SEQ players battle on gamely after losing skipper
THE latest Bulls Masters T20 Country Challenge had it all - aggressive batting, thrilling finishes and even a moth in the ear.
Former Queensland fast bowler Dick Tazelaar had nothing but encouragement for the SEQ Lightning players who battled hard in Mackay over the weekend.
Although SEQ were unable to make the major finals, team mentor Tazelaar was quick to highlight the benefits so early in the season.
"It's been a good experience,'' Tazelaar said.
"The guys have probably seen where they are at and different levels of cricket.
"It was a team that's just been put together and it was their first hit-out.
"They were a bit raw yet.''
The SEQ Lightning side was made up largely of Ipswich players, with some support from the Logan/Springwood area.
SEQ narrowly lost their three qualifying games.
On Friday night against Central Queensland, Lightning made 90 chasing their 116 run target.
Saturday's games where even closer.
After SEQ scored 4/134, Gold Coast only reached the total in the last over.
Captain Alex Welsh scored 53 and Ben O'Connell made 51 in that game.
Spinner Luke Barrett took 4/25 on his way to finishing with seven wickets for the series.
Against North Queensland in the afternoon, SEQ again lost with two balls to spare after setting 98 to win.
Brodie Dwyer, batting at five, scored 34 in that game.
In Sunday's playoff for seventh, SEQ made 7/112 chasing Darling Downs' 9/170.
O'Connell and opening bowler Kev Cumming took three wickets each in the last match.
Lightning lost experienced leader Welsh after the Laidley allrounder injured his knee on Saturday.
In a tough weekend, Welsh also had to go to hospital on Friday night to have a large moth removed from his ear.
Queensland Country allrounder O'Connell took over the leadership role.
SEQ coach Scott Barrett said losing English-bred Welsh was a huge blow given how close his team were in most games.
Welsh's batting, especially, could have made a difference.
"Our bowling has been very good,'' Barrett said.
"That's been our strength all weekend.
"In those first three games, we were probably 15-20 runs short in our batting. And not having someone of his (Welsh's) standard playing was a big loss for me and the side.
"But a credit to the boys.
"Our bowling and our fielding in those first three games was very good standard.''
Despite SEQ's setbacks, Sheffield Shield winning bowler Tazelaar was pleased to see the local cricketers involved.
"It's a good concept what the Bulls Masters are doing with it,'' Tazelaar said of the T20 format played at Mackay's impressive Harrop Park complex.
"You can get three games at night under lights, so it's incredible.''
Mackay will host the tournament for a third time year next year.
Barrett agreed with Tazelaar about the carnival benefits.
"They (the players) know if they want to continue to play higher level cricket, if they have come up here, they have to got to perform,'' the SEQ coach said.
"It sort of puts in perspective where they actually are.''