A sensational innings from former Nottinghamshire all-rounder Kevin O’Brien masterminded Ireland’s record-breaking 3 wicket win over England in the ICC World Cup match in Bengalaru.
Kevin, two days before his 27th birthday, bludgeoned the quickest World Cup century of all-time and made 113 before being run out when his side were just eleven runs away from their successful run chase.
In pursuit of England’s tally of 327-8 the Irish faltered from the off losing skipper William Porterfield to the first ball of the reply. They were seemingly down and out at 106-4 when O’Brien made his way to the middle in the 23rd over. His first partner Gary Wilson fell almost immediately to leave the innings in tatters at 111-5.
If Andy Flowers’ side thought the points were in the bag at that stage they were quickly forced to reassess the situation.
Attacking from the start, O’Brien raced to his fifty off just 30 deliveries, with 7 x 4’s and 3 x 6’s. He found an ally in Alex Cusack, who helped him reach a century stand from 61 balls and then extend the partnership beyond 150 after just 94 balls.
The Dublin-born O’Brien frequently took the aerial route to the boundary and a 102 yard hit from the bowling of Jimmy Anderson set a new ‘long’ as the biggest hit of the tournament so far.
"It will go down as one of the greatest knocks in World Cup history." - Wayne Noon
Cusack’s departure at 273, ended the stand at 162 – but new batsman John Mooney maintained the strike rate and even though a brilliant piece of fielding from Tim Bresnan finally got rid of O’Brien – the Irish reached their target – the highest ever in World Cup cricket – from the final ball of the 50th over.
O’Brien’s 113 had come from 63 balls faced and he hit 13 boundaries, to go alongside his six maximums. Sporting bleached blonde and purple-dyed hair to promote a cancer charity, he was an obvious choice for the Man of the Match Award and at the presentation ceremony he struggled to comprehend what he’d done.
"Not able to believe it, I am quite speechless. I got a bit of luck and things went my way. If we would have gotten out soon, it would have been a boring game for the supporters and so I decided to chance my arm, it paid off."
In 2009 he had played on a short-term summer contract for Nottinghamshire, featuring in 5 Twenty20 matches, eight one day games and one first class fixture.
His international commitments prevented Nottinghamshire from pursuing their interest any further but he left a positive impression at Trent Bridge.
“It was an excellent innings but it’s no surprise to me that he was capable of something like that because he did it against us whilst he was playing for Ireland,” said Notts Assistant Manager Wayne Noon.
“We asked him to join us for a few weeks in 2009 and he had a lot about him but he was batting down the order and he never really had an opportunity to cut loose.
“His timing of the ball and cricket awareness is excellent and he’s a very good fielder as well. I can see him earning an IPL contract off the back of that innings and it’s well deserved because it will go down as one of the greatest knocks in World Cup history.”