WITH the dust barely settled on Queensland's rugby league fields, the cricketers have dusted off the bats and tightened their spikes for the third annual Bulls Masters Country Challenge this weekend.

Twenty20 games will be played in northern conference (Townsville) and southern conference (Stanthorpe) with the Wide Bay Flames taking on Darling Downs Suns, Ipswich Lightning and Gold Coast Thunder.

In Townsville the Far North Queensland Fusion, North Queensland Monsoons, Mackay/Whitsunday Nitros and Central Queensland Seamers play each other.

The two-day carnival provides one of the best opportunities for Queensland cricketers to represent their region in T20. The winners of the two regions face each other in a curtain-raiser for the Brisbane Heat at the Gabba on January 4.

Wide Bay Flames will be paired with local man Carl Rackemann, John Buchanan will join Darling Downs Suns, Ipswich local Dirk Tazelaar will mentor Ipswich Lightning and Gold Coast Thunder will be paired with Steve Paulsen.

Jimmy Maher will be heading homeward to mentor the Far North Fusion, Adam Dale will join Mackay/Whitsunday Nitros, Central Queensland Seamers will be joined by Biloela boy Ken Healy and Andrew Symonds will feel right at home in Townsville where he will mentor the North Queensland Monsoons.

Queensland Cricket also provides one player from either the Brisbane Heat, Queensland Bulls or a rookie player to contribute to each of the teams.

Chairman of the Bulls Masters board Ian Healy said the Bulls Masters were extremely proud to be involved in providing more opportunities to cricketers throughout Queensland.

"Many of the Queensland cricketing legends cut their teeth in the bush and learned so many important facets of the game by playing with experienced cricketers in the country areas," he said.

"The Bulls Masters' involvement and contribution to this competition is about encouraging participation in our sport and giving the regions the chance to lay claim to their team.

"We also believe this will help provide pathways for our talented youth but also offer incentives, such as the Gabba final, to keep the experienced guys around to help teach the players of the future."

Bundaberg will be represented by Dean Krebs, Chris Duff, Matthew Fulton, Todd Sommerfeld, Callum Stitt and Mitch Waters in the Wide Bay team.



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