Our Interview with Kevin O’BrienJames Nixon |
We interviewed Irish allrounder Kevin O’Brien on the eve of the T20 World Cup going into all the parts of his cricketing career to date.
In Depth Questions
CW: What inspired you to play cricket since it’s considered a minority sport in Ireland?
KO: I’m the youngest child of six and was born into the sport. With Dad playing 52 times for Ireland I think it was a forgone conclusion that I would play the game.
The six of us used to play in the garden and we only lived 200 yards from Railway Union Cricket Club where I have played all my life.
CW: What is your feeling on Irish cricket in general and what are the possible growth opportunities that you see will motivate youngsters to take up cricket in Ireland?
KO: Cricket in Ireland is on the rise. There are more and more children playing the game in local schools, and numbers in clubs around the country is increaseing.
There are areas in Ireland that you would never of thought would have cricket clubs, so that is very positive. I think if we (the senior national side) continue to play as well as we have done in the last 5/6 years that will encourage children to continue to play cricket.
CW: How much has being involved in English county cricket helped you as a cricketer?
KO: It has improved me as a cricketer. Last year under John Bracewell and then this year playing in Somerset it has given me an outlook on how to be more professional and has taught me some valuable experiences that I’ll take further.
CW: Is there a feeling among associate nations in general that Test cricket is an exclusive club and the big boys try to keep the smaller nations out of it?
KO: I can only speak for Ireland, and we feel that Test cricket is in our grasp, as long as we keep performing on the field. The board has done a lot to get more professional and we must continue to improve on the field. Hopefully if we do that, then we could be granted Test status.
CW: Continuing on the same topic, do you think Ireland could compete against the follow Test nations in Test matches?
KO: Yes, of course. A full strength Irish side could match any of the top nations in the world.
CW: What is your take on Irish players moving to England for greener pastures? Do you think the ICC as the governing body should have some control over this drain of players from associates to full members?
KO: It’s dissapointing to loose some of our best players, but I dont get angry at them. They are making a living out of cricket and are professional athletes. Ideally we would like to keep all our players, but hard decisions have to be made.
CW: On that note, would you be tempted to take up a spot with the England cricket team if it were to come your way?
CW: You were part of two big upsets, Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup and England in the 2011 World Cup. Is there a particular one of those that the team cherished the most?
KO: I don’t know to be honest. Both victories were fantastic for Irish Cricket and helped to put us on the map. It shows what we are capable of and that we have a very good side.
CW: Can you tell us more in your own words about your magical knock against England in the 2011 World Cup? Was there a point in the match where you thought we can really win this here?
KO: I remember very litle to be honest. We were up against it, and myself and Cusy took a chance. We played a lot of shots and chanced our arm. I remember looking at the scoreboard and seeing we only needed about 95 off 15 overs or so, and I thought to myself that we can win this one.
CW: Having enthralled the Indian audiences with that stunning knock, were you disappointed that you did not get picked for the IPL?
KO: It was a bit of a set back at the time not to get picked, but that is life. Im not going to lose sleep over it. If I get picked I get picked I’m not going to worry about it.
CW: Do you have specific targets in mind for both you and Irish cricket before the next World Cup?
KO: No, I’m just going to go over to Sri Lanka and work hard at improving my game.
CW: You recently launched your official website at kevinobriencricket.com. Do you have any particular plans for it?
KO: I have and I’m very happy with it. It will keep my fans up to date with what I’m up to and will also tell them about my Coaching Academy that I have set up (Kevin O’Brien Cricket Academy). I will be doing a blog while I’m away at the World Cup so that should be interesting.
CW: Can you tell us a bit about your Cricket Academy and how interested children in Ireland can go about getting involved?
KO: I set it up last season after Christmas, and started coaching after I got back from the World Cup in India. Last season I had 15 children take up positions on my One-on-One coaching clinic and it was a great success. 8 out of that 15 went on to gain representative honours within Irish cricket and I was very happy with how the first year went. This year that number increased to 25 and I have expanded into coaching clubs around Ireland. I’m looking to increase that number again next year and hope to have around 40 children involved. For 100 pounds you get five one hour lessons, so it’s great value for money. Anyone interested can go onto my website and can send an email to me directly and I’ll be in touch to arrange everything.
Childhood hero: Kapil Dev.
Best innings and why: England at the World Cup
Best catch: Ive seen some great catches, but the best I saw was from John Mooney v Namibia in South Africa. Fielding at long off, he jumped and caught the ball one handed reverse style! Simply amazing.
Best bowler faced and why: Murali. I didnt know which way it was going to turn!
Quickest bowler faced: Shaun Tait
Opinion on current best bowler/batsman in world cricket today and why: Batsman: Hashim Amla Bowler: Saeed Ajmal
Up-and-coming player to watch: Paul Stirling
Favourite ground: Park Avenue (home of Railway Union Cricket Club)