Ipswich cricketer Ben O’Connell has been selected to compete in the KFC T20 Challenge.
Ipswich cricketer Ben O’Connell has been selected to compete in the KFC T20 Challenge. Rob Williams

Teacher in tough test

IT is a long way from Mark Marsh Oval to the Indian Premier League, in terms of cricketing standards and geography.

But players from both will rub shoulders in the opening round of the KFC T20 Challenge.

Ipswich's Ben O'Connell will be in the mix.

The Central Districts all-rounder has been picked in the Flames team, one of four to contest the challenge over the three round competition next month, beginning Sunday at Redlands.

His Flames captain is Queensland and Delhi IPL skipper James Hopes.

Ipswich's trial matches against Toowoomba on Saturday were selection trials for the challenge but O'Connell rated himself no chance after failing with the bat.

Someone was watching the previous weekend at Caloundra.

There O'Connell scored 47, 49 and 97 and took nine wickets in three games for a Queensland Country development team against the ACT.

When O'Connell left Brisbane team Redlands after six seasons to return to Centrals last summer, he thought his cricket would be taking a step back.

A job at Lowood State High encouraged him to relocate to East Ipswich and rejoin his old club in the Ipswich and West Moreton competition.

"It was a bit too far to travel (to Redlands) and I thought I'd still enjoy my local cricket," the 26-year-old explained.

The challenge squads were picked by the Queensland selection panel of Trevor Hohns (chairman), Rod Rice, Ray Phillips and Ken Dixon and will be reviewed ahead of the second round matches on October 16.

If O'Connell performs well for the Flames, he could be one of four players accepted into the Queensland Academy of Sport squad to play in the Futures League T20 series in late November.

From there the best two to emerge from the challenge will earn spots in the inaugural Brisbane Heat squad to contest the Big Bash League, led by Matthew Hayden, beginning in December.

"It's definitely something to think about," he said. "I'll definitely be trying to do my best to get my foot further in the door.

"I've played with or against almost all the guys (in the KFC T20 Challenge) so I'll definitely be confident going out there."

In the meantime, O'Connell will rely on the Ipswich Division One competition to stay in form, starting with Saturday's season opener against premiers Eastern Taipans.

"It's testing in areas," he said of the standard of Ipswich cricket.

"It is more of a test for myself - working on my patience, building as a better all round player and contributing to the team."

Sunday's matches feature the Flames against the Infernos from 11.30am at the Fred Kratzmann Oval. The Burners take on the Blaze from 12.30pm at Peter Burge Oval.

 

FINE ACHIEVER

  • Representative honours: Queensland Country under-19, South Queensland.
  • Favourite TV show: Entourage.
  • Favourite movie: Step Brothers.
  • You'll find me reading: My students' assignments.
  • Superstitions: I always put my left pad on first.
  • If I wasn't a teacher I'd be: A physiotherapist.
  • Best advice: Work hard and you can achieve anything.