Kevin O’Brien, Ireland’s 2011 World Cup hero, retires from international cricket

Kevin O’Brien, Ireland’s 2011 World Cup hero, retires from international cricket

Kevin O’Brien, Ireland’s iconic cricketer, has announced his retirement from international cricket, ending a 15-year run as his country’s most capped player in all formats. His high point undoubtedly remains his 113 from 63 ball against England in the 2011 ODI World Cup match in Bengaluru, where he led Ireland to a three-wicket victory in the last over.

“I have enjoyed every minute playing for Ireland, made many friends off the pitch and have so many happy memories to look back on from my time playing for the national team,” O’Brien wrote on Twitter. “All of my proudest moments and favorite memories were playing in front of Irish fans, whether in Ireland or abroad, so thank you for the incredible support over the years.”

Overall, O’Brien resulted in three Tests [each one Ireland have played so far], 153 ODIs and 110 T20Is. He last played internationally in a T20I, against Namibia during the T20 World Cup qualifying round in the United Arab Emirates last year.

It was a bad year for him in general. He managed just 301 runs in 14 T20I innings in calendar year 2021, while batting as a starter at all times. Ireland failed to qualify for the T20 World Cup Super 12, losing to Sri Lanka and Namibia during the qualifiers, with O’Brien scoring just 9, 5 and 25 in his three innings.

From then on, he was not considered for Ireland, something that he says influenced his decision.

“I was hoping to finish my career at the T20 World Cup in Australia. [in 2022] but not having been picked for the Irish squad since last year’s World Cup, I feel the selectors and management are looking the other way,” O’Brien wrote.

O’Brien made his Ireland debut in an ODI against England in 2006, and was a regular in the format, playing his final game against the Netherlands in 2021.

However, he never surpassed Bengaluru’s high from that night, when he broke a 50-ball century against James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann and others. That’s still the fastest hundred in an ODI World Cup, as well as being the fastest by an Irish batsman in the format. It meant that Ireland, who had been carried for 327 by England, chased the goal in 49.1 overs. It was one of two matches that Ireland won at the World Cup; the other was against the Netherlands.

O’Brien played his part in another of Ireland’s great moments in international cricket, when he scored 16* from 52 balls in a small chase as Ireland stunned Pakistan in Kingston during the 2007 World Cup. The victory helped them to qualify for the Super 8 tournament and eliminated Pakistan. [who had also lost to hosts West Indies].
His best year in T20s came in 2019, when he scored 729 runs with a strike rate of 155 in all competitions. He was also the second best race accumulator in T20I that year. The highlight of that was his career-best 124 in 62 deliveries against Hong Kong.
In the Tests, O’Brien finished with an average of 51.60, having scored Ireland’s only individual century in the format so far, 118 against Pakistan in 2018, his first Test.

O’Brien said he wanted to “continue to grow my own coaching academy here in Ireland”, as he pursued coaching opportunities. “I also want to continue gaining coaching experience abroad and hopefully I will have more opportunities with some international and professional teams in the near future,” he said.

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