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Kevin O'Brien excited about prospect of IPL debut

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kevin_obrien2Kevin O'Brien, the talented all-rounder in the Irish national cricket team, who entertained Indian audience with a blistering 100 off just 50 balls in the 2011 World Cup against England (the fastest in WC history) is in the auction pot for IPL's Season 5 and we at TheSportsCampus managed to catch up with the Blonde Bomber.

Kevin O'Brien is the youngest of six children in his family and started his cricketing career at the Railway Union Sports Club in Ireland along with his elder brother Niall O' Brien, who also plays with him for the nationalteam. His father Brendan also played for Ireland for the most part of 15 years, starting from 1966 and he too started his career playing for the Railway. Kevin played for the Irish Under 19 team in the Junior World Cup of 2004 and performed really well to take his team through to the semi-finals of the plate division, where they were eventually beaten by Australia. Following that successful campaign with the Junior side he joined the MCC young cricketers academy also in 2004, a move that catapulted him into the national side a few years later.

He is today one of Irelands most prolific performers, having amassed 1660 runs in 64 games at a healthy average of 33.20 and a commendable strike rate of over 80. He has also been an important part of their bowling set up, having taken 49 wickets in those 64 games at an average of a tad over 30 and an economy of under 5 runs per over.

Here is what the Irish superstar had to say when asked about his passion for cricket, the rich sports tradition in his family, the future of Irish cricket and most of all, that wonderful hundred he scored in Bengaluru.

Q.1) On that special Hundred and how he felt after the match....

Ans) My initial reaction after the England World Cup match, wasn't much to be honest. In the few hours after the game the magnitude of the win, and my own personal performance didnt really sink in, but the next day it finally hit home what I achieved. I was in shock, and was speachless for the next day or so. I honestly did have to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. It is a great feeling to look back and realise what we achieved. It gave the sport here in Ireland a huge boost, and there are more and more children playing the game now.

Q.2) On the rich sporting tradition in his family and how he decided to make cricket his profession...

Ans) I was very fortunate to be the youngest of 6 children. We were and all still are very talented in every sport we decided to play. Growing up two hundred yards from Railway Union Sports Club, where the whole family have been members, was such an advantage to all of us. We used to finish school on a Friday afternoon and we would go straight up to Railway and still be there on a Sunday night. It was a great place to grow up, and myself and Niall were so lucky that the children who lived around us were the same age, so there were always a good bunch of us to play football, cricket or whatever sports were on offer. It was great to be able to watch Dad play for the club, but being so young I never got to see him play for Ireland. I joined MCC Young Cricketers, which is an Academy for young players who want to play cricket as a profession, in 2004 after the U19 World Cup, and that was when I realised that I could make a living out of cricket.

Q.3) On the experience he had playing day in/ day out in the English county championship....

Ans) I signed for Gloucestershire on the back of the hundred, and I loved every minute of the 5 months I was there. I had good success personally, in which I scored the fastest century (off 44 balls) of the season against Middlesex in a 20/20 match. I really enjoyed the atmosphere in the club and loved training day in day out. I think I have become a better trainer since I worked with John Bracewell at Gloucestershire. I hope to resign with the club again for the 2012 20/20 but as of now nothing has been confirmed.

Q.4) On whether he too would like to play for England some day (like Ed Joyce and Eoin Morgan)...

Ans) In one word, no. I love playing for Ireland, and I have no feelings towards playing for England. They are a great side, and what Eoin has achieved since he made his debut has been phenomenal. For me, I am enjoying what Ireland are working towards, and want to play for as long as I can.

Q.5) On cricket Ireland's vision of becoming a test playing member of the ICC by 2017...

Ans) I think its a great statement that Cricket Ireland have come out with. We want to keep improving on the pitch, therefore the board need to keep improving off it. I think that by having a goal of where they want the organisation to be by 2020, gives them the stepping stones to achieve these goals. I think it is realistic. The strides we have made in the 5 years since 2007 to now is massive and i can see more and bigger strides in the next few years.

Q.6) On his Idols as a kid...

Ans) In recent years, I loved the way Freddie Flintoff played the game. He was a great all-round cricketer, an aggressive bowler and a powerful middle order batter as well as a great slip fielder. When I was growng up, I did idolise Kapil Dev, and I was even called Kapil Kev down in Railway.

Q.7) On possibly being a part of the IPL extravaganza...

Ans) It is a great chance for me to get into the IPL and I'm honered to be in a position to be on the Auction list. On the back of last years performance, my profile in the sub-continent has increased, and hopefully that will be enough to get me a place in a Franchise for IPL 2012. Obviously I would love to go back to Bangalore as it was where I scored my hundred, but to be honest I would love to play for any one of the Franchises.

Q.8) On the advice he gets from his father Brendan and brother Niall.

Ans) Growing up in a family that was sport mad, there was advice from all my older siblings. When it comes to cricket Dad has the knowledge that his 52 years in the game should have and he always has advice for me, whether it be my head position or where my front foot needs to be, and I'm always listening to what he has to say. With Niall's experience in Uk for the last 10 years, he also has a lot of experience and is never shy of a word or two of advice to improve my game. Its great to have 2 people who know my game so well to call upon if things need attending.

Q.9) On the cricket structure in Ireland and their future as a cricketing nation....

Ans) I think Ireland are in a great position for the future of the game. We have a tremendous youth system and are constantly winning the under age tournaments around Europe. That bodes well for the future of the game here, and we keep producing young talented players who are good enough to come into the senior side.

Q.10) On his favourite passtimes and other hobbies apart from cricket...

Ans) I love to relax with a good movie, and love to watch television. I do like to play golf now and again, and I also play field hockey with Railway Union during the winter months that are not occupied with cricket. I am really getting into cooking, and love to come up with some ideas in the kitchen. I have set up my own coaching academy, coaching up and coming young players from around the clubs in Dublin, and that takes up some of my time as well.

Photograph Copyright: ICC Europe