QUEENSLAND Country heads into the national country champion- ships at Bundaberg safe in the knowledge it is well prepared.
All of the Queensland Country batters made runs in two games against the Queensland under-19 team at Allan Border Field over the past two days, while the bowlers had a serious workout.
Playing on New Year's Eve, the Country team made 325 runs in its 50 overs, only to see the under-19s chase them down.
Yesterday, in a Twenty20 match, the senior country men successfully chased 192 to win with more than an over to spare.
"I've got no concerns at all," Ipswich-based Queensland Country coach Len Martin said.
"We got what we needed out of the two games.
"It was great preparation."
It was an improvement on last year when Queensland Country lost both games comprehensively.
"They've got four Australia under-19 players in their team," Queensland Country and Ipswich captain Ben O'Connell said.
"They've got a lot of good batters and bowlers, so it was a very good challenge.
"Last year they touched us up."
O'Connell, himself, spent some quality time in the middle to ensure he was in good form to lead his state.
On Monday, in the one-dayer, O'Connell scored 51 runs and claimed 2-40 with his spin bowling.
Yesterday he hit 22 runs and claimed 0-15 from two overs.
"I've had two weeks off doing nothing except that one game at the Gabba (representing South East Queensland)," he said.
"So it was good to come back and still be able to hit it well and bowl well."
The high volume of runs scored in both games was indicative of the state of the pitch, which made it hard work for the bowlers.
That in itself was not a bad thing ahead of the start to the country championships, which begin tomorrow with Queensland taking on East Asia Pacific in a two-day game.
"The bowlers struggled a little bit, but stuck at it," Martin said.
"They were hard overs.
"AB Field is not dissimilar to what we'll get in Bundy.
"You've got to back the pace off a little bit and bowl not too full and not too short.
"I'm sure we can compete."
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