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Cricket: O'Brien 'no' to England

Ireland's World Cup batting sensation Kevin O'Brien has been tipped to receive some lucrative offers but a switch to the England team looks unlikely, say his closest friends in cricket.

O'Brien, 27 yesterday, battered England's bowlers to score 113 off just 63 balls, recording the fastest century in World Cup history on the way to help the Irish to 329-7 and a tournament record run chase on Wednesday.

The relative anonymity he was once used to has gone.

"I am sure his options will be endless, with county cricket, the Indian Premier League (next year) and other one-day events around the world," said Wayne Noon, who coached O'Brien in his one season of English cricket at Nottinghamshire in 2009. "He will be able to name his price."


His century was registered in just 50 balls -- 16 fewer than the previous record held by Australia's Matthew Hayden. He bludgeoned Ireland to victory with six sixes after they looked beaten at 111-5.

That kind of hitting prowess is likely to attract the attention of English county teams. But the possibility of him switching to the England national team, like compatriots Ed Joyce and Eoin Morgan, seems unlikely because of the four-year qualification period needed.

"I couldn't see him playing for England but that's not through ability, just because he is a very proud Irishman," Noon added.


Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom said that although O'Brien may appeal to the England selectors now, he questioned if that would still be the case when he is 31

"If he attracts attention from the counties I would not stand in his way as we can't compete with them (financially), though I would hope to have a discussion about it," said Deutrom. "Our issue would be if we are going to lose him to England. We know he has the talent to do it but I am sure he will have many other attractive offers."

Adrian Birrell, Ireland coach for five years until the 2007 World Cup, worked with O'Brien on a daily basis from U19 level.

He said: "For him to score a hundred in 50 balls ... is just phenomenal. That innings wasn't a one-off -- he has genuine ability to hit balls over a boundary."