Cricket: O'Brien 200 not out as new faces step up
KEVIN O'BRIEN will become the third player to win 200 Ireland caps when he strides out at Castle Avenue today to take on Scotland in a four-day InterContinental Cup match.
The Railway Union all-rounder has reached the mark in the fastest time – it's only seven years since he made his debut as a 22-year-old against Sussex at the same Clontarf venue in 2006.
Alongside O'Brien will be a fellow member of the 200 club, Andrew White, as he closes to within one of Kyle McCallan's record of 226 caps.
O'Brien has regularly captained Ireland in the IC Cup but won't have to stand in for William Porterfield this time as the skipper is available and keen to cast his eye over the fringe players in a young squad.
"We've got a few new faces coming in and that's exciting," Porterfield said. "Graeme McCarter and Craig Young are two of the next generation of seam bowlers. I'm looking forward to seeing what they've got to offer.
"Also, there will be another chance for Stuart Thompson, who bowled really well against Scotland on Sunday, and Eddie Richardson, who already looks to have improved after just two games in the senior side.
"When you are looking to replace Trent Johnston and Boyd Rankin, it's important to have young bowlers like that knocking on the door. There are opportunities for someone to grab a place and play in the World Cup and other big tournaments."
The IC Cup is one such tournament that holds a special place in Irish hearts – they won it three times between 2005 and '08, and made this year's final with a game to spare.
If Ireland avoid defeat over the next four days, they will meet holders Afghanistan for the title in Dubai in December, but a win for the visitors would leave Scotland an outside chance of qualifying themselves.
Ireland squad – W Porterfield (capt), J Anderson, A Balbirnie, C Dougherty, A McBrine, G McCarter, K O'Brien, S Poynter, E Richardson, M Sorensen, P Stirling, S Thompson, A White, C Young.