Insults failed to hinder batsman

 

AUDREY WARD

6 March 2011

The Sunday Times
 

 

IT REALLY wasn’t cricket: Irish batsman Kevin O’Brien has revealed that the English team “sledged” him during his record-breaking innings in Bangalore last Wednesday. Sledging is the practice in cricket of a player being insulted or verbally intimidated by the opposing team.

In an interview for The Sunday Times, O’Brien revealed: “There was a little bit of sledging on the field but I didn’t come back with any smart comments. I guess when the ball has disappeared you don’t really say much, do you?

“At the end of the match the English players came and shook hands with us and were magnanimous in defeat. They made a point of congratulating me on my innings. I would have been a bit annoyed if they hadn’t.”

O’Brien, who scored the fastest 100 runs in the history of the World Cup, revealed England captain Andrew Strauss afterwards joined the celebrations in the Irish hotel, which continued until 4am. “It was my birthday and Strauss’s birthday on Friday, and everyone sang Happy Birthday to the pair of us. I don’t think he appreciated that,” the Irish player said.

Paul Collingwood and Matt Prior, two other members of the English team, also joined the after-match party with their Irish counterparts.

O’Brien said President Mary McAleese called him on Thursday to say the win was a fantastic achievement for Irish sport. “She also told me that it’s a great day when Ireland can beat England and described my efforts as Cuchulainn-esque,” he said. “I didn’t really know what she meant at the time — I’m not a great history man — but I found out afterwards that it had something to do with a sliotar [hurling ball] being hit across the Irish Sea.”

The Dubliner is hoping that he and his brother, Niall, another member of the Irish team, will get offers from Indian premier league teams, after their record run-chase against England. “If a team could come in for both of us, that would be fantastic,” O’Brien said.

Today Ireland play India, and the team is under no illusions about the local support they received last week being replicated. “The locals had our backs during the England match,” O’Brien said. “They probably just wanted to support the underdog, and they have a big rivalry with England, more so than ours, so that’s why they jumped on the Irish bandwagon.

“It’s obviously going to be different today. We’re going to have 50,000 Indians who won’t be cheering for us at all, but I bet the atmosphere will be great. Although India are the tournament favourites, confidence is sky high with the lads after the win.

“We can upset the likes of India and South Africa. We’re not here to make up the numbers.”