Ireland legend Kevin O’Brien has announced his retirement from international cricket, leaving a lasting legacy on the game.
Making his debut for Ireland in 2006, O’Brien was a central figure in his team’s rise from Associate Membership to Test match status across a career that spanned close to two decades.
O’Brien bows out with a number of batting records, and as Ireland’s leading wicket taker in the ODI format, claiming 114 scalps at an average of 32.68 and an economy rate of 5.20.
Among a range of records for Ireland with the blade, O’Brien still holds the record for the fastest ICC Men's Cricket World Cup century, thanks to his incredible match-winning knock in 2011 against England in Bangalore.
O’Brien belted 13 fours and six sixes during his breath-taking knock of 113, bringing up three figures in just 50 balls as the unfancied side chased down 328 in sweltering conditions.
The all-rounder had a knack of performing on the biggest stage, claiming a crucial wicket in a dramatic 2007 Cricket World Cup tie with Zimbabwe, and nursing home a tricky run chase alongside Trent Johnston against Pakistan at the same tournament. In the middle during Ireland’s win over UAE at the 2015 Cricket World Cup, O’Brien was equally vital in Ireland’s T20 World Cup campaigns, blazing 39 not out from just 17 balls against Bangladesh in 2009, capping off the performance by hitting the winning runs.
O’Brien was a pillar in Ireland’s push for Full Membership, and the team were granted Test status in 2017 after the team’s continued success in global tournaments and World Cricket League events.
Ireland played their first Test match against Pakistan in May 2018, and O’Brien was again the key man. After making 40 in the opening innings, O’Brien walked out at 95/4, with his side still needing 85 to make Pakistan bat again.
Batting with the lower order, O’Brien was resolute. In spite of the movement in the air and off the seam, he did enough against a Mohammad Amir delivery, squeezing into the off-side to register Ireland’s first ever Test century. His 118 forced Pakistan in a tricky fourth innings chase, with the visitors recovering from a precarious 14/3 to eventually win by five wickets. O’Brien’s efforts were enough to claim Player of the Match honours.
The 38-year-old leaves the team behind only Paul Stirling in terms of runs across all official international formats (5820), and behind George Dockrell as the second-highest wicket taker (172).
The 38-year-old has already turned to coaching in his career transition, as a member of Italy’s staff during their Cricket World Cup Challenge League campaign, and as a consultant for Estonia prior to their men’s 2024 T20 World Cup qualification appearance.
Kevin O’Brien’s achievements
- Fastest ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup century - 50 balls
- First and only Ireland player to make a Test century
- Only Ireland player with a century in all three formats of international cricket
- 2013 ICC Men’s Associate Cricketer of the Year
- 3rd-most men’s ODI runs for Ireland (3619)
- 2nd-most men’s T20I runs for Ireland (1973)
- Most ODI wickets for Ireland (114)
- 16th player to take a wicket with the first ball of their ODI career (Andrew Strauss)
- 3rd most men’s T20I wickets for Ireland (58)
- Highest Cricket World Cup partnership for the sixth wicket (162 with Alex Cusack v England)
- 4th Ireland Men’s ODI captain
- 2nd Ireland Men’s T20I captain
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