Josh plays for keeps
BUNDABERG'S Josh McLean is excited as he prepares to make his debut at the Australian Country Championships in Geelong, starting tomorrow and running through to January 12.
The 27-year-old Brothers wicket-keeper/batsman, who has had plenty of high-level experience, including representing South Australia at the under-19 nationals and in their Second XI team, will line up for the Queensland Country Brahmans.
He has played more than 200 first grade games in Adelaide and Brisbane in a 10-year period before taking up a work position in Bundaberg in December last year.
However, his aspirations of playing first-class cricket were blocked when he was ranked third in the Queensland keeper's pecking order behind Chris Hartley and Ben Dunk, so he headed to the country to start a television sports journalist career.
He was chosen in the Queensland Country side after helping South to defeat North in a match which doubled as a selection trial in Cairns last month.
The team assembled for the first time in Brisbane on Wednesday and has played two Twenty20 games against the Queensland under-19 side at Allan Border Field over the past two days before flying to Victoria today.
They will open their campaign with a two-dayer against defending champions Western Australia tomorrow, which McLean said would be a "real test with 96 overs each".
Queensland will play two-day games against ACT and New South Wales, Twenty20 dashes against South Australia and Victoria and one-dayers against East Asia Pacific and Northern Territory.
The team was to have a final training session after yesterday's game "to make sure everyone is on the same page" and McLean believes the Brahmans can win the title for the first time since 2009.
"Everyone is pretty confident - we have a very strong team and I think we can go down and win the comp - that's what we are aiming to do," McLean said.
"I am one of seven debutants for Queensland Country, which might be a good thing - and Fitzy (Sean Fitzsimmons) might be the oldest at 28 and I am the second oldest.
"But it would be fair to say, it is almost as good a standard as Second XI for South Australia and some of these players in the team could play first grade cricket in Brisbane or higher - there are some very good players.
"I have played with guys of this standard for over a decade and it will be run-of-the-mill stuff."
Also a very accomplished batsman, McLean has had a lean season with the willow, and while he will bat for Country at No. 7, he is confident he can contribute big runs in the right situation.
"I wouldn't mind batting higher but I'm in the keeper's spot and I think I can do a job down the order," he said.
With the start to the tournament tomorrow, McLean said he would be early to bed tonight and miss the New Year's celebrations.
"But we'll have a few beers if we win the carnival and they will be sweet if we do," he said.