Wednesday 21 March 2018

'We lost games like this in the past - now there's a belief we'll win'

Cricket World Cup Diary

Kevin O'Brien of Ireland bats during the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup match between Ireland and the United Arab Emirates
Kevin O'Brien of Ireland bats during the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup match between Ireland and the United Arab Emirates

Niall O'Brien

WE need to talk about Kevin - again. Well, not just my brother Kevin obviously, but hitting 50 off 25 balls changed the momentum of the game and, along with Gary Wilson, they turned an awkward situation into a win.

We know there's room for improvement but we have time to work on that between now and the next game against South Africa, and any win you produce when you've been staring defeat in the face is a good one.

I've been around a long time and we lost several of these type of games in the past where you come back into the dressing-room after the game and you wonder how you let it get away from you.

It's great to be in a squad like this where there's a belief that we're going to get over the line no matter what the situation.

It wasn't our best day, but four points from four isn't to be sniffed at.

We certainly don't make it easy for ourselves, or for any of our supporters watching, but it'd be boring if we just rattled off the runs without a bit of drama thrown into the mix!

Gary's innings was superb and it's a result of the hard work he's been putting in in the nets to get himself in nick. Those sort of innings don't just happen by accident and he deserved his runs and man of the match award for that effort.

The brother did what he does but he didn't just swing wildly at everything that came his way. Gary and Andy Balbirnie had steadied the ship a bit when Kev arrived but he knew that we needed to put our foot down, and there's no better man for that.

When you're in the situation that you're behind the run rate, the most important thing is not to panic and give your wicket away because that just increases the pressure on the guy who is coming after you.

It sounds so simple to say but, even though it wasn't our best performance as I've said, we put that calmness into practice. We've seen already in this tournament how many runs teams can get in the last 10-15 over so you have to keep yourself in the game to get to that point.

The UAE got more runs than we would have liked in that period but we knew we were capable of doing the same thing.

We lost plenty of those tricky, tight games over the years but all of us have got a few runs in the first two games so it gives you the confidence that the game is never over.

Fitness played a huge part as well because we could see a few of their guys struggling with cramp towards the finish and I think that was a crucial difference between the two teams.

Gary went down at one stage but Kev's approach of smacking boundaries is a good way to avoid cramping because you don't have to run much when the ball is flying over the fence!

He hit 44 of his 50 runs in boundaries, which is some going.

I was disappointed myself to get out because I felt I was playing well but I just picked the wrong length to play that shot. It wasn't the best of reviews either and it took forever to be confirmed but I knew the writing was on the wall from the first time I saw the replay.

We were in a bit of bother at that stage but, with this group, there's almost always somebody who sticks their hand up to drive us over the line and that's what good teams do.

We've another few days before the South Africa game which is going to be huge for us but our plan is to enjoy the night in Brisbane tonight before getting our minds right for what will be a massive task against them.

The phone has been hopping with messages of support from home and elsewhere and everyone in the squad is grateful for it.

There was a big Irish contingent in the Gabba and all around Brisbane so we'll head out tonight and join in some celebrations with them.

After a win like that, it'd be rude not to.

Irish Independent

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