Irish cricket all-rounder Kevin O’Brien, most famed for his quick fire 113 runs against England in 2011, spoke with The Edition following Ireland’s early exit from the ICC World Twenty20 last month.

Ireland had a disappointing finish to the world cup as they lost a close game against The Netherlands on the final day of the group stages and missed out on qualification for the main stage of the tournament.

On their early exit, O’Brien said “I think for two and a half games we played quite well, it was I suppose disappointing in the end to not finish the third game with a victory but you want to give the credit to Holland for the way they batted.”

“I know we didn’t bowl as well as we could have which was disappointing but we can’t dwell on it too much we just have to take the positives from the tournament and move on, but I suppose if you look at the whole of the winter since January our main objective was to qualify for the super ten and we didn’t get that.”

Those positives that he speaks of include a win over full member nation Zimbabwe and also a win from earlier in the winter against The West Indies in Jamaica. It is these wins that help to boost the profile and stature of cricket for associate nations such as Ireland and help to build their case for test cricket.

Kevin points out that Ireland no longer need their ‘minnows’ tag as they now are “in with a chance” of beating these full member sides; “Any time that we beat a full member is certainly good for the profile of the game here. Any time that we play them we are right in with a chance of winning every game.

“Those two wins were extra special, especially the game with the West Indies, beating them in their own back garden in Jamaica so that was extra pleasing.”

However, as seen with the recent Netherlands’ loss to Sri Lanka, when the Dutch were bowled out for 39 runs, associate cricket can also have its bad days. The Dutch captain Peter Borren publicly apologised to the other associate teams after this loss and Kevin agrees that defeats like this can damage associate cricket.

“I think they do [damage associate cricket]. I suppose when you look at cricket and especially T20, every team is capable of not performing to the best, but to be bowled out for a low score such as 39 it just makes it that little bit more difficult for the associate world. Yes test teams can get bowed out for low scores but it just looks even worse when its associate teams getting bowled out for such a low target” he said.

It is worth noting however, that The Netherlands did bounce back with a strong win over England later in the world cup.

The next time Ireland play an international match are the two ODIs (one day internationals) that they have against Sri Lanka in Clontarf, Dublin, on May 6th and 8th. Kevin says that before they turn their focus to these
games, the players are taking a mental and physical break from the game.

“I’m taking a couple of weeks off away from cricket and just trying to get away from the game. It has been a long winter for me and all of the guys; we’ve been on the go since December so I think a little break will be good for all of us as players and as a squad. We’ll readdress the Sri Lanka games come mid April when we meet up and start training again over here.” He said.

He continued on to say that for him personally, there is not too big a mental change when switching between the different formats of the game.

“Individually and personally I’ll just approach the games the same way I do any other format I look to try and play the exact same way when I’m batting and when I’m bowling so for me shifting between the different forms is a lot less stressful for me than it might be for other players.”

Sri Lanka have recently won the World T20 and are on a run of very good form. They have also named a formidable side to play in Clontarf next month including international stars such as Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Lasith Malinga and so Ireland are set to have a tough match on their hands.

However, with Irish cricket continuing to develop in a positive fashion and taking wins over full members such as The West Indies, they may yet pull off another surprise victory in front of a home crowd.