Mike Holmans December 10, 2009

Goodbye and hello to Iain O'Brien

Thirty-three is a fair old age to be embarking on a gruelling county career playing more cricket than he has ever done in his life
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Iain O'Brien will be a great tonic for Middlesex © Getty Images
 

In a few days' time, Iain O'Brien will be a former Test cricketer, since he retires after New Zealand's current match against Pakistan. Barring exceptional figures like 0 for 250 or 18 for 80, he will finish his career as a Test bowler with about 70 wickets at about 34 apiece. He may improve on his tally of one five-for in 21 Tests, but his career figures will even then be unimpressive. But the figures tell only a part of the story: much of his contribution over the last two or three years of being a regular in the side is less tangible than is recorded in scorebooks.

New Zealand will always need a bowler who can bowl into the teeth of the howling gale at the Basin Reserve even though the main reward for doing so is exhaustion, and every team needs someone to bowl on flat tracks against well-set top-class batsmen when the best hope of a wicket is a run out. Those are the really hard yards, and Iain O'Brien will run them all and still be disappointed when he is finally taken off. Captains dream of commanding soldiers like O'Brien.

Not only does he do the jobs no-one else wants to do; he always does them with a huge smile on his face. He appears to be just so thrilled to be on the field at all, and the enthusiasm he exudes cannot fail to lift flagging spirits. Bundles of energy like him spur the top players on – if he is still charging in, they have no excuse for slacking even when things look grim.

He has therefore been an important cog in the New Zealand machine even though his tally of wickets has been somewhat smaller than one might have hoped. His announcement of retirement did not exactly depress an entire nation the way Freddie Flintoff's did in England, but that does not mean he won't be missed.

New Zealand's loss, however, is Middlesex's gain. A bowler who is only just good enough for Test cricket ought to be very much a top-ranker in county cricket, particularly at the bottom of Division 2 where Middlesex currently languish, so I'm delighted that Angus Fraser has signed him up. And we get him for the whole season, fitness permitting, rather than just have him flit in and out between serious engagements. Someone with his outlook on playing cricket will be a great tonic in a dressing room which has been rather deflated whereas on the field, his straight-ahead bustle will nicely complement Tim Murtagh's swing and the very promising Steven Finn's height and awkward bounce. With the experienced spin of skipper Shaun Udal, that's the nucleus of an attack which can win promotion - if only the batsmen could string a few good innings together, which almost none of them did in 2009.

It is a one-year deal, with a view to making it three years if his body can stand it – which is as yet unknown because 33 is a fair old age to be embarking on a gruelling county career playing more cricket than he has ever done in his life. But, if one reads his character aright from his blogs, he will just say “Bring it on. I'd play every day and bowl at both ends if I could.”

So, while congratulating him on a worthwhile Test career and wishing him all the best for his final international game, I'll lay out the welcome mat for his entry to the Middlesex fold and hope that his best is yet to come.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Farhod on February 3, 2013, 5:05 GMT

    Nice work Chris, it's a cracking venue I did a wdniedg there last Dec but unfortunately is was dark (and cold) by the time we got there so it was all indoors, but still plenty of lovely areas to shoot in.

  • sagar on December 14, 2009, 10:08 GMT

    i have enjoyed his blog and i will miss it.All the Best to him.

  • CricketIsMyPassion on December 13, 2009, 17:34 GMT

    Iain reminds me of India's medium pacers of yore - Abid Ali and Madan Lal. Both were uncomplaining workhorses. The reason why O'Brien wants to migrate to England is cz his wife is employed there. NZ Cricket should consider finding her a job in NZ and thus retain Iain for the next couple of years as the team needs players like him pretty badly.

  • Blake on December 13, 2009, 13:03 GMT

    God bless you Iain O'Brien.

  • Faheem on December 13, 2009, 10:05 GMT

    It's quite difficult to believe when someone is on the top of their career wants to retire for no matter what reason.His spell on 1st day of 3rd test depicts how good he is.New Zealand team would miss him indeed. Good Luck, Iain!

  • abhishek on December 13, 2009, 9:20 GMT

    its very sad for the blacks as they are losing one of the finest bowlers in this generation.

