From the back garden to Lord's: Kevin O'Brien is ready for England

The 33-year-old is one of Ireland's key players for the ODI Series

From the back garden to Lord's: Kevin O'Brien is ready for England

Kevin O'Brien celebrates his century against England at the 2011 Cricket World Cup. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Sportzpics

Kevin O'Brien returns to familiar surroundings this weekend, but in an unusual capacity.

The 33-year-old has regularly played at Bristol for Gloucestershire, but on Friday afternoon he will be in the green of Ireland. For the first time ever, Ireland have travelled across the Irish Sea to play England in an ODI series. Two matches will take place in Bristol and Lord's respectively on Friday and Sunday.

O'Brien is returning from a hamstring injury, and he came back on Monday for his club side before this weekend's games. The Dubliner injured himself against Afghanistan in March in an ODI and missed out on featuring in the Intercontinental Cup clash between the sides. 

The home side have named a strong squad for the two games against Ireland this weekend. The squad that was named by England coach Trevor Bayliss was stronger than many expected, but O'Brien was not surprised.

Ireland's Peter Chase, Kevin O'Brien, Ed Joyce, John Anderson, Andrew Balbirnie and George Dockrell. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

"England dont want to lose to Ireland. It's a simple fact. They've come here in the past with a second-string team. Those days are gone with their new coach... It's not going to be an easy two games. It's a great opportunity for us as a team and as individuals to put a marker down and try and put them over."

Sunday's game will not be the first time O'Brien has played in Lord's for Ireland but it will be the most high-profile match. In the 2009 World Twenty20 he was out for a first-ball duck against Sri Lanka. Despite that experience in green, he is looking forward to Sunday's match.

"It's the home of cricket. It's where The Ashes started. It's where The Ashes are kept. It's the Augusta of cricket... It's such a special ground, with so much history. It will be a great day."

"For me, it's just another game of cricket in another ground. If you ask a golfer to think to much about Augusta, he's defeated before he tees off."

"To go back six or seven years, Irish fans would never have thought of travelling to Lord's for an ODI. It was a pipe-dream."

Kevin O'Brien and Niall O'Brien at the 2015 World Cup. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/PHOTOSPORT/Chris Symes

Despite attending Test matches in the London venue as a child, the closest he ever dreamed of playing there was with his brother and fellow team-mate Niall in their back garden in Dublin.

"We never thought we would be close to playing Test cricket. We always played Test cricket in the back garden though. It was never One-Day cricket... It's going to lead to more games against England, and in more venues around England".

From their back garden to Lord's, the journey has been an eventful one for the Kevin O'Brien and his older brother Niall. This weekend's series against England could mark the beginning of a golden age for Irish cricket.

Ireland's opening ODI against England takes place in Bristol on Friday, before the teams meet in Lord's on Sunday to complete the two-match series.