Belfast Telegraph

Ireland cricket star Kevin O'Brien in line for bumper treat on birthday

By David Clough

Kevin O’Brien could be in line for a bumper 27th birthday bonanza today with the prospect of signing a lucrative contract to play in the multi-million dollar Indian Premier League.

The richest tournament in cricket thrives on just the sort of big hitting that O'Brien showcased in Bangalore on Wednesday when he smashed the fastest World Cup century of all time.

Watched by an estimated TV audience of one billion on the cricket-mad Indian sub-continent, the Dubliner stunned England with six sixes and 13 fours to reach his 100 off only 50 balls.

The IPL franchises pay big money for those sort of box office skills in Twenty20 games and a deal worth $500,000 would be the least he might expect.

Fellow Dubliner Eoin Morgan was the only Irish player to earn an IPL contract in the last auction and, almost unknown to Indian audiences, he was snapped up for $350,000 by the Kolkata Knight Riders.

Asked whether he would be interested in playing in the annual event, big hitter O'Brien said: “A lot of people have said Twenty20 suits me, it's my kind of game — get in and swing the bat and hit a few sixes.

“So if something comes of that [the IPL] even better — if not I'll just concentrate on Sunday's game and see what happens after that.”

O'Brien's ability to hit a long ball — he claimed the World Cup's biggest blow with a 102 metre six on Wednesday — has already attracted the attention of the English counties.

The Railway Union all-rounder has trialled for Nottinghamshire in the shortest form of the game but the money on offer in England is only a fraction of the IPL riches.

The biggest names in cricket — Shane Warne, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Jacques Kallis — are paid millions of dollars to represent IPL franchises across India.

The competition lasts for five weeks in April and May — and the good news for Ireland is that it shouldn't clash with any international matches in the fixtures calendar.

Belfast Telegraph


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