Kevin O’Brien pulled a surprise at the start of the InterPro T20 festival at Sydney Parade yesterday by announcing his retirement from one-day internationals.
The most-capped Ireland player, the holder of the fastest World Cup century – his 50-ball tour de force against England in 2011 – and arguably the best all-rounder to pull on a green jersey, will in future concentrate on T20s.
One of the first names on the team-sheet since his debut against Sussex in 2006, O’Brien had been dropped from the 50-overs team for the first time against Afghanistan in January, and made a duck on his recall in the Netherlands earlier this month.
As if to underline his struggle for runs and the wisdom of what must have been the toughest of decisions, the 37-year-old was out for two as Leinster Lightning started the three-day festival with a comfortable seven-wicket victory over Munster Reds.
“I feel now is the right time to step away,” O’Brien said. “It has been an honour to represent my country in 153 ODIs and the memories from those games will last a lifetime.
“But I don’t feel I can contribute as much as I have in the past. My hunger and love for the 50-overs format is no longer the same as it was and it wouldn’t be fair to the team and our supporters to continue while I’m no longer feeling at 100pc.
“I’ve had some unbelievable moments with the team – the three World Cups, the personal successes and spending time travelling all over the world, but I will now shift my focus and remain fully committed to T20 cricket.”
Along with his match-winning 113 against England in Bangalore, the Railway Union stalwart is also Ireland’s only Test match centurion and has 114 ODI wickets and 68 catches, both records for his country, in addition to 3,618 runs.
Is he the GOAT – the greatest of all time? Not as stylish as Ed Joyce, for sure, or as successful as Eoin Morgan or as prolific in recent times as Paul Stirling, who is proving to be the best of that wonderful batting triumvirate.
Perhaps not having the same impact as Trent Johnston either, but what a breadth of work: in the middle for the breakthrough win against Pakistan, the main man four years later in Bangalore, and one of only 14 players with international centuries in all three formats.
Although he spoke yesterday of playing on for 18 months, O’Brien will likely take his Ireland bow at the T20 World Cup in Australia this autumn as he looks to spend more time with his young family and developing his cricketing academy in Dublin.