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Page last updated at 12:50 GMT, Friday, 21 January 2011

Ireland's Niall O'Brien targets upsets at World Cup


O'Brien hails Irish favourite Joyce

Northants wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien is hopeful Ireland can again be giant-killers at the forthcoming World Cup.

The 29-year-old was man-of-the-match as Ireland beat Pakistan by three wickets in Jamaica in the 2007 tournament.

O'Brien told BBC Look East: "We've had good success [in World Cups] in the past so we're looking forward to it.

"The format has changed so us minnows have a smaller chance of going through. But we're targeting a couple of teams and we need two or three wins."

Ireland also beat Bangladesh four years ago, and were only denied a potential victory over England in last year's ICC World Twenty20 by the weather.

And O'Brien is particularly looking forward to locking horns with Andrew Strauss' side.

"There's a lot of rivalry with England," he said. "We've had a real chance to beat them in the past but they've had a fantastic couple of years."

O'Brien endured an injury-hit 2010 season after a finger injury required surgery in July, ruling him out of action for both club and country.

India is a great place to play cricket and I can't wait

Niall O'Brien

And he says he cannot wait to get back out into the middle at the World Cup, which is being staged in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

"I love playing on the big stage - even at Northamptonshire when the cameras are in or when there's a full crowd," he said.

"It's been a difficult six to eight months for me but I'm fit and healthy, hitting the ball well and catching it well.

"India is a great place to play cricket and I can't wait."

Ed Joyce, who played for England at the last World Cup, is back in the Ireland team this time around and O'Brien says he is delighted to see him return to the fold.

"He's a fantastic player and a bit of a father figure in Irish cricket," said O'Brien.

"He's the favourite player, even with Eoin Morgan's emergence as a class player. He should steady the ship batting at three."

When the domestic campaign resumes, O'Brien will have to reclaim the wicketkeeping gloves from David Murphy, who took over behind the stumps at Northants during the Irishman's injury.

"He did really well and I was delighted for him," he added.

"For the good of my health, I had to get [the surgery] done. Hopefully I'll have a good six weeks in India and I'll come back, score plenty of runs and take the catches."

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see also
West left out of Irish cup squad
19 Jan 11 |  Ireland
O'Brien ruled out until September
23 Jul 10 |  Northants
O'Brien set to play with injury
01 Jun 10 |  Cricket

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