DUBLIN: Niall O’Brien, one of the pillars of Irish cricket in their rise to Test status over the last 15 years, has announced his retirement from the game. O’Brien follows his team-mate Ed Joyce in deciding to call time shortly after playing in Ireland’s inaugural Test, against Pakistan at Malahide in May.
A talkative wicket keeper and feisty batsman, O’Brien, 36, made his final international appearances during the ODI series with Afghanistan in August. He played in three World Cups for Ireland, memorably paving the way for their famous triumph over Pakistan at the 2007 tournament with 72 in a three-wicket win at Sabina Park.
“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 team-mates who along the way have helped me become the player I was. I 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.
As well as his role in the upset of Pakistan, he was part of the teams that beat England in Bangalore at the 2011 World Cup – thanks to Kevin O’Brien’s record-breaking hundred – and West Indies in 2015, victories over Full Member nations that boosted Ireland’s case for Test status, finally granted last year.
O’Brien also spent several years on the county circuit in England, representing Kent, Northamptonshire and Leicestershire. He returned to play in Ireland’s interprovincial tournaments in 2017, and plans to try his hand at coaching and media work post-retirement.