Kevin Joseph O'Brien
March 04, 1984, Dublin, Ireland
Right hand bat
Right arm medium fast
Kevin O'Brien wrote his name into Irish cricketing lore with a magical innings against England on a balmy March evening in Bangalore. Entering the fray with his team 106-4 - and soon 111-5 - in pursuit of England's 327, he hit six huge sixes in a 50-ball century - the fastest in World Cup history - to set up a historic three-wicket win. It was the highest successful run chase in World Cup history and imbued new urgency into Ireland's claims for greater opportunities against Test-playing sides. Stocky and with his hair dyed pink, in aid of a cancer charity, O'Brien instantly became a poster boy in Ireland and beyond.
In the years since, O'Brien developed into a regular presence on the domestic T20 circuit, although his primary contract is with Cricket Ireland. By the end of 2014 he had played for four English counties, and in T20 competitions in Bangladesh, the West Indies and New Zealand. While Ireland have been disappointed by their lack of opportunities - they played fewer ODIs against Full Members from 2011 to 2015 than 2007 to 2011 - O'Brien has remained a formidable cricketer for them, and hit 84* from 47 balls to secure a tie against Pakistan in 2013. He has also captained Leinster Lightning in the new Irish interpro series, and has been given the responsibility of captaincy when Ireland's county professionals have not been available. O'Brien hit consecutive half-centuries as skipper in the ODI series win against Scotland in September 2014.
As well as a belligerent batsman, O'Brien is also a canny medium-paced bowler, and he has developed his variations during his time in foreign T20 leagues. He is the younger brother of Niall O'Brien, although the two have very different characters, with Kevin known as being far more laid back.
Kevin has had a critical involvement in Ireland's rise. He represented Ireland at the 2004 Under-19 World Cup in which he racked up 241 runs and, laying down a marker for the future, also struck 35 from 48 balls against England during Ireland's maiden ODI. He also performed usefully in the 2007 World Cup, including making a priceless 52-ball 16* during the victory over Pakistan on St Patrick's Day: one of his most uncharacteristic innings but no less valuable for it.
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