Kevin completes family album
The blond hair dyed pink in patches, and well built with strong forearms, he sat with mild bewilderment, looking like someone from outer space as cameras clicked away and a horde of television cameras focused on him.
Kevin O'Brien was as much in shock as the rest of the cricket world after blazing to the fastest World Cup century to upstage England.
On Wednesday night, Kevin batted like he was in a tearing hurry to finish things off, not for a moment willing to contemplate that the target could be too far away for his unfancied team against the strong England.
Until he smashed a whirlwind 113 from 63 deliveries, Kevin was better known as the younger brother of Ireland wicketkeeper-batsman Niall, who was the Man of the Match in the famous upset win over Pakistan in 2007.
After he had smashed 13 fours and six sixes, repeatedly lofting into the vacant areas in the field, it was only natural that Kevin’s mind went back to the time when the O'Brien boys played their own brand of cricket in their backyard. Back then lofted shots meant the batsman was out.
Although Kevin has not done poorly at all with the Ireland team, he has had to jockey for attention in a sporting family. His father played 52 one-day games and captained Ireland before they were granted ODI status.
His sister Ciara was Ireland's most capped hockey player at one point. Kevin has also played hockey at club level and his girlfriend Outh-Anne Kilty is also a hockey player.
Kevin had a pretty good World Cup four years back as well. He bowled a wicket-maiden in the match against Zimbabwe, when the Africans needed 12 from two overs with three wickets standing, to force a tie. He shared a crucial 40-run seventh-wicket stand with brother Niall, three years elder to him, against Pakistan and finished the chase unbeaten.
The 50-ball hundred, however, overshadows all those deeds. “My parents in the stands and a few million watching the game back home, it can't get any bigger,” he said. “Ireland beating England in any game is huge.”
The most striking aspect of Kevin's onslaught was his attitude. Unafraid to hit, partly because he had nothing to lose when he came in, he struck the ball with ferocious power.
“You can't write anybody off in a one-day game because strange things can happen. The wicket was flat, ground small, outfield quick. And I backed my ability to hit through the line. I stayed positive and tried to score quickly. With about 90 to get from 12 overs, and England bowling at least one four-ball every over, I started believing we could make it,” Kevin said.
And England captain Andrew Strauss will only remember him too well. Until Wednesday, Strauss was merely Kevin's first ODI victim. And after his knock, it will take a while before the fresh scars of Strauss disappear.