O'Brien brothers await fate in IPL auction
Ger Siggins (Irish Daily Star)
THE O’Brien brothers will find out today if they have been selected for the cricket equivalent of El Dorado.
The auction for the 2012 Indian Premier League takes place this morning in Bangalore, and the former Railway Union pair are tipped for a lucrative deal.
The brothers will pocket whatever they attract in the auction, and with a low base price of $50,000 they might be tempting in an auction where New Zealand's Brendon McCullum and England's Graeme Swann have reserves of $400,000.
In a guide to the auction, the Times of India singled out both Irishmen for praise.
Kevin’s hard-hitting style has attracted the Chennai Super Kings and Rajahstan Royals, while the newspaper revealed that Adam Gilchrist wants Niall for the Kings XI Punjab.
The IPL auction has lost a little of its sheen, however, and less than $17m is available to the nine teams compared to $62m last year.
Each team can sign 11 foreigners, but only four are allowed play in each game, and several spots are already tied down by the likes of Chris Gayle and Eoin Morgan.
But Kevin O’Brien is confident he can attract a bid, and boost Irish cricket.
“I think if both and Niall and I get signed, it will do a world of good for cricket in Ireland. Awareness for the game will improve.
“It will certainly help raise the profile of the game and hopefully more children will see the cricket as a profession,” Kevin said.
“If we can make it to the IPL, it will give Irish youngsters a chance to think of cricket as a viable career option,” Kevin said.
The auction will be held in the city where he scored the fastest ever World Cup century last March.
“Hopefully the innings against England will stand me in good stead. I did get a faster hundred (in 44 balls) for Gloucestershire this summer, in a T20 match against Middlesex.
“So hopefully both innings will sway the minds of the people bidding on Saturday,” he said.
If they make the cut, Kevin and Niall told the Irish Daily Star, they will donate a sum to the SUAS Charity in Kolkata, for underprivileged children.
Niall recently signed a $39,000 deal to play for Khulna Royal Bengals in the Bangladesh Premier League for a two-week stint this month, which drew him a ban from Phil Simmons.
“The World Cup has made us better cricketers. Having played a great role in the World Cup, I think these factors will help in the IPL auctions,” Niall said.
“The IPL is a great tournament. For six weeks, you get to play with and against the best players in the world,” said Kevin.
“As an Irishman, coming from a country with a small pool of players, that's very special.”
And with Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom recently outlining a plan to achieve Test status by 2020, Kevin believes Irish cricket can only improve in the coming years.
“The last four or five years have been great and the team will only get stronger in the next four or five years,” he said.
“These are exciting times for Irish cricket.”
There are 136 foreign players vying for 29 spots in the IPL, which takes place from April 4-May 27.