Thursday, 3 August 2017

A Natter with Nobby

Niall O'Brien has been a driving force behind the success of Irish cricket in recent years. Having been just awarded Test status, the ex Kent, Northants and Leicestershire gloveman spent a few days recently at my club and was an absolute gent. With his Dublin brogue and happy character, he charmed all and sundry and even gave us an interview. Now contracted to Cricket Ireland he has been great for the game and his country in general. Here we discuss why he wanted Surrey to win certain games, what it is like to compete at a World Cup and meeting his hero Jack Russell on debut. Read on for our chat with the man nicknamed Nobby...


TMS: Niall, star of Irish cricket, been through a few World Cups, loved by those at Kent, Northants and Leicestershire, it must be a huge privilege to be interviewed by The Middle Stump?

NOB: Haha. Yeah. Well I've spent a long time at the crease but I'm still hanging in there. I've been very privileged to have a long career and now Test cricket dawns on us.

TMS: What does it mean to you that Ireland have been granted Test status?

NOB: I grew up dreaming of Test cricket. I watched it on the BBC and always thought I would love to play Test cricket. I played it in the garden with Kevin so it is a lifelong dream. It shows how far the game has come in recent years in Ireland and that is a credit to the Cricket Union.

TMS: Let's get down to business, who is the tightest team mate?

NOB: Rob White without a shadow of a doubt. He's a lovely bloke but would dash to the loo when it was his round, or forget his wallet on a night out. He's a tight one.


Peters...another toilet might be needed here!

TMS: Most hot headed when out cheaply?

NOB: Err that would probably be me. Definitely as a youth. Steve Peters at Northants would be up there. I remember David Masters getting him out regularly and one year he broke a toilet. He had to go to the Chief Executive and apologise saying, "We need a new toilet"!

TMS: Best sledge?

NOB: Maybe not the best but Shane Warne threw me once by calling me Peanut. I was standing up and having a craic and he just said "Shut up Peanut". It threw me for ages as I couldn't work it out.

TMS: Quickest faced?

NOB: Shaun Tait. First ball I faced him I didn't see it. Tait was hard to pick up. Shoaib Akhtar was up there too but more slingy and easier to see out of the hand, but Tait was nasty too. Yeah Shaun Tait for me.

TMS: Best lunches on the circuit?

NOB: Lord's is always good but I liked the Oval. There is a West Indian lady there called Precious who did some great stuff - jerk chicken and the like. It was superb. Also at Surrey a few years back, they had this thing where if they won the previous week they would get a dessert as a reward. If you had them to play the following week, you'd be cheering them on knowing you'd get a top dessert.

TMS: Favourite ground?

NOB: Trent Bridge. Ireland were based there in the 2009 T20 World Cup and we beat Bangladesh. Nottingham is a great place to go out in, good bars and always the clinking of glasses. Good people there.

TMS: Let's talk keeping, how important is it for a keeper to chirp?

NOB: Pivotal. You need banter and a presence on the pitch. A keeper can lead a team and winds players up to perform better. Don't chirp the wrong people though!


Russell...quality standing up to the stumps

TMS: Who were your favourite keepers?

NOB: Ian Healy was great especially watching him stand up to the turning ball. Jack Russell was absolute class. He was superb in One Day cricket and made the team 10-15% better by standing up to most bowlers and not allowing the batsman to leave his crease. That would keep them pinned back. He is a class bloke too. I made my First Class debut versus Gloucestershire when I was at Kent and it rained for two days. We talked a lot and for a young keeper it was a great education. He even sent me some keeping gloves afterwards. A legend of a man.

TMS: You had a bit of a row with Brian Lara. Do you swap Christmas cards these days?

NOB: Ha. No but I have his number. He is a lovely bloke actually. What happened was I thought he nicked one, he didn't and the skipper teed me up to have a go. I was young and the fact is Lara got 120 in that game and I got 2. I got given by the umpire caught behind and walked off past Lara at square leg. He said, "Didn't you nick yours either?" Haha.

TMS: What is being in a World Cup like?

NOB: Simply, a lot of fun. You want to be there, you want to show people what you can do and play against the best. Coming up against the likes of Chris Gayle, you want to show them that you can play and that Ireland can play. With Ireland we were never under massive pressure so we enjoyed it. Plus you stay in 5 star hotels and travel Business Class! We stayed in Coogee Beach in Sydney and our camp was brilliant. Great bars, best beaches and we loved it.

TMS: What do you think of Melanoma UK and the work that they do educating cricketers who are exposed to prolonged periods of sunshine?

NOB: They are fantastic and the work they are doing is great. As a cricketer you are out there a lot. I played in Sydney at 17/18 and have now learned how important it is to put a lot of cream on. Any awareness can only be a positive.


Joe Clarke...bright future

TMS: Finally, best three youngsters coming through?

NOB: Jack Tector for Ireland. He is a good cricketer with a big future. Sam Curran who is there and thereabouts and Joe Clarke at Worcestershire who I think will go a long, long way in the game.

TMS: Niall, you;ve been an absolute star. Thank you very much.

NOB: A pleasure.


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