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    Kevin O'Brien laments missing IPL 5

    New Delhi: Ireland allrounder Kevin O'Brien on Friday expressed his disappointment for not being picked by any of the franchises for the fifth season of the ongoing Indian Premier League. "It was really unfortunate not to be part of the IPL. I was disappointed, upset would rather be the right word. IPL is a fantastic tournament. It is probably the biggest tournament after the World Cup," O'Brien, who is currently in India to promote the 'Education in Ireland' project, said.

    O'Brien became an instant hero last year when his whirlwind 50-ball century, the fastest in the World Cup history, helped Ireland thrash England in a round-robin match in Bangalore last year. And the 28-year-old agrees that a lot has changed since then.

    "A lot has changed on the field. I signed for the Sri Lankan Premier League [which was postponed for an indefinite period] and for [the English county side] Gloucestershire. Off the field too I got recognition. I was nominated for numerous awards and became the brand ambassador of Irish Education,” O’Brien, who has recently finished writing a book 'Six After Six', said, adding, "All these things would not have been possible without the World Cup success."

    O'Brien said that since the 2007 World Cup, where the Ireland national team surprised everyone with their win over Pakistan, the cricket repository in his country has swollen with more and more youngsters taking up the game. "It [cricket's popularity] is growing, especially in the last four or five years. The numbers [of youngsters taking up the game] have nearly doubled [in Ireland]. With more kids taking up the sport, the future looks good for the country," he said.

    Talking more about his new book, O'Brien said he is proud of his work. The response [for the book] has been very good. It has given a good insight into where I have grown up and where I come from. Cricket is a 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, whose father too has played for Ireland, said.

    Though he was not even born when India won their first World Cup in 1984, 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, but I have grown up admiring Kapil Dev. And then in 2005,it was Andrew Flintoff [who inspired me a lot]. I was there during that [2005] Ashes series and I really liked the way he played," he added.