Ireland news January 31, 2012

Nervous Kevin O'Brien lines up for IPL ticket

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After Kevin O'Brien returned home from the 2011 World Cup, a tournament that featured his heroic 50-ball hundred (the fastest in World Cup history) that shocked England on a balmy evening in Bangalore, one of the first calls he received was from the Cricket Ireland bosses. They wanted to let him know that one of the IPL teams, Kochi Tuskers Kerala, had asked if O'Brien could be signed up as a reserve player. "Unfortunately, since I was not part of the initial auction last year, I could not sign up. That was a little disappointing," O'Brien told ESPNcricinfo. This year, when the IPL opened the window for players to register on the auction list, he did not think twice.

What makes O'Brien's case unique is that among the 144 names on the final list, he is one of only three players representing the Associate countries at the auction. His elder brother, Niall, and Tom Cooper, who plays for Netherlands, are the other Associate players in the auction that will be held on February 4 in Bangalore.

"That last year's performance against England would be hopefully high up on the mind of the bidders come Saturday," O'Brien said of what he hoped for at the auction. That that knock would not be looked upon as a freak innings was made certain by O'Brien: he was signed up by Gloucestershire soon after the World Cup and, last June, playing in the Friends Life t20 match against Middlesex in Uxbridge, O'Brien slammed a 44-ball century, the fastest in domestic Twenty20.

The few thousands who were present on the day were in for a double treat. O'Brien had walked in to open with former New Zealand batsman Hamish Marshall (who now represents Ireland) and built a record opening partnership of 192 runs, with both batsmen scoring centuries. "It was a great day for me. I was opening the batting and I really enjoyed it," O'Brien said. "So now I can not only open, but also play down in the middle order. It is good to have two strings to the bow."

His 113 against England had instantly turned O'Brien, 27, into a national hero. The man from Dublin, who plays for the local Railway Union Cricket Club, became a symbol of pride. A week after returning from the World Cup, O'Brien was dropping his mother off at work when he realised just how popular he had become. "I had a hood on and the [car's] windows were up," O'Brien said. We were at a traffic signal. Suddenly I noticed a cab driver jump out of his car, tap on my window and congratulate me on my performance."

Now, O'Brien felt, he could use that popularity to attract more fans for the IPL in Ireland, if he is bought by any of the nine franchises. "If either myself or Niall were to be bought at the auction, it will certainly raise the profile of the game in Ireland. The public will surely have a huge interest in the IPL, if one of us is playing in it."

Cricket, O'Brien said, has been getting bigger in the country since 2007, when Ireland beat Pakistan in the World Cup. Last year's victory over England has raised the popularity levels of the sport even further. "A lot more people are talking about cricket on the streets," he said. "A lot more people are coming to our games."

In the four previous IPL seasons, there had been only one player from the Associates to play in the IPL: Ryan ten Doeschate, who plays for Netherlands. Despite not having played regularly with the top-bracket teams, O'Brian felt that all three Associate players in the reckoning this year had played enough competitive cricket to stand up to anyone on the international stage. "Niall has been playing county cricket for twelve years now; Tom Cooper plays first-class cricket in Australia; I have played country cricket for Gloucestershire and previously with Nottinghamshire. So we all have got experience."

O'Brien, who was recently appointed the vice-captain of the Ireland team, decided to skip the Bangladesh Premier League [BPL], even if there was healthy interest in him from the franchises. In fact, Niall was signed by Khulna Royal Bengal for US $80,000. "Unfortunately it [the BPL] clashes with the 2015 World Cup qualifying matches in Kenya, and then qualifiers for the World Twenty20 in March," O'Brien said. "Hopefully I will be there next year. My contract with Cricket Ireland comes first and everything else next."

As far as the franchises' interest in him goes, O'Brien could remain optimistic. "He is a good pick. A value for money one, in the way ten Doeschate was for Kolkata Knight Riders," a franchise official said. ten Doeschate, the 2011 ICC Associate and Affiliate Player of the Year (he picked up the award three times in the last four years) was bought by Knight Riders for $150,000, after having his base price set at $50,000.

