Ireland cricket great O’Brien retires from ODIs

DUBLIN (Agencies): Kevin O’Brien, the Ireland allrounder whose record-breaking hundred stunned England at the 2011 World Cup, has announced his retirement from the 50-over format.
O’Brien, 37, will carry on playing at Test and T20I level, but has chosen to bow out of the format in which he made his debut against England as a 22-year-old in 2006, in Ireland’s first full ODI. He went on to make 3618 runs from 153 ODIs, and claim 114 wickets, the most by any Ireland bowler. His 68 outfield catches is another national record, while he played 95 of his matches alongside his elder brother, Niall, who retired in 2018.
“After 15 years playing for Ireland, I feel now is the right time to step away and retire from ODI cricket,” O’Brien said. “It has been an honour and a privilege to represent my country 153 times. The memories I take from them will last a lifetime”.
Those memories include appearances at three World Cups, including the 2007 event in the Caribbean, the moment when Ireland truly made their mark on international cricket.
Their historic victory over Pakistan at Sabina Park sent shockwaves through the sport, and O’Brien played an integral role in Ireland’s tense run-chase, digging in from an unbeaten 16 from 52 balls to guard against a collapse before the captain Trent Johnston struck the winning six to seal a three-wicket win.
However, it was four years later at the 2011 event in India that O’Brien played the innings for which he will forever be remembered – a breath-taking knock of 113 from 63 balls in Bangalore, including a century from 50 balls that remains the fastest in World Cup history. Replying to England’s imposing total of 327 for 8, Ireland had slumped to 106 for 4 when he arrived at the crease, which soon became 111 for 5. But he responded to the adversity with an outrageous counterattack, cracking 13 fours and six sixes, before falling in the penultimate over with 11 runs still needed. However, John Mooney kept his cool to seal the chase, with Johnston again unbeaten at the other end.
“That innings alone probably gave many of us the opportunity to become professional cricketers in Ireland,” Andrew Balbirnie, Irleland’s captain, said. “I think everyone within Irish cricket owes a huge amount to Kevin O’Brien for what he’s done for the sport in this country. “We’re losing a big personality in the ODI squad, and a really good friend, but this is not the end of Kevin O’Brien and I look forward to seeing what he can do in the other two formats.”
O’Brien featured again for Ireland at the 2015 World Cup, but the team missed out on qualification in 2019, and his form in recent campaigns has slipped away.
He made a highest score of 31 in 11 ODIs since the start of 2020, and has decided the time is right to cut back his commitments.

“This has not been an easy decision, but after ongoing consideration I don’t feel I can contribute to the ODI team as much as I have in the past,” he said. “The hunger and love for the ODI format is no longer the same as it was and it wouldn’t be fair to continue to play while no longer feeling at 100%.
“I’ve had some unbelievable moments with the team since 2006 – the three World Cups, the personal successes and spending time travelling and playing all over the world, but I will now shift my focus and remain fully committed to T20 cricket – with two World Cups in the next 18 months – and hoping to add to my three caps in Test cricket.”