  • Brenda on December 13, 2009, 8:46 GMT

    having just come from napier and watching Iain play, its a sad day for NZ but a good day for Middlesex, hope they appreciate this man's talents. Your wife is one lucky lady, good luck!

  • Magnum on December 13, 2009, 2:11 GMT

    Oops this is a shock to me, I alawys like NZ cricket team and every player of it for their fighting spirit. O'Brien is bowling great recntly and its a shame he leaves now, I feel for Dan Vettori who has been an one man army for NZ all these while, I hope people give him all credits when he hangs up his boots.

  • Andrew Fernando on December 13, 2009, 0:23 GMT

    The Chaminda Vaas of New Zealand. All heart, and a player who will leave a bit of himself on every field he plays. Good luck with everything Iain. Cricket needs more men like you.

  • mansoor on December 12, 2009, 19:25 GMT

    he is great bowler and it is always lovely to see him bowling.he is really a nice cricketer and proved also that he is also a caring husband. best of luck Ian

  • Farhod on February 3, 2013, 5:05 GMT

    Nice work Chris, it's a cracking venue I did a wdniedg there last Dec but unfortunately is was dark (and cold) by the time we got there so it was all indoors, but still plenty of lovely areas to shoot in.

  • sagar on December 14, 2009, 10:08 GMT

    i have enjoyed his blog and i will miss it.All the Best to him.

  • CricketIsMyPassion on December 13, 2009, 17:34 GMT

    Iain reminds me of India's medium pacers of yore - Abid Ali and Madan Lal. Both were uncomplaining workhorses. The reason why O'Brien wants to migrate to England is cz his wife is employed there. NZ Cricket should consider finding her a job in NZ and thus retain Iain for the next couple of years as the team needs players like him pretty badly.

  • Blake on December 13, 2009, 13:03 GMT

    God bless you Iain O'Brien.

  • Faheem on December 13, 2009, 10:05 GMT

    It's quite difficult to believe when someone is on the top of their career wants to retire for no matter what reason.His spell on 1st day of 3rd test depicts how good he is.New Zealand team would miss him indeed. Good Luck, Iain!

  • abhishek on December 13, 2009, 9:20 GMT

    its very sad for the blacks as they are losing one of the finest bowlers in this generation.

  • Brenda on December 13, 2009, 8:46 GMT

    having just come from napier and watching Iain play, its a sad day for NZ but a good day for Middlesex, hope they appreciate this man's talents. Your wife is one lucky lady, good luck!

  • Magnum on December 13, 2009, 2:11 GMT

    Oops this is a shock to me, I alawys like NZ cricket team and every player of it for their fighting spirit. O'Brien is bowling great recntly and its a shame he leaves now, I feel for Dan Vettori who has been an one man army for NZ all these while, I hope people give him all credits when he hangs up his boots.

  • Andrew Fernando on December 13, 2009, 0:23 GMT

    The Chaminda Vaas of New Zealand. All heart, and a player who will leave a bit of himself on every field he plays. Good luck with everything Iain. Cricket needs more men like you.

  • mansoor on December 12, 2009, 19:25 GMT

    he is great bowler and it is always lovely to see him bowling.he is really a nice cricketer and proved also that he is also a caring husband. best of luck Ian

  • Jojy John Alphonso on December 12, 2009, 19:12 GMT

    Iain, I hope the very best for you. After seeing your performance today, I realized that you still have a lot to offer.

    I hope you re-consider your decision. After all, playing for one's country is a honor like no other. Ask your wife to join you. Is it that difficult, especially since you are willing to make a huge sacrifice for her?

  • ali imran on December 12, 2009, 18:41 GMT

    i am die paki fan but i saw him in this series he is fantastic newzealand will miss hi service.

  • dheeraj calvin on December 12, 2009, 17:42 GMT

    Me and all my Indian friends love your game and your blog !!

    You certainly GOT FANS IN INDIA.... :)

  • Ram on December 11, 2009, 22:37 GMT

    You'll be missed on the international scene,Iain. While I wish you the best in your next step(s), I wish to see your continued association with cricket in some form/manner because it surely needs people like you to counter the shameless, vulgarly commercial, shams going on currently (particularly driven by Modi). The grace and sportive spirit of people like you will surely lend some balance.