"Unfortunately, there are quite a lot of players with his [O'Brien'] type of skills. [But] There is no doubt he is a quality player," said a coach from another franchise. "He and his brother are good players and franchises will definitely consider them during the bidding." Asked if O'Brien had catapulted himself into the minds of the potential bidders solely on the back of his match-winning performance against England, the coach did not agree. "He is a good hitter of the ball and we have seen it for a while now," he said.

Small wonder then, the O'Brien brothers have planned to spend this weekend together, waiting to see whether either or both of them have earned their IPL ticket. "Niall is coming over on the weekend and we are going to follow the auction on the internet," O'Brien said. "It is going to be a nervous morning."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on February 3, 2012, 5:39 GMT

    i suggest deccanchargers to go for players like andre russel, sunil narine,u can get them at a low cost and they r potential winners

  • class9ryan on February 2, 2012, 9:24 GMT

    There aren't too many good cricketers in d associate nations and d O'Brien brothers r really for some good capability and power-hitting. May they get a I P L team and show their talent .

  • on February 2, 2012, 9:14 GMT

    Common MI..go get sm gud players..but 4 god's sake..dont pick ravider jadeja even for free.....d useless guy has the record of losing more number of matches in his 2-3 year career den wht nrml players even play in their 15 year career....d guy can't bat, can't bowl and can't even field.....let him go to some oder team so v'll b benefitted whn v play agnst dem.....go MI

  • DEEPROCKS22 on February 2, 2012, 7:36 GMT

    come on....Mumabai Indians..lets wish Kevin to be our champion side...please nita pick kevin...so kevin & polly blast IPL5

  • on February 2, 2012, 6:51 GMT

    KKR will surely be the team tht will do some smart shopping.... hope KKR will buy either him or ravindra jadeja!

  • class9ryan on February 1, 2012, 13:49 GMT

    Kevin is a dashing opener . Common Mumbai pick him up . U need a good complement 2 Tendulkar.

  • Irelandcricketfan on February 1, 2012, 13:11 GMT

    Good man Kevin, do your stuff. Niall shouldn't be forgotten in this. He is an excellent natural keeper and very consistent.

  • Juniorklassy on February 1, 2012, 12:08 GMT

    Best Luck Kevin...Come to Mumbai Indians.. :-).. Cheers :-)

  • Hrit24 on February 1, 2012, 11:38 GMT

    Kevin O'Brien, one of the best players in the Associate nations, will be wanted by any team. He can open, he can bat in the middle-order, he can bowl if need. I hope he plays for Kolkata Knight Riders. I am from Kolkata and look forward to their picking up their maiden IPL Trophy, more so after their really optimistic IPL 4 season.

  • on February 1, 2012, 9:51 GMT

    Good man Kev. The boys at Park Avenue are behind you and Nialler all the way. Best of luck

  • on February 3, 2012, 5:39 GMT

    i suggest deccanchargers to go for players like andre russel, sunil narine,u can get them at a low cost and they r potential winners

  • class9ryan on February 2, 2012, 9:24 GMT

    There aren't too many good cricketers in d associate nations and d O'Brien brothers r really for some good capability and power-hitting. May they get a I P L team and show their talent .

  • on February 2, 2012, 9:14 GMT

    Common MI..go get sm gud players..but 4 god's sake..dont pick ravider jadeja even for free.....d useless guy has the record of losing more number of matches in his 2-3 year career den wht nrml players even play in their 15 year career....d guy can't bat, can't bowl and can't even field.....let him go to some oder team so v'll b benefitted whn v play agnst dem.....go MI

  • DEEPROCKS22 on February 2, 2012, 7:36 GMT

    come on....Mumabai Indians..lets wish Kevin to be our champion side...please nita pick kevin...so kevin & polly blast IPL5

  • on February 2, 2012, 6:51 GMT

    KKR will surely be the team tht will do some smart shopping.... hope KKR will buy either him or ravindra jadeja!

  • class9ryan on February 1, 2012, 13:49 GMT

    Kevin is a dashing opener . Common Mumbai pick him up . U need a good complement 2 Tendulkar.

  • Irelandcricketfan on February 1, 2012, 13:11 GMT

    Good man Kevin, do your stuff. Niall shouldn't be forgotten in this. He is an excellent natural keeper and very consistent.

