England may be the top Test side in the world, but it is a different story in the one-day game, where they are somewhat less than proficient. There was the 6-1 drubbing by Australia after the Ashes and the 5-0 whitewash in India later in the year. But no one expected them to lose to Ireland in the World Cup after they racked up 327 for 8. Not even Kevin O’Brien, who took matters into his own hands with a blistering hundred. In the Telegraph, Jonathan Liew recaps one of 2011’s Alternative Heroes.

Soon the required run-rate, which had threatened to climb into double figures, was heading south. “There wasn’t too much going through my head,” O’Brien says. “I just cleared my mind and told myself to enjoy it. We probably knocked them back a bit. With 16 overs to go, we needed six or seven an over. From there we thought: ‘Gee, we could win this game’.”

Tariq Engineer is a former senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo