Have grown up admiring Kapil Dev: Kevin

New Delhi: Born almost a year after the Indian cricket team lifted the 1983 World Cup, Ireland allrounder Kevin O`Brien said it was Kapil Dev whom he had always looked up to as a budding cricketer.

"India won the World Cup in 1983 and I was born in 1984, I have grown up admiring Kapil Dev. And then in 2005 it was Andrew Flintoff. I was there during that Ashes series and I really liked the way he played," said Kevin O`Brien.

The Irish cricketer became an instant hero last year when he helped Ireland thrashed England in the last year`s World Cup match with a strokeful century in Bangalore. Set a target of 328 to win, O`Brien blasted his way to a 50-ball century, the fastest in the World Cup history, to help his team overwhelm the English, and the cricketer agrees that a lot has changed since then.

"A lot has changed on the field, I signed for Sri Lankan Premier League and for Gloucestershire. Off the field I got recognition, I was nominated for numerous awards and I became the brand ambassador of Irish education. I also wrote a book. All these thing would not have been possible without the World Cup success," said O`Brien, who is currently in India to promote the `Education in Ireland`.

Kevin, though said he was "upset" about not being picked by any of the Indian Premier League franchises. "IPL is a fantastic tournament, it is probably the biggest tournament after World Cup. It was really unfortunate not to be a part of the IPL. I was disappointed, upset would rather be the right word," he said.

Asked how difficult it was to pursue a career in cricket in Ireland, where the game is not one of the popular sports, the allrounder said it was an "easy pick" for him. "It was pretty easy to pick cricket. I come from a sporting family, my dad played cricket for Ireland. I have grown up with the game. Cricket is in my blood," O`Brien said.

The 28-year-old said that since the 2007 World Cup, where the Ireland national team surprised one and all with their win over Pakistan, the cricket repository has swollen with more and more youngsters taking up the game. "Its growing, since last four-five years, the numbers have nearly doubled and with more kids essentially taking up the sport, the future looks well for the country," he said.

Taking about his new book – Six After Six – the cricketer said he was proud of his work. "The response has been very good. The book given good insight into where I have grown up and where I come from. Cricket is pretty easy thing for me to talk about and it has come really well. It is a special thing and I am proud of it," O`Brien said.