Ipswich Lightning to create storm in Bulls Masters Challenge

IPSWICH will host a qualifying round of the second edition of the Bulls Masters Country Challenge early next month.

The Ipswich Lightning will also make their debut at the tournament after last year's champions the SEQ Stormers were split in two.

Gold Coast Thunder is set to appear for the first time after Papua New Guinea's withdrawal from this year's event.

The side will be coached by Booval junior Steve Paulsen, who played for the Brisbane Heat during the 2011-12 Big Bash and last year represented Australia at the Hong Kong Sixes tournament.

Bulls Masters managing director Jimmy Maher said Paulsen's knowledge of T20 cricket will be invaluable for the Lightning squad.

"Steve Paulsen showed what a talent he is in the short form of the game a couple of years back when he earned a Brisbane Heat contract, so the Lightning boys should be picking his brain as much as possible during the event," Maher said.

"Steve made that Heat squad while playing club cricket in Brisbane, so he is a great example to these guys that if you put the hard work in, you can reap some big rewards."

While Paulsen played two Big Bash games at the Gabba in early 2012, his team will have the opportunity to line up at the home of Queensland cricket. The winner of the Southern Conference takes on the top team from the Northern Conference in a curtain-raiser to a Heat match later this year.

"I think having the opportunity to play at the Gabba is a massive incentive for any cricketer in Queensland," Maher said.

"I imagine the Lightning players will be pretty confident playing on their home turf and the guys who turned out for the title-winning Stormers last year will be very keen to get back to the grand final.

"With the Ipswich Logan Hornets running around in the Brisbane Grade competition, I think cricket is going to go from strength to strength in this area.

"Each team will gain the services of a current Queensland Bulls contracted player which we'll announce shortly, so it will be great for the Lightning squad to line up alongside a state representative."

All Southern Conference matches are at the Ivor Marsden Sporting Complex on October 5-6. The Northern Conference tournament is in Cairns.

Country Challenge

  • List of teams and Bulls Masters coaches for the Queensland Country Challenge.
  • Northern Conference: Far North Fusion (Jimmy Maher); North Queensland Monsoons (Dirk Tazelaar); Central Queensland Seamers (Lee Carseldine); Mackay Whitsunday Nitros (John Buchanan).
  • Southern Conference: Wide Bay Flames (Carl Rackemann); Darling Downs Suns (Adam Dale); Ipswich Lightning (Steve Paulsen); Gold Coast Thunder (Greg Rowell).

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