Born November 8, 1981, Niall John O’Brien is an Irish cricketer and one of the most successful wicket-keepers of the nation. The left-handed Irish batsman is known for his aggressive batting and has played crucial role in all the three World Cups which Ireland have played. As O’Brien turns 35, Abhishek Kumar picks out 10 little known facts about him.
1. Sporting family: O’Brien hails from a family where almost everyone is a sportsperson. Starting from the roots, his father Brendan aka Ginger has played club cricket for Ireland and then his sister Ciara has also represented Ireland U19 Women’s team. Following the family tradition, his younger brother Kevin too became a cricketer and represented Ireland along with him.
2. His favourite batsman and bowler: Brian Lara is O’Brien’s favourite batsman and spin legend Shane Warne is his favourite bowler.
3. Dare to chirp at MS Dhoni: In an interview with ESPNCricinfo, O’Brien once said that, “Someone like MS Dhoni. I wouldn’t say anything to him. He’s the kind of character where it’s best to say nothing.”
4. His worst roommate: During the 2010 World Twenty20 in West Indies, he had to share his room with George Dockrell, whom he says his worst roommate. Dockrell was very young at that time.
5. Superstitious habit: Cricketers are often seen being superstitious. O’Brien belongs to the similar breed of cricketers as before every match he doesn’t eat duck as he considers it as bad luck for him.
6. If not cricketer: Beside cricket, he has keen interest in football. O’Brien once said that, if he wouldn’t have been a cricketer than he would have been playing on the right-hand side of the midfield for Everton Football club.
7. Controversies: O’Brien has been always surrounded with controversies and there was one occasion when he angered Brian Lara during a match against West Indies in 2004, which proved to be quite useful as they won that match. He was also the part of Indian Cricket League (ICL) and wasn’t banned. Infact, he became the first player to play international cricket after featuring in ICL.
8. Banned: Beside controversies, he is also known for his high temper and was once banned in 2006 from one International Cricket Council Intercontinental Cup after being found guilty. He used some offensive language to match referee David Jukes.
9. World Cup 2007: It was his crucial knock of 72 runs in the 2007 World Cup group stage match against Pakistan which helped his side in winning the match. Barring him, no other player could score more than 16 runs. Further in a super eight match against England, he played another good knock of 63 runs though they lost the match.
10. World Cup 2015: During the fifth match of World Cup 2015 between Ireland and West Indies, O’Brien’s knock of 79 runs from 60 balls was instrumental in winning the game for Ireland by six wickets.
(Abhishek Kumar is a cricket devotee currently staffing with CricketCountry.com. He can be followed at abhicricket.kumar and abhishekkr2593)