23 September 2012 - 03:25pm IST
by R Kaushik in Colombo
Niall O’Brien is the engine room of the Ireland team, a small but loud presence behind the stumps and a crafty left-hand batsman who has played eight years of first-class cricket, mostly for Northamptonshire.
The older of the O’Brien brothers was one of the few Irish batsmen to make runs against Australia, associating himself in a half-centurystand with younger sibling Kevin. He will again have to bring all his experience into play when Ireland plays the West Indies in a must-win game in the ICC World Twenty20 2012 on Monday, but if he is feeling the pressure, O’Brien sure is not showing it."
Oh well, if the skipper needs me to bowl, I will come on and do the job,” laughed O’Brien as he spoke of the dangers Chris Gayle brings with him. “But hopefully, the main bowlers can take his scalp early. It’s just one of those things, he is obviously a fine player but he is human and he can make mistakes. We just need to make sure we take our chance whenever it comes.”
O’Brien showcased the famed Irish spirit as he sought to downplay the stomach bug that has swept through the camp, hampering its preparations for the big game. “The preparation is not ideal whatsoever but it has happened before and from a personal point of view, I have been sick,” said O’Brien. “Sometimes, you find an inner resolve and that’s something that (coach) Phil (Simmons) will be trying to stress upon. The boys have been a bit sick but it’s Twenty20 and there is a lot of adrenaline and they will overcome any illness in the camp.”
Disappointment at being routed by Australia last Wednesday made way for delight on Saturday when Australia defeated the West Indies to keep Ireland’s hopes alive. “Yes, we were cheering big time for Australia last night,” revealed O’brien. “(Shane) Watson and (David) Warner, they weren't the most popular in the Irish camp a few days ago but they played really well last night. It was a great result for us,it gave us a little bit of a pick-me-up if we needed it before tomorrow’s game but winner takes it all and the West Indies are going to feel a little bit of pressure also.
“We were all disappointed with the way we played against Australia, we thought we could have played a lot better,” added O’Brien. “We may not have felt we deserved to win the game but we certainly could have played a lot better but I think the boys are up for it, to get amongst the big crowd tomorrow. Hopefully there is going to be a big crowd for the game and we just need to pick it up by 15-20 percent and hopefully that will be good enough for a win.”
William Porterfield, the skipper, is under scrutiny after a first-ball duck in the previous game, pulling Watson to long-leg. O’Brien wasasked whether he would be opening the batting alongside Paul Stirling on Monday, given that he and Stirling have been the first ones out at nets for the last few days. “I don’t know. Certainly I haven’t been told anything like that. If that’s the case, I am more than happy to do it, I’d love to open the batting,” said O’Brien, but quickly threw his lot behind his captain. “But you know William and the fighter he is. He will be hoping to go out and he will be hoping for a bouncer first ball and he will probably put it in the stands for six.”