Standing in the slip cordon, Paul Collingwood was practising his golf swing. Wicket-keeper Matt Prior could barely summon the energy to sledge O’Brien.
Two hours, and 113 runs from 63 balls later, the England players were panicking. O’Brien had taken Ireland to the verge of the greatest shock in World Cup history.
John Mooney completed the job, slamming James Anderson to the boundary for four to complete a historic threewicket victory and spark a night of wild celebrations for fans and players.
Both teams were staying in the same fivestar hotel, and when they arrived back the chef had made a cake for England captain Andrew Strauss, who was celebrating his 34 that day.
Strauss, Collingwood and Prior sportingly joined the Irish team for a drink and to share the birthday cake, before wisely making the decision to leave and allow Ireland to begin their party in earnest.
The hotel bar was due to shut at 1 am, so, behind the scenes, the Irish backroom staff “commandeered” the undrunk and unwanted beers the England team had stockpiled for Strauss’ birthday celebrations.
Despite the shock win over England, Ireland were ultimately disappointed in their ambition to go on and make the quarterfinals of the World Cup.
Ireland chased another 300+ total in the final group stage match against the Netherlands, but two wins from six games was not enough to see Phil Simmons’ side through to the last eight.
Trent Johnston leads Ireland to victory over Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup
Captain Trent Johnston addressed his team in the dressing room at Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica on St Patrick’s Day 2007, naked from the waist up like a gladiator.
Ireland’s mostly parttime team had already caused a major World Cup shock by forcing a tie against Zimbabwe in their first group match.
Johnston was speaking in the innings break of their second match, against Pakistan, and urging his team to complete the job and secure a famous victory.
His side had just skittled out Inzaman UlHaq’s team for 132, and if they saw out the win, Ireland would almost certainly qualify for the last eight of the World Cup on their first appearance in the competition.
Johnston, who had negotiated time off from his job as a fabric salesman in Dublin to play in the World Cup, was in no hurry to resume his career back home in Ireland.
“Now we have a chance to go to the Super Eights,” he told his silent teammates.
“We have a massive f***ing chance to stay in the West Indies for an extra four weeks. I sure as hell don’t want to go back and sell fabric”.
On a green wicket more suited to Westmeath than the West Indies, Niall O’Brien hit 72 to drag his side to the verge of victory, then Johnston himself wrapped up the win with a massive six off Azhar Mahmood.
The celebrations were soon cut short, when Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room that evening.
Ireland struggled to maintain their form in the Super Eights, although their lone victory, over Bangladesh on 15 April in Bridgetown, saw Ireland secure official oneday international status.