KEEPING LORD'S WORLD CLASS
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Former MCC Young Cricketer Kevin O’Brien, England’s destroyer in the ICC World Cup, says Ireland are primed for a repeat of that shock win in Dublin.
O’Brien hammered an astonishing 50-ball century – the fastest in world cup history – when the two sides met in Bangalore in March, as Ireland recorded a three wicket victory.
England cross the Irish Sea for the one off clash with a much weakened squad, following their 4-0 Test match whitewash of India.
The visitors will rightly be wary of the side six places below them in the world rankings but a confident O’Brien insists the heroics of the world cup win hasn’t added to the expectation on Ireland.
Speaking exclusively to Lords.org, O'Brien said: “When the match was announced four or five months ago, even before the world cup, I think it was going to be the biggest game of our summer and what happened in the world cup makes it an even bigger game.
“But I don’t think there is any more pressure than there was before the last match. All the players are pretty relaxed – we’re in good form and confident of another victory.”
Dubliner Eoin Morgan will captain England for the first time in the absence of full-time ODI skipper Alastair Cook.
The 24-year-old batsman, an Ireland player as recently as April 2009, is likely to be the subject of some scrutiny from the home supporters.
O’Brien though is comfortable with the situation and believes Morgan will relish his chance to lead England in his home city, as his former teammate stakes a claim for full time role in the future.
“It’s going to be a very good day for him – to captain an international team is a great honour and it’s something he’ll do with a lot of pride and play hard as ever,” added the 27-year-old.
“Eoin is not vice-captain of the Twenty20 team for nothing so they obviously see him as a potential future captain in both one day cricket and also the longer form.
“This is another chance for him to increase his seniority in the team.”
Cricket in the Emerald Isle has gone from strength to strength since the 2007 world cup, bringing about a succession of upsets and culminating in the win over England.
They have also successfully lobbied the ICC to allow them the chance to compete in the 2015 world cup, after initially being overlooked.
Three of the Ireland squad, O’Brien, captain Will Porterfield and batsman Gary Wilson are graduates of MCC’s YC scheme, which has also welcomed a number of other Irish cricketers.
Porterfield, also an MCC Universities graduate, and Wilson have forged county careers since leaving Lord’s, and O’Brien has played one-day for Gloucestershire in 2011.
With his season now over in England, O'Brien is hoping for a return in 2012, and is on the lookout for potential Twenty20 deals around the world.
O'Brien praised the YC scheme for helping launch his career and highlighted the benefits of young Irish players getting opportunities to play in England.
“I was a YC in 2004 and 2005 and those two years were very important for me when I was improving as a cricketer. It was a great two years for me, to learn my trade and grow up as a person,” said O’Brien.
“It’s a great environment to play in, you’re playing five or six days a week, which as a 16 or 17 year old in Ireland you don’t get the chance to do.
“As a young guy it’s great to go over and training at Lord’s is a fantastic opportunity.
“For Ireland, the more players we can get playing over in England, for the various county academies or as YCs the more it’s going to benefit us as a nation and our cricket.”
Kevin O’Brien’s book about the 2011 world cup, Six after Six is available now.