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'I put myself in at a slightly lesser value in the hope someone will pick you up as a bargain buy'

Kevin O’Brien joined us during the week to discuss his travels around the world as a gun-for-hire Twenty20 batsman.

ARGUABLY IRELAND’S MOST recognisable cricketer, Kevin O’Brien’s skillset continues to be a valuable commodity on the global stage as he prepares to play in his third different Twenty20 franchise league this year.

O’Brien will head off to the cricketing-mad nation of Nepal in the coming days for the Everest T20 League after being snapped up by the Kathmandu Kings XI in the player auction. 

Kevin O'Brien Kevin O'Brien in action for Ireland. Source: Rowland White/INPHO

The three-week tournament will round off a busy 2018 for the 34-year-old, who also had stints in Canada and the Afghan Premier League as well as making history by becoming Ireland’s first Test centurion back in May.

Since his record-breaking century against England at the 2011 World Cup, O’Brien has been sought-after by clubs and franchises around the world, as his ability as a powerful and explosive batsman and medium-pace bowler makes the Dubliner a useful asset as an international recruit.

The deal to play in Nepal was brokered by O’Brien’s agent — elder brother Niall, who recently called time on his own international career — and in conversation with The42 this week, explained how the process of securing overseas contracts works.

“First and foremost I’m contracted to Cricket Ireland so I can only really play in these tournaments if there’s no Irish games happening at the same time,” he explained.

“I’ve been fortunate enough over the last six or seven years to gain certain contracts around the world when there has been gaps in the Irish schedule. 

You put your name in the hat, you express your interest. Most of the tournaments are on a draft basis, so you put yourself in at a certain category of price or certain round number you want to get picked up in. 

“It’s luck of the draw, really. You have to be in the minds of the team owners and the team captains when the draft takes place and hopefully your previous experience over the last few years, whether it be for Ireland or in another franchise league, that the owners or captains were there and they take notice.”

O’Brien has been a trailblazer for Irish cricket having featured alongside some of the game’s biggest names in lucrative tournaments, and even though the national team’s fortunes in the Twenty20 format continue to spiral downwards, Paul Stirling has also been picked up by franchises.

The opening batsman will play for the Chitwan Tigers in Nepal, and O’Brien looks back on his performance against England in Bangalore as the key moment for him as it allowed him to break onto the circuit in England and then Bangladesh. 

“Most of the cricketing world know what I can do with a cricket bat, and with the ball and in the field,” he continued. “My skillset has been pretty consistent over the last seven or eight years.


“Having played in a few of the tournaments around the world, a lot of similar players play so it’s all about building friendships and if you’ve played under one captain in one tournament and he’s involved in another you just try and drop him a quick message and say ‘listen, I’m in at this price, consider me when my name comes up.’

“Fortunately I’ve been lucky to get a couple of contracts overseas. Over the last couple of years I’ve probably gone in at slightly lesser category than I would have maybe in 2013/2014.

“First couple of years I went in at a low value just to get involved in the system and onto the circuit and then you push your price up the more successful you are.

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“It’s probably now that I’m not in the limelight as much, I put myself in at a slightly lesser value in the hope someone will pick you up as a bargain buy.

“I’m very lucky Cricket Ireland can afford me the time to go and very fortunate a lot of the tournaments have taken place when there hasn’t been Irish games.”

In a wide-ranging interview, O’Brien reflects on the year as a whole, one he describes as ‘disappointing’ from an Irish point of view as Graham Ford’s side missed out on qualification for next year’s World Cup in England.

You can watch the full interview below: 

Source: The42.ie/YouTube

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Ryan Bailey

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