O`Brien recalls innings that changed his life
Abu Dhabi: One year on from scoring the fastest hundred ever in the cricket World Cup, Ireland batsman Kevin O`Brien has yet to watch the innings in its entirety.
On March 2 last year, O`Brien hit England`s bowlers for 113 from 63 deliveries in Bangalore, reaching three figures in 50 balls to eclipse the previous record set by Australia`s Matthew Hayden against South Africa four years earlier in St Kitts.
O`Brien`s effort propelled his country to a famous victory but, 12 months on, the DVD of that innings is still gathering dust at home.
The 27-year-old all-rounder marked the anniversary by doing two training sessions in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, as he and his Ireland team mates prepared for the ICC World Twenty20 qualifiers taking place this month in the United Arab Emirates.
"I still haven`t seen the innings as a whole, although I`ve seen highlights here and there," he told Reuters by telephone. "I`m not really one for sitting down and watching a full match again. It`s great to have in the DVD collection but I won`t be pulling it out every couple of months to watch it."
"Maybe a couple of years down the line when I`ve hung up the boots, then I can sit down with a few beers and watch it in my house," he said.
Not that O`Brien needs to watch the recording to recall his blazing hitting, which included 13 fours and six sixes as Ireland stunned Andrew Strauss`s side by chasing down an apparently imposing 327-8 after, at one stage, standing at 111-5 in the 25th over in reply.
"I still remember every run scored; it`s hard to forget it and it`s pretty alive in my memory," he said. "I can still look back and see the ball being bowled and the shots I was playing.
"It`s a bit surreal and sometimes I do have to pinch myself. It was one of those freak innings where everything happened (in my favour) on the day.
"It`s great to have from a personal point of view, to be sitting at the top of the list (of fastest individual World Cup hundreds) and it`s great to look back on it as it always puts a smile on my face.
"Time has gone fast for me personally and for the team and it`s hard to believe that one year ago it was the World Cup but I can`t complain as it`s been the best year of my life.
"It changed my life on and off the field. At the start of 2011 I was probably a fair way away from playing county cricket but after that innings Gloucestershire came calling, I was over the moon to play for them and I think I did well for them in one-day cricket.
"My name and profile has increased in India 100 percent or even more than that in the last year since that innings, and I was in the IPL (Indian Premier League) auction recently.
"Unfortunately I didn`t get signed but my name is still out there and hopefully I can get picked up in the next couple of weeks or so."
With Gloucestershire, O`Brien produced another spectacular innings in the English domestic Twenty20 competition in June 2011, scoring 119 from 52 deliveries against Middlesex, this time hitting 11 sixes and seven fours.
His form and profile gave him the opportunity to take part in the recently-concluded Bangladesh Premier League, something his brother Niall, also an Ireland international, opted to join.
However, with Ireland`s selectors making it clear that only players available for the build-up to the T20 qualifiers would be considered for selection, Kevin chose national duty, rejecting the potential for greater financial rewards and the shop-window for his talents Bangladesh would have provided.
"Cricket Ireland`s contract is my bread-and-butter so if I had gone to Bangladesh I would not have been offered a Cricket Ireland contract, so in my opinion it was a no-brainer," he said.
"I wanted to come here (to South Africa) to prepare for the Twenty20 in Dubai. It is one of those things, it was Niall`s decision and it was my decision. He still wants to play for Ireland, he is a world-class player, we still need him back in the team and hopefully he can come back in the summer."
Given the Irish administration`s desire, announced in January, to achieve test status by 2020, O`Brien said it was vital to qualify for September`s T20 event in Sri Lanka.
"It is massive (for us to qualify)," he said. "People in Ireland and other countries expect Ireland to be at every World Cup that is on and that expectation does bring extra pressure.
"We have got a tough group with Kenya and Scotland, as well as Oman, who we played in 2009 and are a dangerous team, and Namibia, who have got some very good hitters and some good bowlers."
"Every team`s going to pose a different threat to us. With only two teams qualifying (out of 16) and Twenty20 being so unpredictable, it would be stupid to rule out any team.
"Our training camp (in South Africa) has been good, we have been doing double sessions every day for the past few days, training hard, putting in the hard yards and trying to get everyone in peak form for Dubai.
"We are all confident in our own abilities that we can go out and do the job and we don`t need to put any more pressure on ourselves than what is already on us. If we play to our own strengths then hopefully that will be enough to come out on top."
The qualifying event takes place in the UAE from March 13-24, with Ireland`s first match against Namibia on the opening day.