  • Suhail wani on December 11, 2009, 16:20 GMT

    I used to read al ur blogs and I had a wish to c u playing fr Black Caps n cheer fr u....anyway gudluck mate...we cricket lovers here in KASHMIR will follow ur blogs if u gonna keep on posting..!

  • Birendra on December 11, 2009, 16:16 GMT

    If KIWIS gonna tour Bangladesh in near future until I finish my medicine here at Ctg..I had a wish to c u playing fr Black Caps n cheer fr u guys..anyway gudluck dude..we cricket lovers here at USTC CTG will follow ur blogs if u gonna keep on posting..!

  • Birendra on December 11, 2009, 15:32 GMT

    Hey pat keep on posting ur blogs abt ur middlesex experience n when Black caps gonna play any test..we ppl here will surely follow u..we all love u..!

  • Deepak on December 11, 2009, 13:10 GMT

    Don't get retired. You are doing good and bring your wife to NZ. Tell her that its lovely place to be there.

  • Rahl on December 11, 2009, 12:34 GMT

    I think that Ian o brian did the right thing by retiring. Family comes first and then cricket. Good to see that he put his heart into his cricket and enjoyed it. Good luck Ian :-)

  • Nasir Ahmed on December 11, 2009, 11:40 GMT

    As a Pakistani, congratulations to Iain for his 4 wickets in the first innings. Of course, I'm desperate for Pakistan to win the game but I wouldn't begrudge him success in the second innings as well. As far as i'm concerned it couldn't happen to a nicer man. He is a rarity in the world of sports; an honest, down to earth sportsman who plays for the love of the game. Iain, you're leaving on a high, cricket fans around the world respect you and wish you the very best in all your endeavours.

  • Gary Parker on December 11, 2009, 11:35 GMT

    A huge loss of someone with qualities you can't teach, of heart, attitude and passion and after reading his blog honesty, As someone who used these qualities to lift his cricketing skills to greater heights, and a great team man to boot. I hope some of those qualities have rubbed off others with more natural talent but not the performance or heart of Iain OBrien. You will be missed Iain. All the best to you and your wife.

  • Monty on December 11, 2009, 11:09 GMT

    He'll be a great asset - he is bowling quicker now than a few years back and hits the bat hard approaching the mid-140skph. I suspect he'll easily avg over 4w a game in CC2.

  • Milan on December 11, 2009, 10:52 GMT

    Many people in the whole world have not understand why Kiwi quickers can't play for long without breaking their body. All of them except the Great Hadlee have not performed for long. A hugely talented bowler named O'Brien is also leaving the scene in few days. We cricket lovers gonna miss him hugely specially teh Kiwis and we request him not to close this blog. Thank you Ian for giving us the entertainment and all the best for your future.

  • M.P.Mani on December 11, 2009, 10:48 GMT

    Best of luck for your future

  • ckt_fan on December 11, 2009, 10:29 GMT

    Great chap, great attitude, amazing bowling in the current series, great loss to NZ cricket! They need such bowlers in their lineup. I've been very impressed with his attitude and I hope he enjoys playing at Lords. Good luck Ian!

  • Sachin Chhabra on December 11, 2009, 10:19 GMT

    I think Ian O'brien is the best fast bowler in the Black Cap Side, NZ will miss his services at field. May God Bless him..

  • Vijay P S on December 11, 2009, 10:05 GMT

    Hi , Ian its a long journey for a cricketer like you . But the New Zealand cricket will felt a gap which is very long to relinquish . Hope you will figure out yurself in Middlesex.All the best in yur furure endevour.

  • Birendra on December 11, 2009, 10:04 GMT

    Miss ur blogs..a real good hearted cricketer..goodluck for future..u have many Nepalese fans too

  • Shannon on December 11, 2009, 9:55 GMT

    Being a kiwi and a fanatical cricket fan, Although I don't make it too most games the sky coverage is always good, O'Brien has been the player with the best attitude in new zealand cricket I have seen in a long time, a great bowler with determination and guts, he will be very missed, but I admire his decision to put family first, I am moving to Ireland in 2010, hopefully I might get to see him play again over in england, You will get greatly missed Iain O'Brien I wish you all the luck in the world for your future cricketing endeavors and lifes challenges starting a family.

