O'Brien on potential collision course with Ireland
Wicket-keeper Niall O'Brien is on a collision course with Cricket Ireland over his selection for a lucrative twenty20 league in Bangladesh.
The Northants star's name is in today’s auction for the Bangladesh Premier league – which takes place from 9-20th February – and is in line for a $50,000 (€39,000) payday if he is selected by one of the six franchises.
The problem is that Ireland’s intercontinental cup games against Kenya clash with the BPL – and Phil Simmons wants O’Brien in Africa. Ireland play Kenya on February 12-15th, and again in two ODI World Cup qualifiers on February 18 and 20th.
It is understood O'Brien wants to miss the four day game but is keen to play in the ODIs. He told the Irish Daily Star yesterday that he had been advised not to comment but hoped the situation would be resolved.
"Nialler’s passionate about Ireland and Irish cricket”, said one fellow international.
"Anyone who has played with him can see that he plays with his heart on his sleeve." "Money has nothing to do with it for Nialler.
"He’s just mad keen to develop as a player and thinks this could be a great opportunity to open some doors in Asia.”
World stars such as Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Shahid Afridi are also in today’s auction, at which teams can spend up to $2m each. Each team can buy up to eight overseas players but at least one must be from an Associate nation.
O’Brien is the only Irishman in the auction, and the only associate with a $50,000 price on his head.
There are two players from Afghanistan, and one each from Hong Kong, Netherlands, Denmark, Kenya, Canada and Namibia, all valued at $30,000. The six BPL teams will play ten games each in the tournament, the rights to which were bought by an Indian company last month for $44m.
Ireland’s tour may be in doubt anyway due to an upsurge in violence in east Africa. The Department of Foreign Affairs has advised against all travel within 150 miles of the Somali border because of “a high risk of kidnapping or attack”.
And the UK Foreign Office also warned of the risk of a terrorist attack from the Somalia-based al-Shabab militia. Ireland are scheduled play in Mombasa, which is 250 miles from the Somali border.
UPDATE ** At the auction today, Ireland's wicketkeeper-batsman Niall O'Brien became the most expensive player from the associate nations with Khulna paying $80,000 for the batsman.