  • Juniorklassy on February 1, 2012, 12:08 GMT

    Best Luck Kevin...Come to Mumbai Indians.. :-).. Cheers :-)

  • Hrit24 on February 1, 2012, 11:38 GMT

    Kevin O'Brien, one of the best players in the Associate nations, will be wanted by any team. He can open, he can bat in the middle-order, he can bowl if need. I hope he plays for Kolkata Knight Riders. I am from Kolkata and look forward to their picking up their maiden IPL Trophy, more so after their really optimistic IPL 4 season.

  • on February 1, 2012, 9:51 GMT

    Good man Kev. The boys at Park Avenue are behind you and Nialler all the way. Best of luck

  • on February 1, 2012, 7:59 GMT

    Come on dc kick out tht useless dan christian and get kevin o brien he is a big hitter and a gud medium pacer like pollard and we can get himvat a low cost

    wow andre russl,keiron pollard,kevin o brien,mitch marsh,dan christian all medium pacer all rounders are a big plus for any t20 team

    craig keiswetter and tim paine are the best t20 hitters who can hit veru big and keep too

    swann will be left unsold he is useless on indian pitches and a team doesnt need more than one specialist spinners johan botha and roelof van der merwe are the best t20 spinning all rounders at present swann is no where near them

    ravindra jadeja ,r.p singh will grab huge money this tym in indian players and frm overseas johnson will rule !! Followed by mccullum,andre russel and jayawardene and kevin obrien,andersen.

    Dan christian is sooo useless on indian pitches even amit mishra had better strike rate than him for dc last yr.

  • Akhilesh_Shenoy on February 1, 2012, 7:41 GMT

    Hope mumbai indians pick up both kevin o brien n ravindra jadeja....they will then become the favorites to pick up their 1st ipl !!! Go MI !!!

  • anver777 on February 1, 2012, 7:35 GMT

    Whoever picks Kevin, they will be surely benefited......... A real thunderstorm in T20 cricket, is the man to watch in this IPL !!!!!!!!!!!

  • 9ST9 on February 1, 2012, 6:24 GMT

    one of the first leagues to pick up Kevin O' Brien was the SLPL, which was cancelled. He was slated to play for the Ruhuna Rhinos.

  • Sakthiivel on February 1, 2012, 5:42 GMT

    Get him to CSK... We need some good middle order hitter...

  • johnathonjosephs on February 1, 2012, 3:30 GMT

    The most important part in this article that everybody should have realized is when he claimed that Ireland has gotten more into cricket. Hands down the most significant part of the article. If we can host a IPL like tournament or something in Ireland, it would do great amounts for the game. Especially after they beat England in the world cup (their arch enemy), if they find they can play a sport that can rival England, Ireland will produce test status players in only a couple years

  • satish619chandar on February 1, 2012, 3:25 GMT

    KOB can open batting too.. Bowl if needed.. Good package to have for any team..

  • sammykent on January 31, 2012, 22:51 GMT

    I'm looking forward to the prospect of Kevin playing in the IPL. I would rate his performance at the World Cup as one of the most amazing sporting achievements I have witnessed. The reaction to that innings by the fans, commentators and especially his team mates, was joyous to behold. Good luck to him and let's hope he gets plenty of games and a healthy pay cheque.

  • Sac_Jap on January 31, 2012, 22:31 GMT

    Kevin will be definitely bought in IPL auctions on 4th Feb. My guess is, he will fetch more than $500,000. Not sure about his brother though!

  • on January 31, 2012, 19:10 GMT

    Kevin... u r an entertainer....

  • on January 31, 2012, 17:58 GMT

    Just goes to show how much of a segregated sport Cricket really is, if you're not from one of the *Chosen nations* you don't get a fair chance to compete or make a living in the Sport. Baseball reaches more parts of the globe, and the MLB player registration is proof that they don't see passports or birth certificates as a measure of talent or RIGHT to play a Sport. Cricket NEEDS to get to that stage!