  • Hari Prasad on December 11, 2009, 9:47 GMT

    He is one of the finest bowlers NZ had, it would be hard for NZ to find a bowler of his calibre. Good Luck Iain and I wish you all the best, kindly reconsider ur decision once again...

  • Sanchez on December 11, 2009, 9:45 GMT

    OB will be missed at international level but as a testament to his popularity I think I will have to attend my first county game next season.

  • Anuroop Naithani on December 11, 2009, 9:38 GMT

    We will certainly miss you mate. You were one of the international bowlers, who showed consistency in all the formats of the game.

    Best of luck for your future mate.

    Cheers!!

  • Mark on December 11, 2009, 9:25 GMT

    Iain O'Briuen looks like the shrewdest of signings. Middlesex have been a quick bowler short for two seasons now and, time and again, have failed to finish off sides because they did not have one. Teams go 6-down, 7-down and then the tail doubles the score. When Middlesex have got in a winning position, all too often 9, 10, Jack have denied them.

    With a mainly young attack, a mentor who have been there, done that and seen it all, is vital. Finally Tim Murtagh will get some new ball support and Steve Finn and Danny Evans will not have quite so much pressure on them.

    Playing against CC2 sides one suspects that many a batsman will rue his decision not to stay in New Zealand.

    Iain O'Brien looks like the weapon that Middlesex need to change from being promotion pretenders (even last season there was a time when it looked very much on), to real challengers. I would not be surprised to see them go up if he can stay fit.

  • Kasha Kumaaran on December 11, 2009, 9:21 GMT

    His enthusiasm and always smiling demenanour will be missed. I think NZ cricket has lost a true soldier

  • R. Chanachan on December 11, 2009, 9:19 GMT

    In a few years, he might well be remembered as the blogging pioneer - the day when every cricketer is writing his blog. Cheers, basuki

  • Marcus on December 11, 2009, 8:59 GMT

    He got his Test career off to a terrible start. Factor out his first two series, and his record reads 62 wickets at 30.6 from 17 matches, establishing him as probably New Zealand's most consistent bowler of the last couple of years. He'll certainly be missed, and not just by his teammates. Best of luck to him in Middlesex.

  • nlmbalu on December 11, 2009, 8:38 GMT

    I was thrilled by seeing at the begining 51/5 and O'Brien 4 for.excellent bowling. Keep it up. I want o'brien is the man of the match.

  • adit on December 11, 2009, 8:31 GMT

    Congrats on your 4 wickets.I hope you finish your career and this match with 10 wickets.hope you change your mind about retirement

  • Bhavin on December 11, 2009, 8:29 GMT

    Certainly OBri is one the player NZ will miss on the field for long... I really liked watching energized Obri all the times.. and this on going series he impressed me more n more... I wish Obri will retire on high with this test series win and he become MoM

  • pranav on December 11, 2009, 8:27 GMT

    sad he retired just wen he was doin' well.hope he wd reconsider his decision

  • Sumit on December 11, 2009, 8:02 GMT

    Hi lain, although i m indian,but i love u for ur passion for game and ur blogs..DAN vl surely miss u always as we will esp when in need of sm1 bowling into wind..Gud luck for rest of carrer and for fantastic county stint.Cheers

  • BlackCaps on December 11, 2009, 7:32 GMT

    He is a good man with a lot of heart and courage. I just feel he quit when he started to gain momentum but again, its a decision for his family. We support and salute you.

  • rohan on December 11, 2009, 7:24 GMT

    i don't care whether he is a great or not. But i love watching him bowl and play. Afterall how many bowlers or cricketers in general these days, play the game for the love of it and with heart into it...good luck OB..we ll miss u

  • Max on December 11, 2009, 5:59 GMT

    Its very sad, one less fast bowler in international cricket, how many bowlers are left who can consistatly bowl mid 140s now? and bowl that fast into the wind

  • Bala on December 11, 2009, 5:43 GMT

    A very lion-hearted cricketer; always full of life. Hardly have I heard of a bowler asking his captain up front to bowl himself from the toughest end, running into the wind. And very rare that cricketers exit on a high note. Best wishes O' 'Blogger' Brien! Wish to continue reading your blogs!

