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Dublin: 15 °C Friday 7 August, 2020

'I closed my eyes to try and get some energy back. I'd never batted for over five hours before'

Kevin O’Brien looks back on his historic Test century against Pakistan.

IT MAY NOT be deemed worthy enough for an end-of-year awards nomination, but as far as defining Irish sporting moments go, Kevin O’Brien’s historic Test century is worthy of being placed on any pedestal. 

The significance of O’Brien’s achievement cannot be understated, as he wrote another glorious chapter in his own and indeed Ireland’s cricketing history on a sunny May afternoon in Malahide.   

gettyimages-958502284-594x594 O'Brien celebrates his century against Pakistan. Source: Sportsfile

By becoming Ireland’s first Test centurion, this was another unforgettable moment and feat for O’Brien and his family, having played such an integral role in the sport’s growth in this country and the team’s ascension to Test playing status.

Following on from his record-breaking century against England in the 2011 World Cup, O’Brien firmly put to bed any suggestion he was simply a pinch-hitting batsman, with an unwavering display of skill, concentration and experience against Pakistan.

O’Brien not only batted for a heroic five hours and 40 minutes, accumulating 118 runs, but his innings altered the complexion of the game, engendering hope that Ireland could pull off a truly remarkable victory in their inaugural Test match. 

While it wasn’t to be for Graham Ford’s side, the sight of O’Brien running two off Pakistan left-arm seamer Mohammad Amir, leisurely strolling back for the second with his arms aloft before lapping up the applause from all four corners of the ground, will live long in the memory. 

“Just very proud and what makes it even better was having Mum and Dad there, and my wife Ruth-Anne,” he told The42.

“Immensely proud week for me personally and my family, it’s something that can’t be taken away and hopefully when Cricket Ireland get that honours board I’ll be there to unveil it as first centurion.”

Looking back on his innings, O’Brien can remember most of it vividly — largely because of the wide range of emotions he went through from nervousness when he edged closer to three figures and then pure exhaustion as the day took its toll, both physically and mentally.

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“I’ve watched little bits of it,” he continued. “Probably last week, just lying in bed just trying to drift off and you Google ‘Ireland versus Pakistan’ and up it comes.


“I haven’t watched much of it, it’s something that I’ll save for when I retire. I’ll sit back and put on the DVD.

“I remember pretty much all of it. I could probably explain my first scoring shot, how I got to 50 and the nerves I felt in the 90s and on 99.

“I remember towards the end of the day I was absolutely shattered. I was at the non-striker’s end and kept kneeling down and just closing my eyes trying to get some energy back. I’d never batted for over five hours before so mentally more so than physically, I was just absolutely gone.”

And which century did he prefer? Bangalore or Malahide?

“They’re two completely different innings,” O’Brien smiles. “Probably still the England game because we won it, but also a Test hundred is special, not many people get them. Probably just the Bangalore game because of where it was [World Cup] and who it was against.”  

Catch the full interview with Kevin O’Brien on The42 this weekend 

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Ryan Bailey

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