Niall O’Brien announces retirement

Niall O'Brien

Niall O’Brien, the Ireland wicket-keeper batsman, has announced his retirement from international and first-class cricket.

O’Brien, 36, played 134 internationals for Ireland, including in their maiden Test this year, and appeared for the national side a total of 216 times since his debut in a one-day game against Denmark in 2002.

Along with brother Kevin, he was an integral part of the Irish side that made a name for themselves as the giant slayers in global cricket and is their most successful wicket-keeper with 241 dismissals to his name.

He was a handy batsman as well, accumulating 9057 first-class and 5700 List A runs. He had a total of 19 centuries and 84 half-centuries. This included contributions for English county sides Kent, Northamptonshire and Leicestershire.

Most memorable were his 72 runs against Pakistan in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 when Ireland pulled off a historic upset on St Patrick’s Day. In fact, his jersey number in later years recalled this match-winning innings.

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“It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my retirement from international and professional cricket,” said O’Brien in a statement on Friday, 12 October. “I 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 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.”

Indicating an interest to work in the media, in coaching or as a sports agent, he added, “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 two years.”

Thanking his team-mates, coaches and Cricket Ireland, he said, “From playing relatively small fixtures at the start of my career to competing [in] 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.”

O’Brien is the second player from Ireland’s maiden Test squad to call it quits, after Ed Joyce bowed out.

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Graham Ford, Ireland head coach, said, “I first met Niall in 2005 when I coached Kent and he was a young member of the Kent squad. He immediately struck me as a fine example of what a professional cricketer should be.

“He can be well proud of what he has achieved on the field but he can be equally proud of how he has operated as a professional cricketer and the manner in which he has played the game.

“He was an extremely tough competitor and played it very, very hard. At the same time he always showed respect for the game and the opposition. After a tough day he was always happy to have a chat and a laugh with his teammates and the opposition.”