Ben O'Connell
Ben O'Connell

O'Connell relishes T20 challenge to lead quality team

BEN O'Connell has proven in the past two years he is a quality country cricketer and captain.

However, even he is a little intimidated by some of the players he will lead tomorrow.

O'Connell will captain the Infernos team in the KFC T20 Challenge at Sandgate, a side that includes four Queensland Bulls players.

It's a measure of the regard in which Country coach Len Martin holds the Ipswich all-rounder, both as a player and as a leader.

O'Connell, too, is pleased to have the chance to captain some of the best players in the state in the rapid-fire competition.

"To captain Nathan Hauritz, who's a spinner like myself, is a bit weird," O'Connell said.

"You get over that pretty quickly though and those are the guys you turn to for advice."

Tomorrow's Inferno's squad includes state players Michael Neser, Nathan Hauritz, Wade Townsend and Luke Feldman who made his way to the Bulls from the country system in Townsville.

"Having them around helps you develop as a cricketer and a captain and they've been really good about giving me advice," he said.

"I view this opportunity to be a sponge and absorb as much as I can from both my team mates and the opposition. I think the rest of the country guys are doing the same."

O'Connell's T20 commitments this weekend clash with his selection in the SEQ Schaeffer Shield team to play back-to-back limited-over matches in Toowoomba today and tomorrow.

Add to that his regular appearances for the Ipswich Pioneers Webb Shield team and O'Connell finds it hard to find any time to play for his club side Centrals.

The irony is complete when you consider O'Connell was looking forward to living and playing locally in Ipswich when he moved to the region for work two years ago.

"It's a bit all over the place at the moment," O'Connell said of his current nomadic cricket existence.

"Centrals have had a good start to the year so it's a bit disappointing not to get to play for the club.

"I have to drive to Toowoomba on Saturday and Brisbane on Sunday, so much for living and playing in Ipswich."

O'Connell will play Schaeffer Shield today alongside fellow Ipswich players Luke Barrett, Travis Ilka, Mark Sharrad, Rhys O'Sullivan and Craig Cumming.

The team, coached by Ipswich Pioneers coach Craig Jesberg, will play two 50-over games before the selection of the South Queensland team to play for the Queensland Country Championship at Allan Border Field next month.

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