Ben O’Connell on his way to the first Twenty20 century in Australian Country Cricket Championship history, against South Australia on Friday.
Ben O’Connell on his way to the first Twenty20 century in Australian Country Cricket Championship history, against South Australia on Friday. Contributed

Captain O'Connell steps up

BEN O'Connell has shown why he was the perfect choice to captain Queensland Country at the national country cricket championships in Geelong.

With Queensland's shot at taking the title almost over following an early loss and a tie, Ipswich's O'Connell hit 102 of his team's 6-190 to inspire them to a Twenty20 win over the previously unbeaten SA (75) on Friday.

Later the same day O'Connell hit 26 and fellow Ipswich cricketer Mark Lehmann claimed 2-25 as Queensland (3-131) beat hosts Victoria (9-130) in another Twenty20 match.

Queensland's resurgence hangs in the balance however, after day one of their two day game against championship leaders NSW.

After rain delayed the start of the game yesterday, Queensland had NSW on their backs at 7-130, before the tail took them to 240.

Queensland made a positive reply, reaching 1-60 at stumps.

"We'd definitely have taken that before the game," O'Connell said.

"We did a bit of soul searching on Thursday night (after losing to ACT) and heard a few harsh words from the coach."

The coach, Ipswich's Len Martin, told the team its batsmen needed to stand up and O'Connell headed the call.

"Definitely," he said.

"Batting in the top six I took it to heart.

"I thought about my game and the areas I needed to improve.

"It was good to put my hand up for the team."

Queensland now sits in second spot on the ladder.

A win over NSW will put them in a great spot to claim the title, with just two one-day matches remaining - against Northern Territory and East Asia Pacific.

But first they must beat NSW, requiring them to follow Martin's advice.

"He spoke about us valuing our wicket more," O'Connell said.

"Waiting on their bowlers more for bad balls.

"If we beat NSW we're right up there.

"It will come down to the two one-dayers and hopefully we can get a bonus point or two."

O'Connell will come in at next wicket down today and knows if he is there at the end of the day Queensland will win.

"It is just about batting the day," he said.

"If we bat all day we win the game."



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