Test cricket star revisiting youth

IT has taken a tragedy to do it but Andy Bichel will don the footy boots he last wore as a 20-year-old to participate in today’s Ipswich Junior Rugby League Charity Flood Appeal carnival.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Bichel said of playing rugby league again after 20 years.

“I’m looking forward to it.

“But getting out into the community is the most important thing – putting smiles on some dials and helping out.

“Hopefully we can raise some money for junior rugby league.

“This is one small way of doing that.”

Bichel is a Laidley product but in all his youth growing up there never did he see anything like the devastation from January’s flood.

“I went out there last week,” Bichel said.

“To drive down some of the roads I grew up in and see the water heights and damage done (was amazing).

“Going through Grantham was a shocking sight.”

Bichel was a promising rugby league player back in his youth, playing league in winter and cricket in summer before he made the choice to focus solely on cricket.

Bichel represented the Ipswich Jets in the under-10s and played for the Gatton Hawks in the Toowoomba competition and Laidley Lions in Ipswich.

He captained the Laidley under-19s and made his first grade debut off the bench against Goodna in about 1990.

“I was always juggling between the two,” he said of his two sporting loves. “But playing rep cricket for Queensland Country persuaded my move.

“There was talk of me being a shadow player for the Toowoomba Clydesdales but it was never in concrete.”

What better way to make his return to league than for a great cause against the likes of Allan Langer and Kerrod Walters, alongside brother Robbie, who is also in the Ipswich team.

“It is a good way to do it,” Bichel admitted.

“There is a relationship with Langer and the Walters boys, coming from similar backgrounds and the same sort of area.

“We’ve admired each others’ careers and it is nice to be able to do it together.”

Bichel will be joined today by former fellow Queensland fast bowler Dirk Tazelaar, though injury means Tazelaar is only on board as manager of the Ipswich team.

Bichel’s efforts to help those affected by the floods does not end tonight.

Next weekend, he will play in a charity cricket tournament at Gatton and is involved in a fundraising event at Gatton Showgrounds on March 26.

“To be able to help in those areas makes a difference to me,” Bichel said. “All the cricket clubs have been affected so it’s all about helping the grass roots.”

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