Niall O’Brien, the Ireland wicketkeeper-batsman, brought down curtains on his career across formats on Friday (October 12). One of the best players to have donned the Irish jersey, O’Brien served Ireland for 16 years with utmost aplomb.
He retires as Ireland’s most successful wicketkeeper with 241 international dismissals. The left-handed batsman, who was a part of the team that recorded some iconic wins like the ones against Pakistan and England in the World Cup, also played in Ireland’s historic maiden Test against Pakistan earlier in the year.
MUST READ – BCCI Gives Injury Update On Shardul Thakur
He also finished his career as the fourth highest run-scorer for Ireland with 6,097 runs at an average of 31.59. The southpaw scored eight centuries and 33 half-centuries, while his highest score of 176 against United Arab Emirates in 2005 was almost eclipsed three years later when he hit 174 against the same opposition.
“It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my retirement from international and professional cricket,” he said. “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.
“I would like to thank all my coaches and teammates who along the way have helped me become the player I was. Have had too many coaches to mention them all but a special thanks must go to Adrian “Adi” Birrell who took a chance on me in 2002 and who arranged a trial at Kent from where I started my 14-year county career which was an absolute privilege and an honour.”
“I always tried to play with a smile on my face and with an enjoyment that I think all people could see whether watching from the stands, standing with me in the field or coming up against me for the opposition. Hard work was always behind my performance and I will take this same ethos into the next phase of my career where I have been working in the Sports Agency business for the last 2 years alongside my playing commitments and will continue to pursue this avenue.
“I have always had a keen interest in working within the media and I am extremely keen to gain more opportunities moving forward and with Ireland having more exposure on the global stage I am hopeful to be working on plenty of Ireland games in the near future. I will also be looking to put my Level 3 coaching badge to good use and hope to work with some of the next generation moving forward.
“To all at Cricket Ireland a sincere thank you for allowing me to wear the shamrock for 16 years. There are too many fond memories to mention so I just wish the team and the organisation all the very best for the future and I will be watching keenly from afar. 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,” he said.
One of the finest moments of his career came in the 2007 World Cup when he led Ireland to an unexpected win over Pakistan. O’Brien scored 72 as and earned the man of the match award as Ireland dumped Pakistan out of the competition. A couple of years later, he was nominated for the 2009 Associate and Affiliate Player of the Year.
In the same year, he set a World Twenty20 record with his 4 dismissals against Sri Lanka in the Super 8 stage of the 2009 ICC World T20. Two years later, he became the third player to score 1,000 ODI runs for Ireland after William Porterfield and his brother Kevin.
In 2015 World Cup, his unbeaten 79 runs off 60 balls helped Ireland beat another Test match playing nations, the West Indies.