Classy O'Connell paves the way
BEN O'Connell's return to the Ipswich and West Moreton Cricket Association has been a season to remember.
The former Redlands all-rounder captained Ipswich and Queensland Country and finished in the top three of both batting and bowling in the Ipswich Division One competition.
Fittingly, the all-rounder was last night named IWMCA Division One player of the year at the association's presentation night at Brothers Leagues Club.
With the bat, O'Connell's 451 runs at an average of 64.43 was bettered only by Laidley's evergreen performer Mick Sippel, with 503 runs at 55.89.
With the ball, only Eastern Taipans skipper Craig Cumming (28 wickets at 8.68) and Northsiders' Scott McCoombes (33 wickets at 10.52) claimed more scalps than O'Connell's 22 at 11.36.
"He's obviously a class player," O'Connell's Central Districts captain Jason Verrall said.
"He makes a huge difference for us.
"On the days he was away with the rep stuff, we noticed it.
"Both his batting and his bowling. He's very consistent.
"He's somebody you can bring on at one end and he'll build pressure. He'll work batsmen out and generally he gets them out.
"Then he comes out and bats at number three which is a tough position.
"He can adjust his game to the situation, build an innings and accelerate when the time is right."
Asked what O'Connell's greatest attribute was, Verrall replied: "Patience and confidence."
Laidley's Jarrod Bichel was named Ipswich representative cricketer of the year.
"He was unlucky not to make the South Queensland team," Ipswich Pioneers coach Craig Jesberg said.
"In the Webb Shield, he bowled really well without luck."
Even then Bichel was Ipswich's leading wicket-taker for the summer.
What most impressed Jesberg was the effort the young fast bowler put in every chance he got.
"He's a 100 pecent putter-inner," Jesberg said.
"He goes hard every ball and leaves nothing in the tank."
But what has taken Bichel from honest trier to quality representative cricketer is the greater understanding of his game.
"He's improved out of sight since the pre-season," Jesberg said. "He's maturing, upstairs as well. You've got to learn the craft, that's the hardest thing and you could see it with Jarrod almost every game.
"You could see what he was doing, working the ball and using the crease."
Division One leading run-scorers (runs, average, highest score): Michael Sippel (Laidley): 503, 55.89, 130 not out; Ben O'Connell (Central Districts): 451, 64.43, 102; Tim Clarke (Northsiders): 348, 34.8, 106; Craig Cumming (Eastern Taipans): 321, 35.67, 98; David Lyons (Northsiders): 314, 39.25, 62.
Leading wicket takers (wickets, average, best bowling) Scott McCoombes (Northsiders): 33, 10.52, 9-6; Craig Cumming (Eastern Taipans): 28, 8.68, 4-17; Ben O'Connell (Central Districts): 22, 11.36, 5-40; Cameron Wood (Swifts): 21, 18.38, 7-69; Mark Lehmann (Eastern Taipans): 20, 16.65, 5-25.