IF EXPERIENCE counts for anything then Ben O'Connell has reason to be confident heading into the Australian Country Cricket champion- ships.
The championships begin today in Bundaberg, with Ipswich and Central Districts captain O'Connell leading the Queensland Country team for the second successive year.
"We had two good hit-outs against the Queensland under-19s (on December 31 and January 1)," O'Connell said of his team's preparation heading into the tournament.
"We've prepared pretty well.
"I think our chances are pretty good."
O'Connell should know, having led the team to last year's championships in Victoria, where Queensland Country finished third.
"We've come together for the first time and discussed our plans and goals," the left-handed, spin-bowling all-rounder said.
We want to win the tournament and improve on last year, where we had a tie and two close losses.
"We want to win the tournament and improve on last year, where we had a tie and two close losses.
"If things had gone our way we could have won."
It is O'Connell and his fellow Ipswich-based Queensland Country coach Len Martin's job to ensure Queensland turns those narrow losses into wins this time.
"We just need to execute better," O'Connell said.
"Each player has got to execute his role and each has a more detailed role this year.
"They all have a clear idea of what they need to contribute and if not the team needs to rally behind them."
O'Connell doesn't think he will approach things much differently this year but is confident he is better for last year's experience.
"I'm a bit more experienced," he said.
But I'll still go on my instincts and discuss things with a few of the experienced guys and Lenny (Martin).
"But I'll still go on my instincts and discuss things with a few of the experienced guys and Lenny (Martin).
"We're definitely not going to wait for things to happen.
"We want to be proactive, not reactive.
"We want to control the momentum of games for a change."
O'Connell is happy with the draw, which sees Queensland play two-day games first up, against East Asia Pacific starting tomorrow and NSW on Sunday and Monday.
"EAP finished mid-table last year," O'Connell said.
"But they've got a high number of guys from PNG.
"One-day and Twenty20 cricket is their forte and we've got them in a two-dayer.
"A couple of them play on the Gold Coast so we should have an inside word on them, which is handy. We lost narrowly to NSW last year and they are the reigning champs.
"They've got six or seven new faces so hopefully we get them before they've got too much momentum."
- January 3-4: Qld v EAP
- January 6-7: Qld v NSW
- January 8: Qld v NT (T20) and Qld v Victoria (T20)
- January 10-11: Qld v ACT
- January 13: Qld v SA (One-dayer)
- January 14: Qld v WA (One-dayer)