Graham Hick batting for SEQ against PNG at Salter Oval.
Graham Hick batting for SEQ against PNG at Salter Oval. Mike Knott

T20 challenge a hit

IT'S not often you have the chance to pad up alongside a Queensland Bulls player.

And it's not like everyday you have the chance to play against a former Test star and a cricket side from Papua New Guinea.

It's because of those reasons and more Maryborough cricketer Paul Sanders is a strong supporter of the new Bulls Masters Twenty20 Country Challenge.

Even though the Past Grammars batsman played just one game for his team, Wide Bay Flames, at the weekend because of injury, Sanders was keen to see the round robin tournament return next year.

"Without a doubt and I think it will exist next year," he said.

"It's a great concept and there was lots of good cricket played and a good way to kick off the season.

There was a lot of hype among the players with the new uniforms and different format and the fact it's something new to everyone."

Sanders's teammate, wicket-keeper-batsman Sam Chew, had a rough time in Bundaberg failing to score more than 12 runs in his three digs as the Flames dropped all three of its matches.

But Sanders pointed to a lack of preparation as the reason for Wide Bay's disappointing showing.

"Many of us haven't played any cricket and from a batting perspective, facing the best bowling you're going to face all season without any practice makes it quite tough," he said.

"I don't know what the answer is, but you can't play cricket all year round.

"I hope they can still fit it in somewhere in the cricket calendar." Performances aside, Sanders said the addition of star power injected a lot more interest in the tournament.

Ex-Bulls player Lee Carseldine and contracted Bulls young gun Corey Barsby donned the Flames uniform.

Former England Test batsman Graeme Hick was a treat to watch play for South East Queensland Stormers.

But it was the PNG side which caught Sanders's eye the most.

"They just have enthusiasm to burn," he said.

"They were always happy to be playing and enjoying what they were doing. They just love the game and love being part of it."



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