  • on January 31, 2012, 17:36 GMT

    I wish IPL considers handy 20.20 players like Mehboob Alam and Paras Khadka. Not only because they are good players but also Nepal being closer to India and Cricket being highly popular in Nepal. I bet among the affiliates and associates, Nepal draws the biggest crowds to the cricket stadium. So in future IPL can even move some of its matches to Kathmandu because its in appropriate traveling distance in between matches. I know BCCI is not considering IPL moving out of India since Sri-Lanka was denied but they have to look at the brighter side since the game has to flourish to maintain the support from the crowds.

  • on January 31, 2012, 17:27 GMT

    I hope you do great, man. Looking forward to see some of your monster sixes. Don't hold anything back. Hit out or get out should be your attitude.

  • Adeel9 on January 31, 2012, 17:13 GMT

    G'Luck Mate... The knock against England was unbelievable. Some franchise will pick him up. There should be separate window for players from associate and affiliate nations. That'd be a great boost for cricket in their country as well as a financial reward for talented players

  • on January 31, 2012, 16:14 GMT

    As A Middx fan it hurts to say this but I reckon a bargain buy for Jason Roy could be a great shout for someone.

  • theswami on January 31, 2012, 16:03 GMT

    All the 3 will be bought ... Bengalooru require a good 'keeper & I think Niall is the only high profile 'keeper on this year's list. Kevin will have taker in Mumbai,Kolkata, Rajasthan. Cooper is a solid batsman,one of too many & will compare with the uncapped overseas player.

  • Baundele on January 31, 2012, 15:54 GMT

    Please do not play for KKR. You'll never get a game.

  • the_wallster on January 31, 2012, 15:22 GMT

    Good luck to him. Absolutely hammered us last yer, and had an excellent t20 tournament with gloucs. Deserves a chance in the IPL

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • the_wallster on January 31, 2012, 15:22 GMT

    Good luck to him. Absolutely hammered us last yer, and had an excellent t20 tournament with gloucs. Deserves a chance in the IPL

  • Baundele on January 31, 2012, 15:54 GMT

    Please do not play for KKR. You'll never get a game.

  • theswami on January 31, 2012, 16:03 GMT

    All the 3 will be bought ... Bengalooru require a good 'keeper & I think Niall is the only high profile 'keeper on this year's list. Kevin will have taker in Mumbai,Kolkata, Rajasthan. Cooper is a solid batsman,one of too many & will compare with the uncapped overseas player.

  • on January 31, 2012, 16:14 GMT

    As A Middx fan it hurts to say this but I reckon a bargain buy for Jason Roy could be a great shout for someone.

  • Adeel9 on January 31, 2012, 17:13 GMT

    G'Luck Mate... The knock against England was unbelievable. Some franchise will pick him up. There should be separate window for players from associate and affiliate nations. That'd be a great boost for cricket in their country as well as a financial reward for talented players

  • on January 31, 2012, 17:27 GMT

    I hope you do great, man. Looking forward to see some of your monster sixes. Don't hold anything back. Hit out or get out should be your attitude.

  • on January 31, 2012, 17:36 GMT

    I wish IPL considers handy 20.20 players like Mehboob Alam and Paras Khadka. Not only because they are good players but also Nepal being closer to India and Cricket being highly popular in Nepal. I bet among the affiliates and associates, Nepal draws the biggest crowds to the cricket stadium. So in future IPL can even move some of its matches to Kathmandu because its in appropriate traveling distance in between matches. I know BCCI is not considering IPL moving out of India since Sri-Lanka was denied but they have to look at the brighter side since the game has to flourish to maintain the support from the crowds.

  • on January 31, 2012, 17:58 GMT

    Just goes to show how much of a segregated sport Cricket really is, if you're not from one of the *Chosen nations* you don't get a fair chance to compete or make a living in the Sport. Baseball reaches more parts of the globe, and the MLB player registration is proof that they don't see passports or birth certificates as a measure of talent or RIGHT to play a Sport. Cricket NEEDS to get to that stage!

  • on January 31, 2012, 19:10 GMT

    Kevin... u r an entertainer....

  • Sac_Jap on January 31, 2012, 22:31 GMT

    Kevin will be definitely bought in IPL auctions on 4th Feb. My guess is, he will fetch more than $500,000. Not sure about his brother though!