Fri, Mar 04, 2011 - Page 20 News List

Ireland’s colorful Kevin O’Brien now talk of town

AFP, NEW DELHI

Kevin O’Brien, the World Cup giant slayer of England, lists his favorite TV show as Gossip Girl, but it’s the free-swinging Irishman who’s the talk of the town in India.

The barrel-chested Dubliner, whose 50-ball century was the quickest of all time in the World Cup and sparked Ireland to their famous win in Bangalore, will turn 27 today.

The perfect gift will be for him to deliver another shock when his unheralded side tackle a brittle-looking Indian bowling attack on Sunday where a win will mean a giant leap closer to the quarter-finals.

A repeat of Wednesday’s headline-stealing assault on England could also pave the way for him to be indulged by the riches of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

“Who wouldn’t want to play in the IPL? A lot of people have said that Twenty20 suits me, the way I swing the bat and hit a few sixes,” O’Brien said. “If something comes of that, even better. If not, I’ll just concentrate on Sunday’s game against India and see what happens.”

O’Brien, sporting a hairstyle streaked with pink, blond and purple as part of a cancer charity awareness campaign, will not get his hopes up yet after getting used to setbacks in his career.

Having had a brief spell with Nottinghamshire in the English county championship in 2009, O’Brien currently plies his trade for Irish club side Railway Union.

He has also had his critics and he recently recalled his worst time as a professional.

“Personally the end of 2009 and start of the 2010 season, when I was struggling with form,” he said. “People were saying I wasn’t good enough to be in the squad, and should be dropped. That was a hard time for me reading those comments.”

In his darkest moments, help has been close at hand from his family.

Older brother Niall is still the national team’s wicketkeeper and a crucial part of the World Cup set-up.

Four years ago, it was Niall who stole the headlines when his innings of 72 off 107 balls helped Ireland to a famous World Cup win over 1992 champions Pakistan in Jamaica.

In all, five O’Brien brothers play cricket. Ger O’Brien even serves as the president of Railway Union.

In the stands at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore were his parents, Brendan, who played 11 times for Ireland in his 15-year career, and Camilla.

The only downside for jubilant dad was that he was wearing an Irish jersey with Niall’s name on it.

“My wife [Camilla] wore a Kevin jersey, I promise to swap it with her for the next game,” laughed Brendan.

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