Northantscricket.com caught up with Niall O’Brien following his recent career best first class innings score, to talk about how the season has gone and his thoughts ahead of representing Ireland at the upcoming World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka later this month.
Niall O’Brien is the first one to admit it has been a stop-start summer for him due to the weather and by his own admission form. But luckily for him, Northants and Ireland, he has rediscovered that form and hopes it will continue into the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka. O’Brien says he can’t wait to get over there and for the tournament to start, “I’m looking forward to getting away and playing in Sri Lanka, I’ve enjoyed it there before and the people of Colombo especially are very, very kind. And I’m sure the Irish support are going to travel in force as well.”
Due to the growth in Irish cricket having long training camps before major tournaments are becoming a thing of the past. O’Brien says due to playing commitments for the majority of the squad, they will only have 4 or 5 days in training camp before they play friendlies against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. O’Brien thinks that despite the team normally having 2 or 3 weeks together, they still have enough time to prepare, especially with some of the players hitting form. O’Brien picked out Ed Joyce and William Porterfield as two of Ireland’s key players, who are in form at the moment.
Turning to Ireland’s group, O’Brien acknowledges there are no easy games at a World Cup, but he is confident that the team can do well and even cause a surprise. Niall says he feels that Australia are there for the taking due to their lack of spin options, which he sees as vital in Sri Lanka. “In Sri Lanka, spin bowling is the key and they haven’t really got that much spin, although they have the evergreen Brad Hogg who’s going to be quite key for them.” So the Irish team will be looking to cause an early tournament surprise against the Aussies. The wicketkeeper see’s Ireland’s other group opponents West Indies as one of the favourites for the whole tournament, due to their abundance of stars. But he feels due to their, at times, temperamental nature and Ireland’s West Indian coach Phil Simmons, who he hopes will have some good information for the team; they will have a shot and really challenge the favourites.
The attacking batsman will be hoping he can continue the form that led him to his highest first class innings score against Glamorgan a couple of weeks ago. After a stop-start summer for him, O’Brien was delighted to have the opportunity to be back in the first team and even more delighted that he was able to capitalize on the opportunity on a tough pitch. “I think professional sports is all about taking opportunities, the wicket wasn’t conducive for free flowing stroke play as I would normally like and I’m sure the Northampton faithful have seen me play a more fluid innings and a more exciting innings but I think it was valuable nonetheless.” Northants will be hoping he builds on that career best innings, whilst Ireland hope the form carries all the way to Sri Lanka for the World Twenty20.