Niall O'Brien: 'We believe we can beat Pakistan'

As Ireland gears up for its Test debut against Pakistan, wicketkeeper-batsman Niall O'Brien believes the team has what it takes to trump a seasoned opponent in the longest format.

Niall O'Brien: "I would love to see Ireland as a competitive Test nation and have a really striving domestic scene."   -  GETTY IMAGES

If you have followed Ireland cricket closely, the O’Brien brothers — Niall and Kevin - would've been a recurring feature; the duo being the country's most consistent performers over the last decade.

Who can forget the 2011 World Cup, where Kevin slammed a 63-ball 113 to script a famous three-wicket win over England in Bengaluru!

READ: Porterfield targets upset as Ireland prepare for Test debut

With Ireland gearing up for its Test debut against Pakistan — which begins at the Malahide in Dublin from Friday — Niall believes that his team has a chance of upsetting the sub-continent giant in the longer format.

In a free-wheeling chat with Sportstar, Niall opens up on a range of issues…

After decades of wait, the dream of playing a Test match finally comes true. How does it feel?

It’s a wonderful feeling. A lot of hard work; ups and downs, good and bad times have gone into it. So, it will be a proud day for me and my family.

From an affiliate member to a Test playing nation, how challenging has the journey been for the cricketers?

Being an associate (member) cricketer and now being a full-member doesn’t feel any different. I don’t look at these things in a class system. I just see cricketers as cricketers.

With the ball set to get rolling in the Test format, do you feel the real challenge begins now?

So much work has gone into getting us here. But the hard work needs to continue so that we do ourselves and our country justice.

Taking on Pakistan, a team which you beat in the World Cup in 2007, how excited are the boys?

I love playing against Pakistan. Their players are so talented and their supporters so lively. But they are unpredictable which gives us a chance.

What would the team’s aim be in the first Test?

Our aim is to win the game and we believe we can do it.

The Irish team has a large group of highly experienced cricketers. Do you think this mix of youth and experience will help?

Experience will be the key for us to draw on in the five days.

From 2019, the Irish cricketers will be considered as ‘overseas’ cricketers in English county. How do you see this?

I think it’s unfortunate for the younger lads. I played county cricket for 14 years and learnt my trade there. But now, we must develop our own competition.

At a time when Ireland is en route to its Test debut, does its omission from next year’s World Cup hurt you?

Missing the World Cup will hurt, but as of now I am not thinking about it.

In this long journey, what has been the high point for Ireland cricket?

My fondest memories are playing in World Cups and winning big games with my friends.

Lastly, in the next few years, where do you want to see Ireland cricket?

I would love to see Ireland as a competitive Test nation and have a really striving domestic scene.