Niall O'Brien said he knew that his kid brother Kevin, was warming up for a big one when he saw him on the field in Ireland's match against England on Wednesday night. There were, apparently, some signs of smoke. O'Brien Junior had misfielded, wrenched his knee and Niall, told ESPNcricinfo, he knew the runs were going to come because, "in the field he was grumpy, he was moping around... when he's like that, he tends to kinda take the bull by the horns as it were." Niall, 29, said, "I don't know why he was grumpy, I think he just slept badly or something, he had misfielded few balls, he hurt his knee and I just knew, that he had that kind of look in his eye."
The look in the eye turned into the power of Kevin's bat, "he's got that strength and the ability to hit the ball out of the ground," his brother said. Kevin's stormtrooper century (113 off 63b), the fastest at the World Cup (100 off 50 balls), set the record for the highest World Cup chase, and threw England's campaign into total turmoil after an upset three-wicket win.
Niall, wicketkeeper and Man of the Match during Ireland's stunning victory over Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup called the Irish win on Wednesday night, "regulation." The distance travelled by Ireland in the last four years, he said, should have prepared cricket for last night's performance. "In the last four years, we've come a long way. In 2007, we were only a few professional cricketers and we created a lot of shocks. These aren't shocks.
"Everyone is surprised, there is a lot of media hype, but for us, this is regulation. We should have beaten Bangladesh, we have beaten England." Ireland, he said, expected to win every game they played. "We play India on Sunday, we expect to win, we want to win. We have respect for every team we play against, equally they all have respect for us." Ireland's victory has now thrown open the group.
The next step for the team, O'Brien said, would be regular matches against the world's frontline teams, "We want to play cricket full-time, we want to play cricket all around the world, we want to travel to Australia, travel to India, travel to Sri Lanka, New Zealand, everywhere. We want to play cricket on the future tours programme." He said the team wanted to "give ourselves the chance" to play a good number of ODIs and T20Is every year. "They probably play 20-30 one day games, and 15-20 Twenty20s per year and we would love to do that for two-three years and see how we pan out. If after two-three years we are not good enough, so be it. At least we could try. I think we've got a great squad of players and we've got, I think, the strongest team spirit in this tournament."
The support given to the Irish by the Indian crowd, he said, meant that Ireland had the "Indian public behind us." The next step would be, "to play well for another two or three weeks and hopefully Indian cricket and the BCCI will get behind us, the strongest power in world cricket." The possibility of an IPL contract excited both brothers, "so hopefully we can do well and hopefully they will come and speak to us so that myself and Kevin come and live in India for a bit." Did he see himself on one of those giant advertising hoardings featuring cricketers now found on Indian streets? "It would be nice to get me and my brother up there, two very good looking men."