  • achut gavare on December 11, 2009, 5:41 GMT

    Yes, he is a great blower, we are all missing him.

  • manjula on December 11, 2009, 5:36 GMT

    O'Brien is all heart. Great cricketer, great person. He has many fans in Sri Lanka and I'm sure all over the world. Good luck to a good guy.

  • Richard on December 11, 2009, 5:09 GMT

    Perhaps Iain will provide for Middlesex what big Vince van der Bijl did some years ago - a lot of good cricket and a lot of good humour and encouragement.

  • Dev on December 11, 2009, 4:05 GMT

    I didn't aware of this. I used to follow Iain's blog very intensely, but now I reckon I would certainly miss that. He was doing well for the national team over past few months, very decent player. Though his figures don't indicate that, but he was a rattling performer on the field. NZ will fill his absence. My all good wishes to him. Good bye.

  • SoupOrSalad on December 11, 2009, 3:04 GMT

    I am sad. He is bowling now as good as he has been in his entire career. From following his blog, as if i know him as a friend. He comes across as a very nice, hardworking chap. He is one of the remaining few "old-school" test player, which is a dying breed. Good luck Iain. Will miss your blog the way you gave me vicarious test playing experience.

  • AG Musgrove on December 11, 2009, 2:16 GMT

    Do you think Middlesex could wait just until the after the Aussies have been because we need him? Outstanding bowling 4 fer not many before lunch on day one speaks for itself.

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  • AG Musgrove on December 11, 2009, 2:16 GMT

    Do you think Middlesex could wait just until the after the Aussies have been because we need him? Outstanding bowling 4 fer not many before lunch on day one speaks for itself.

  • SoupOrSalad on December 11, 2009, 3:04 GMT

    I am sad. He is bowling now as good as he has been in his entire career. From following his blog, as if i know him as a friend. He comes across as a very nice, hardworking chap. He is one of the remaining few "old-school" test player, which is a dying breed. Good luck Iain. Will miss your blog the way you gave me vicarious test playing experience.

  • Dev on December 11, 2009, 4:05 GMT

    I didn't aware of this. I used to follow Iain's blog very intensely, but now I reckon I would certainly miss that. He was doing well for the national team over past few months, very decent player. Though his figures don't indicate that, but he was a rattling performer on the field. NZ will fill his absence. My all good wishes to him. Good bye.

  • Richard on December 11, 2009, 5:09 GMT

    Perhaps Iain will provide for Middlesex what big Vince van der Bijl did some years ago - a lot of good cricket and a lot of good humour and encouragement.

  • manjula on December 11, 2009, 5:36 GMT

    O'Brien is all heart. Great cricketer, great person. He has many fans in Sri Lanka and I'm sure all over the world. Good luck to a good guy.

  • achut gavare on December 11, 2009, 5:41 GMT

    Yes, he is a great blower, we are all missing him.

  • Bala on December 11, 2009, 5:43 GMT

    A very lion-hearted cricketer; always full of life. Hardly have I heard of a bowler asking his captain up front to bowl himself from the toughest end, running into the wind. And very rare that cricketers exit on a high note. Best wishes O' 'Blogger' Brien! Wish to continue reading your blogs!

  • Max on December 11, 2009, 5:59 GMT

    Its very sad, one less fast bowler in international cricket, how many bowlers are left who can consistatly bowl mid 140s now? and bowl that fast into the wind

  • rohan on December 11, 2009, 7:24 GMT

    i don't care whether he is a great or not. But i love watching him bowl and play. Afterall how many bowlers or cricketers in general these days, play the game for the love of it and with heart into it...good luck OB..we ll miss u

  • BlackCaps on December 11, 2009, 7:32 GMT

    He is a good man with a lot of heart and courage. I just feel he quit when he started to gain momentum but again, its a decision for his family. We support and salute you.