Aussie link in Irish win
H E i s t h e B r i s b a n e - b o r n carpenter whose selfless act paved the way for Ireland allrounder Kevin O’Brien to stun England with the fastest century in World Cup history.
O’Brien is today a national hero after his sparkling 50-ball century piloted his side to a stunning defeat of the Poms, but the role o f A u s s i e A l e x C u s a c k i n Ireland’s greatest cricketing moment cannot be understated.
The 30-year-old from Bardon – who played club cricket at Norths with Mitchell Johnson and James Hopes – provided the poise to complement O’Brien’s power hitting. Cusack added 47 as the pair combined for a match-winning sixth-wicket partnership of 162 f r o m j u s t 1 0 7 b a l l s t o sensationally reel in England’s mammoth 8-327.
As the razor-sharp English press took the scalpel to Andrew Strauss’ shattered side, Cusack and the Irish partied into the wee hours on Indian Kingfisher beer, vodka, bourbon and champagne.
The Irish hit the sack around 5am yesterday. Four hours later, Cusack was answering phone calls from the media, savouring the sweetest moment of his cricketing life.
‘‘ This is brilliant. To see the look on the England guys’ faces was priceless,’’ Cusack said.
" There was no Guinness at the team hotel, so we had the local Kingfisher brew out.
‘‘ The adrenalin is still flowing – I’m on top of the world.’’
O’Brien’s brutal 113 off 63 balls, laced with 13 fours and six sixes, saw him eclipse Matthew Hayden’s 66-ball ton against South Africa at the 2007 World Cup, but it was Cusack’s sense of team that inspired the Irish boilover.
Entering the 42nd over at 5-272, needing 56 to win from 54 balls, O’Brien blocked a ball to point. The pair set off, but when Cusack sensed one of them would be run out, he aborted mid-pitch, sent O’Brien back and turned to make a valiant lunge for the crease.
He failed to make his ground, but Cusack’s decision to sacrifice himself to keep O’Brien in the middle set up the victory.
‘‘ I just knew Kevin had to stay out there,’’ he said. ‘‘ His innings is the best I’ve seen from anyone. It was absolutely unbelievable.
‘‘ We took the power play ( forcing England to bring in its outfielders) when we were five wickets down and we didn’t have much to lose really.
‘‘ We scored 60-odd in those ( five) overs, we had plenty of overs left and it got to nearly a run a ball and that’s when we had an idea we had a chance of winning."
Cusack, who has Irish heritage, moved to the Emerald Isle in 2005 and has become a key member of the side.
From 32 matches, the mediumpacer has 34 wickets at 21.47 and averages 27 with the bat.
YHANDY PARTNERSHIP: Alex Cusack, left, and record-breaker Kevin O’Brien