Six Ball Over: Kevin O’Brien

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Originally posted in DV Mace’s Smorgasbord of Sport, 22-Oct-2014.

Ireland has produced many world-class cricketers in the last few years. Of those, the O’Brien brothers have probably been the most prominent.

Kevin, the younger of the two, was shot into super-stardom in 2011, when against England he hit the fastest World Cup century ever, leading his nation to a remarkable victory.

Since then, he has become the Associate world’s prize possession. No matter where he plays – for Ireland, in the Caribbean Premier League, in the Bangladesh Premier League, in County Cricket – he is the star.

He was captain for Ireland in their match against Northern Districts at Seddon Park last week, and after the game I was fortunate enough to speak to him briefly.

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1. Your father played for Ireland, as, obviously, has your brother. It must have been a very strong cricketing environment growing up?
Kevin O’Brien: Yeah, definitely. There were six kids, five boys, we all played cricket. It helped that the club we play at, Railway Union, was only 200, 300 yards down the road. So every chance we got, we used to just walk with a bat and tennis ball and play away for hours on end.

2. You’ve played with some of the Irish greats – the likes of John Mooney, Trent Johnston, even your brother – who’s the best player that you’ve played with for Ireland?
KOB: Probably Eoin Morgan or Ed Joyce. I think their records, not just for Ireland, but on the County scene stands to show how good they are.

3. Speaking to Roy Torrens (Irish manager) yesterday, he described you as the “Kevin Pietersen of Irish cricket”. Is that kind of dynamic, showman-type role something that you enjoy being?
KOB: I don’t enjoy it at all. I don’t know where Roy’s getting that. I just try and stay in the zone, and just try and do my job. I kind of shy away from the limelight as much as I can, I’m not one for being seen and trying to be extra flamboyant. I just try and get my job done to the best of my ability.

4. Your strike rate in Twenty20s is 131.43. How the hell do you manage that?!
KOB: It helps that I’ve batted a lot at the top of the order, the last two years in the Caribbean Premier League with Trinidad, it’s the easiest place to bat. You’re batting up the order with only two fielders out for the first six overs. On the flip side, I’ve played a lot of T20 innings where I’ve batted at five and six, so coming in towards the end. I enjoy T20, and hopefully I can play more and more of it in the future.

5. Can Ireland make the playoffs of this World Cup?
KOB: Yeah, definitely. We’ve got a young team here at the moment, on this tour, but everyone’s improving and everyone’s learning on the job. We’ve got six or seven senior players to come back into the squad, and four or five of them are batters. We’ve got at the moment me batting at four, whereas I usually bat six. It’s a positive, I suppose, that we’ve have three or four top order batsmen to come in. We’re going well, although today’s result and a couple of results in Queensland…But that’s just cricket. We’ve gotta learn on the job and learn as quick as we can.

6. I can’t finish without one question on THAT knock in the 2011 World Cup. What was going through your head during the innings?
KOB: Nothing really, to be fair. Obviously, we were in a fairly difficult situation, but myself and Cusey we just decided to see the ball and try and hit it, and obviously got a little bit of luck. And as they say the rest is history. That’s four years ago now, so hopefully we can recreate something similar in four or five months.

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