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Ireland to play without fear as they look to turn a corner with historic win over England

After a difficult winter, Ireland begin a defining summer against near neighbours England at Bristol tomorrow.

THE SIGNIFICANCE AND magnitude of the occasion cannot be understated, but Ireland captain William Porterfield says his side will look to play without fear against England in a historic One-Day International series.

England and Ireland Nets Session - The Brightside Ground William Porterfield speaking at today's press conference in Bristol. Source: David Davies

The two teams meet at Bristol tomorrow and then conclude the series at Lord’s on Sunday, a fixture which will be Ireland’s first at one of the game’s most iconic venues.

It will represent another hugely significant juncture on the Irish cricket journey and, six years after the famous World Cup victory in Bangalore, Ireland will be looking to cause another upset.

But the odds are stacked heavily against John Bracewell’s side, not least because a powerful England outfit carry explosive threats with both bat and ball, but Ireland are coming off the back of a difficult winter.

Speaking at this afternoon’s pre-match press conference, Porterfield insists there is no more pressure on his side tomorrow than in any other game.

“Every time we go out and represent Ireland you have that expectation on yourself as a squad to perform,” he said.

“It’s the first time we’ve come across to play England here. We’ve played them a couple of times in Ireland and in World tournaments as well so any Irish-English sporting occasions is a great event.

“But obviously you can’t take a step back from the things that have been said around it, the historic occasion and things like that but ultimately once you cross the white rope it’s a game of cricket and I just want to go out and approach it positively.”

Porterfield and his team-mates have always had a propensity to produce on the biggest stage when the chips are down, but Ireland come into this weekend at arguably their lowest ebb.

England and Ireland Nets Session - The Brightside Ground Coach John Bracewell speaking to his players. Source: David Davies

This golden generation have reached their peak and the retirement of key players, coupled with the ageing and loss of form of others, has resulted in a downturn in results and performances.

The dazzling highs of Sabina Park, Bangalore and Nelson has put Ireland on the brink of Test status and helped open the door to more opportunities so it’s now imperative that the team performs again in front of a global audience.

It’s shaping to be a defining summer for Irish cricket, both on and off the pitch, and it starts with an incredibly stiff assignment in the form of an England side harbouring hopes of winning next month’s Champions Trophy.

Captained by Dublin-born batsman Eoin Morgan, the hosts are on an upward curve in one-day cricket and Ireland will need to be at their very best for the full 100 overs if they are to stand any chance in either game.

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“They’re going to have match winners throughout their line-up but we need to go out with the same mindset, the same positivity and take them on at all stages of the game,” Porterfield continued.

“It just means we have to be on for 100 overs of the game because if you do switch off or take a step back in these games, if you do that you’re putting yourself behind the game and good sides don’t let you back in. As long as we’re taking that step forward and taking the initiative on from ball one we’ll be in a good place.”

The Ireland captain added that his side will need to be aggressive with the ball and will look to take wickets in a bid to nullify the threat of a destructive English batting order.

“I think in general you have to take wickets to restrict teams and you can see the damage that can be done in the last 15/20 overs if sides have got a lot of wickets in hand,” he said.

England and Ireland Nets Session - The Brightside Ground Former Ireland batsman Eoin Morgan captains England tomorrow. Source: David Davies

“A lot of teams around the world are setting up for that but obviously still going at a rate. If you can peg sides back and have them four or five wickets down going into that period then it puts you slightly ahead of the game and that’s what we’ll be looking to do.

“We’ll have ways and modes of trying to do that, we’ve just got to go out and put things together. We’ll always be looking to that wickets.”

Whatever happens in the two-game series, it will be a landmark weekend for Irish cricket with thousands of supporters set to make the trip to Bristol and then Lord’s.

“It’ll be a great honour and a special day for all in Irish cricket,” Porterfield admitted.

“At the end of the day we’re sportspeople and we want to play on the big stage. We’ll be looking to do no different, put in a few good performances, entertain people and hopefully win along the way.

“Any time we’ve played in front of big Irish crowds they’ve made a lot of noise. It is great to play in front of those crowds but we want to put in a performance for them to shout about as well.”

England (from): Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow (wkt), Jake Ball, Sam Billings, Ben Duckett, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, David Willey, Mark Wood.

Ireland (from): William Porterfield (capt), Andrew Balbirnie, Peter Chase, George Dockrell, Ed Joyce, Tim Murtagh, Andrew McBrine, Barry McCarthy, Kevin O’Brien, Niall O’Brien, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson (wkt), Craig Young.

Friday’s game starts at 11am and is live on Sky Sports.

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