Centrals first division captain and Queensland Country all-rounder Ben O'Connell.
Centrals first division captain and Queensland Country all-rounder Ben O'Connell. Rob Williams

Ipswich all-rounder to help Aussie Test batsmen

TO suggest Queensland Country all-rounder Ben O'Connell has been busy is an understatement.

With the glut of cricket, a young family and West Moreton Anglican College teaching duties to complete, he's had a hectic few weeks.

However, the Centrals skipper has another important role to play at the Gabba on Monday before focusing on his next round of representative cricket.

Left-arm orthodox spinner O'Connell has been invited to bowl some deliveries to the Australian Test batsmen as they prepare to face Pakistan in this week's First Test in Brisbane.

"The Aussies start their training and I'm going down to do a bit of net bowling because I'm a left-arm spinner and Pakistan have a couple of left-arm spinners in their Test squad,'' O'Connell said.

For O'Connell, it's another opportunity to help others and extend his cricket knowledge after recently being chosen in the Queensland Country team for the fifth time.

"It's all sort of just come pretty quickly again,'' he said of his representative commitments.

"I'm happy how I'm performing. It's good to be selected again.''

O'Connell, 30, is preparing to represent his state at next month's revamped national series in Wollongong.

With Queensland Country losing some of its older players and rebuilding, O'Connell will have an important role as one of the most experienced batsmen in the side.

"The younger players are coming through, which is good, and keeping it healthy for the rep team,'' he said.

Praising what his older teammates have contributed to country cricket, the highly regarded Ipswich all-rounder also has some new motivation.

"They've changed the format now and everything from the two-day cricket,'' O'Connell said.

The Queensland Country squad has been increased from 13-14 players to handle the higher intensity rigours of playing five one-dayers and five T20s.

In recent days, O'Connell has been fulfilling his end of year commitments at West Moreton Anglican College where he is director of rugby.

The left-hander appreciates the support of fiancee Millie, with the couple having young children Olivia and Oscar.

Meanwhile, O'Connell and South Queensland teammate Luke Barrett opened the batting for Centrals in Saturday's game knowing they will be replaced next weekend.

The pair put on a handy 43 before O'Connell was dismissed and Centrals slipped to 3/56 after Brothers were bowled out for 136 at Mark Marsh Oval.

All-rounders Barrett and Adam O'Sullivan took three wickets each as Brothers faced their first bowling after a bye the previous round.

"We're well poised for the second week,'' the Centrals skipper said, knowing his team has some good batting to come.

O'Connell, Barrett and Laidley skipper Alex Welsh are representing South Queensland in next weekend's T20 series in Brisbane.

O'Connell scored 72 in his previous Centrals innings against Thunder after an unbeaten 50 representing South Queensland in the recent series against North Queensland in Mackay.



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