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O'Brien makes rallying call

Conquest of England today will top all of Ireland's past upsets and the Ireland captain will cherish that as he dons the cap for a 100th time.
Despite Ireland's loss to the West Indies on Friday, Niall O'Brien is certain beating England is not out of the realm of possibility.
Despite Ireland's loss to the West Indies on Friday, Niall O'Brien is certain beating England is not out of the realm of possibility.

As far as sporting rivalries go, Ireland meeting England on a cricket field is not a patch on the Ashes. Yet, Niall O'Brien wants nothing more to celebrate his 100th cap than to dump England out of the World Twenty20. O'Brien will become the 12th Ireland cricketer to achieve a century of international appearances when his unheralded side take on England in Guyana tonight. Even the most myopic Irishman would shy away from predicting an upset in this game, especially after Ireland's 70-run drubbing by the West Indies in their opener. But their wicketkeeper has set his sights high.

O'Brien, a former captain of the team and one of their leading batsmen, has already tasted victories over Pakistan (in the 2007 World Cup) and the West Indies (in 2004), but a win tonight will put all other achievements in the shade. "If we could beat England and knock them out of the World Twenty20, that would top everything as the best day of my career," O'Brien told the Belfast Telegraph. "It [the loss to the West Indies] was a bad night at the office from all of us, simply not an acceptable performance. We just have to forget about it and get back to the nets and prepare for Tuesday."

To achieve his aims, O'Brien - one of the more vocal wicketkeepers in the game - has no qualms about getting chirpy with Eoin Morgan, his good friend and a former international teammate before the destructive batsman opted to play for England. "I'll have a little chirp but it will be good banter, nothing malicious," said O'Brien. "We're all pretty good mates with Moggy, but we want and need to get him out as early as possible because he is their best player."

In the match against the West Indies, O'Brien only scored six runs as Ireland were bowled out for 68. Gary Wilson was the top-scorer with 17, behind the 19 extras. The middle-order batsman is hoping their worst is behind them. "It was a very disappointing result and the way we went about it was very disappointing and all we can do is move on now and beat England," Wilson told RTE Sport. "We've got good players and we know we can beat England on our day. "We would love to beat England, but at the end of the day it's a chance to get into the Super Eight of the World Cup.

"So it doesn't matter who it is. It's definitely not beyond us. By no stretch of the imagination is our tournament over." William Porterfield, the Ireland captain, was also optimistic about turning around his team's performance and securing a Super Eight spot. "We've got a massive game and we're still in the tournament, regardless of the result on Monday [England played the West Indies last night]," he said. "So there's still a massive amount to play for even though we didn't get the result [against the West Indies]." * Compiled by Ahmed Rizvi England v Ireland, 9.30pm on CricOne

When Eoin Morgan played in the 2007 50-over World Cup in the West Indies, he turned up for Ireland. The attacking batsman has since switched sides to become a regular member of England's limited-overs squad, and will today face his former team in the World Twenty20. Morgan played against England in 2007, having been run out for two and, while there would be those who disagree with what Morgan did - joining his country's neighbours and once bitter rivals - he sleeps well at night. He said: "I have every confidence in the decision I made. Here [in the England team] is where I want to be and I want to do well." * Agencies

Published: May 4, 2010 04:00 AM

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