do since we arrived on Friday — what day is it now? — is order meals three times a day and you have a slot in the gym but you have to do it on your own,” he explains.

“If we test negative, we will get out to train and then we have a warm-up game on Wednesday (against the Jamaican Scorpions), so that hopefully will be a good run-out and get rid of the cobwebs.

“The lads have played a lot of T20 cricket recently so this will be a reminder of how long 50-over cricket is.”