Ireland wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien ends 16-year-long professional career

Sport360 staff 19:16 13/10/2018
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Ireland keeper batsman Niall O'Brien.

Ireland wicketkeeper-batsman Niall O’Brien has announced his retirement following a 16-year playing career.

O’Brien first represented Ireland in 2002 and played 216 times for the national side, including their inaugural Test against Pakistan earlier this summer.

The 36-year-old also featured in 103 ODIs and 30 Twenty20s, while Ireland say he is their most successful gloveman with 241 dismissals to his name and their fourth highest run-scorer with 6,097 at 31.59.

The former Kent, Northamptonshire and Leicestershire player said: “It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my retirement from international and professional cricket.

“I have been blessed to have been lucky enough to have represented my country for 16 years with plenty more ups than downs and for this I look back with nothing but smiles and laughter.

“From playing relatively small fixtures at the start of my career to competing and winning World Cup matches to being there to play in our first Test match meant I have achieved more than I could have ever dreamt and for this I look back with nothing but fondness.”

O’Brien’s career highlight was arguably at the 2007 World Cup as his 72 lifted Ireland to a famous victory over Pakistan, which helped the minnows reach the Super 8 stage.

He also featured in the 2011 and 2015 editions and was a regular in all formats, alongside his younger brother Kevin, for more than a decade.

Ireland captain William Porterfield added: “Niall would have been involved when we only had a couple of games a year, and I’m sure he will sit back and reflect with great pride when he sees where he has helped get Ireland to.

“From his man of the match innings in the 2007 World Cup that helped put Ireland on the global map, to walking out in Ireland’s inaugural Test match. He can be immensely proud of that and everything else he achieved in his career and fully deserves all the plaudits.”

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Sport360 staff 10:55 13/10/2018
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England go 1-0 up in the series.

England’s tour of Sri Lanka got off to a false start on Wednesday due to rain – but they opened opened the floodgates early on in the second ODI.

Eoin Morgan raced to a half-century and more, but Lasith Malinga dragged the hosts back into the game after quickly taking the England captain and Moeen Ali’s wickets.

Adil Rashid (19no) added a late flourish after Joe Root (71) and Morgan (92) had done most of the damage. Malinga’s superb five-for, however, kept England in check as Sri Lanka look to chase down a target of 279.

But Sri Lanka were in all sorts of trouble almost immediately, as Chris Woakes and debutant Olly Stone combined with their seam to snare three wickets inside the first seven overs.

Despite teetering at one stage on 74-5, the hosts finally struck gold with the partnership of Dhananjaya de Silva and Kusal Perera, as the pair closed in on their half-centuries.

As it was, the elements snuffed out Sri Lanka’s chances, with a heavy downpour bringing a 31-run victory via the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method.

Follow the Sri Lankan reply below.

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West Indies cricket is 'missing' vital ingredient, according to great Brian Lara

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Heading to the UAE: Brian Lara

Brian Lara feels the West Indies are “missing” a key ingredient to become a stronger and more competitive nation in all formats of cricket, particularly Tests, but he insists it is down to the players and support staff to find out exactly what that is.

The legendary left-hander, who is widely considered as one of the best batsman to have graced the game, follows the fortunes of his beloved Caribbean team closely and was fixed at his TV set, in the UAE, watching day one of the second match against India unfold.

While he was suitably impressed with Roston Chase’s 98 not out and plenty more resolve from the Windies batting line-up in their first innings – a far cry from their humbling opening Test defeat – Lara insists more needs to be done to maximise what he acknowledges is plenty of talent in the ranks.

Speaking to Sport360 at the launch of the GEMS Heritage Cricket Cup, in which he was one of the star-studded guests, at the the GEMS Heritage Indian School in Dubai, the 49-year-old said: “What I sense is there’s something missing (with this team) and it shouldn’t be difficult to find because the talent is there.

“The guys have the ability to play good cricket but they are missing something. Is it that mental edge? The coaches? The plan moving forward? Each individual needs to understand what their abilities are and they’ve got to have that drive and passion to be the best.”

“Ultimately, it’s all down to the staff and planning to get the best out of the group,” Lara said of his nation, who have struggled to qualify for the ICC 2019 World Cup and languish eighth, ninth and seventh in the current Test, ODI and T20 international rankings, respectively.

Since retiring from the game in 2007, the Trinidad-born star has been busy enjoying life after cricket and hasn’t been directly involved with the West Indies Cricket Board in a coaching capacity, though he did have a role as mentor-coach for Kerala Kings during last year’s inaugural T10 League competition in the Emirates.

While he did not declare any such plans to join the Windies coaching ranks in the near future, Lara – a veteran of 131 Tests and 299 ODIs – does believe he could help talented players from the Caribbean islands flourish, particularly with the mental side of the game.

“You don’t get to play international cricket just by fluke but to stay at that level and raise it further, it comes down to your mentality and how strong you are mentally,” he said.

“You’ve got to be prepared to work really hard and grind things out.

“I’d really love to get more involved with that side of the game and help players.”

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