Captain learns from mistakes
AS he heads to Cairns to captain North Queensland this weekend, Ben O'Connell is conscious of the lessons learned last time he was in a similar position.
With rain predicted for Cairns this week, O'Connell is expecting a damp weekend as he attempts to lead South Queensland to a rare Queensland Country Cup win over their northern counterparts.
It will be a far cry from the last few weekend's in Ipswich where his form has been as fine as the weather.
O'Connell made 91 and took 5-61 against Brothers in the latest round of the Ipswich West Moreton Cricket Association Division One competition.
"It will definitely be a different challenge," the 26-year-old said.
"Different players and different conditions. It should be a good experience."
O'Connell faces a difficult task as captain.
He only gets to meet the team he will captain on Friday, with the game starting the following morning.
O'Connell at least has the benefit of knowing a bit about his three Ipswich teammates - Mark Lehmann, Paul Milne and Kev Cumming.
"It is good to know a few of the Ippy and South East Queensland boys," O'Connell said.
"Everyone seems to be hitting form at the right time of the season."
O'Connell, however, has been disappointed with himself.
"In the last two games I should have gone on and made a bigger score in both games," he said.
"It was my shot selection in both instances (that got me out).
"Against Brothers, I pulled a short one to a man on the fence.
"He'd only just been moved there but I didn't notice.
"Once I was settled in, I got a bit comfortable."
With 96 overs in each day's play in Cairns, O'Connell knows he will have to show much greater concentration if his team is to overturn the recent history of North Queensland dominance.
"I think coming together as a team is the biggest challenge," he said.
"To give everyone a chance to push for (Queensland Country) selection."
That includes himself.
O'Connell set himself the goal of representing Queensland Country when he returned to Ipswich cricket from the Brisbane grade competition this year.
With four spinners in the South Queensland team, it could be tough balancing his own ambition with the team's best interest.
"Obviously we've got a lot of options," O'Connell said.
"North Queensland made South spend a day and a half in the field last year so we don't want a repeat of that.
"They've got some pretty handy quicks. We'll see what the conditions are when we get there and see what we've got to do."
O'Connell has been in a similar position before, having represented South Queensland in 2003-04.
He is determined not to let the same thing happen to him twice.
"I was 19 or 20 and was a bit overawed by the situation," he said.
"It was at Allan Border Field and I was just bowling back then.
"I didn't bowl too well.
"I didn't come to terms with the conditions and playing group."