Ireland beating England

A green day in cricket history

Alan Gardner

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It was the night on which a stocky, sweaty, pink-haired boy from Dublin bestrode the cricketing world - and that only begins to sum up the madness. Kevin O'Brien did not take down England single-handedly, nor was he in the middle when Ireland's most famous cricket victory was completed, but his frankly bonkers assault on the game's founding father sealed his place in folklore.

After England had totted up 327 for 8 in business-like fashion, few gave Ireland much hope. They then lost a wicket off the first ball of the reply, before slipping to 111 for 5 almost exactly halfway through; some bookmakers were offering 400 to 1.

O'Brien didn't just upset the odds, he left them sobbing in a darkened corner. Facing an asking rate of more than eight and a half an over, Ireland's No. 6 decided to pose a few questions of his own: two fours off Michael Yardy helped him find his stride, two sixes against Graeme Swann signalled his power. His half-century came from 30 balls, but he wasn't half done.

Kevin O'Brien went boom against the old neighbours © Getty Images

Runs flowed in a cascade, 162 of them for the sixth wicket, and even the loss of Alex Cusack just after O'Brien had reached his hundred could not derail Ireland. A tiring O'Brien was eventually run out for 113, but the job was as good as done; John Mooney struck the winning runs as Ireland completed the highest successful chase in World Cup history with five balls to spare. O'Brien and his shocking pink mop - a rather sickly dye job in aid of charity - had shocked the world.

It was also a vision of the future, of sorts, presaging Ireland's rise to Test status, while O'Brien's 50-ball hundred remains the fastest in World Cup history. "I chanced my arm," he said afterwards. And the Irish were in luck.

Alan Gardner is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick