MUSCAT – Until yesterday, only 13 cricketers in the world had hit an international century in all three formats of the game. Now it is 14, with Ireland’s Kevin O’Brien adding his name to that list. O’Brien’s scintillating century against Hong Kong was also not only his first T20 International ton, but the first-ever for Ireland too.
O’Brien has had a busy year – not only has he played 30 times for Ireland across all three formats of the game, but domestically he has featured in a double-trophy winning Leinster Lightning side in the Test Triangle Inter-Provincial Series, and his club side won the Clear Currency National Cup for the first time last month.
Cap number 655 for Ireland, O’Brien first appeared in the green on 11 June 2006 in a List A match against Sussex. Now, just over 13 years later, the Dublin-born all-rounder is approaching his 350th appearance for Ireland (currently 349). Along the way he has collected a number of records, including fastest century in the Cricket World Cup (2011), first Test century for Ireland (2018) and now first T20I century for Ireland (2019).
Routinely reinventing his game, he has only this year been elevated to the opening role in T20I this year and the move has seen him flourish. In 2019, O’Brien has scored 583 runs from an incredible 353 balls in 14 innings, an average of 41.64 and a strike rate of 165.16. This is currently the fourth highest number of runs in a calendar year in T20I cricket history, and he still has potentially eight to ten more matches to play before the end of the calendar year.
Speaking from his hotel in Muscat on a rare day off of late from playing or training, O’Brien said:
“It’s obviously a very proud moment to score the first T20I century for Ireland. I’m very happy with the way it’s turning out since moving to the top of the order, and hopefully the form can continue for the next 2 to 3 weeks leading into the World Cup Qualifier.”
“The squad is progressing nicely and, despite a little setback against Oman, all-in-all we’re playing some good cricket. We’re putting up some good totals, we’re fielding very well in most games, and we’re starting to improve slowly with the ball. We’ve still got three games before the first Qualifier match in Abu Dhabi, so if we can continue this trend we’ll be in a good position. Fingers crossed we can use the next three games as good preparation and look to win all three – they’ll be three tough games so we’ll have to play well.”