Kevin O'Brien had always had a smaller role behind his older brother Niall O'Brien.
And you wouldn't be wrong I thinking Niall was the more talented batsman within the Irish side.
Then many Irish cricketing fans would argue that Kevin never fully showed what he could do with the long handle, and that perhaps in my opinion he wasn't consistent enough.
In June 2006 he mad his ODI International debut in a game against the old enemy, against England in Belfast in the inaugural game of the World Cricket League. He took 1/47 and his only wicket came off his first delivery and he got the English captain Andrew Strauss. He also made 35 from 48 balls but still Ireland fell short that day by 38 runs. And to me this is what happens to a lot of cricketers, they get to a good start then they get out.
His second game was the real gem by Kevin as Ireland made 284 against Kenya and he scored 142 and that was the highest ever by an Irish batsman and was produced of just 128 balls with 10 fours and 6 sixes, finally the big man opened his shoulders and to me showed what he can do.
His biggest test was the 2007 Cricket World Cup, all his previous good knocks had been against non Test cricketing nations but his top score came in the super eight stage against New Zealand when he made 49, some would say his 48 runs scored against Bangladesh was his best knock of the World Cup and I would disagree. Ireland had restricted Pakistan to just 132 and Kevin came in when Ireland were 70/4 and a partnership was badly needed to see the side home and he added 38 runs with his brother Niall and to me that was the biggest test for Kevin, he showed when he was needed he could try and grind out a result and granted he only scored 15 from 50 balls but you got to realise the required run rate when he came in was at 2.42 and he knew balls faced wasn't the issue and he knew he needed to stay in and he did do that. Despite wickets falling around him he stayed strong and in the end him and Trent Johnston brought Ireland home.
So in January 2010 he was awarded a full time contract by Cricket Ireland and he was one of six players to be awarded this type of contract. Later that year Sri Lanka hosted Afghanistan, Canada and Ireland in a T20 league, also included was the Sri Lankan A team. And Kevin performed quite badly. He managed only 17 runs with the bat in three games and Ireland lost two games and you could say had Kevin scored more with the bat we could have won some of the games.
He was again selected for the 2011 World Cup squad and this was to be his tournament, and I think Kevin finally showed the World that he isn't a slogger and that he can bat. On the 2nd of March Ireland faced England and were left at 106/4 when in entered Kevin O'Brien and he produced one of the greatest knocks I've seen in cricket. He scored a century from 50 balls and in doing so outscored the previous record held by Matthew Hayden who has scored his from 66 balls. He finished the World Cup with 198 runs at an average of 39.60 and was Ireland's second highest run scorer in the tournament.
This to me was his moment he showed the World how good he could be now the trick was to do it on a more consistent basis.
Despite Ireland failing to qualify for the next stages of the World Cup. Kevin O'Briens future had changed forever. On his return he had attracted attention from Gloucestershire Cricket Club and he was given a contract in 2011. If Kevin wanted to become more known for his batting then this was his stage and despite not getting of to a good start getting only 3 runs from 4 balls in his first CB40 game.
He did show a superb knock in a T20 game against Middlesex, scoring 119 runs from 52 balls and that innings with his partner Hamish Marshall created the highest total in T20 cricket with a massive score of 254 and an opening partnership of 192 and set a new record for the partnership for any wicket in the T20 format. And in his T20 career for Gloucestershire he scored 365 runs from 14 matches and showed to be a key player for the County.
Kevin was starting to show his worth and that he is a clean striker of the ball and when he wasn't playing for his County, when he was on International duty the County didn't peform very well at all.
Kevin is still with the County side and has even been given the Captain role for Ireland in a recent game against Namibia and to me he is maturing as a cricketer and has many times over the years saved Ireland when they were in trouble. The only thing Irish cricket fans would like to see is a more consistent Kevin, and consistent is a word I used a lot during this article and it's trying to highlight the only problem we have with Kevin. With saying that he is still a top quality player and he is only 27 and that is still very young.
He has stated he has no intention ever of playing for England and people might read this and think well he's not good enough to play for England so there is no worries of him leaving. I think not as an Irish fan but as a fan of good cricket that he is good enough and over the years he will improve more and he has the kind of attitude that Ireland needs if we are to make the highest level in Test cricket and I'm glad to have him playing in the green of Ireland.
Hopefully Ireland will qualify for the 2015 World Cup and Kevin will be there and this time he will be there as a more senior player for Ireland and I hope he takes the opportunity that we all know he can take and be the player we all know he can be.
Thank you Kevin O'Brien for everything and for what will surely come in the future...