Australian Country Championships

Australian Country Championships

The Australian Country Championships, a prestigious annual event on the national calendar, were the brainchild of long-time Queensland Country Cricket official Jack McKenzie. They were held for the first time on 21-27 January 1985 at Beenleigh between Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia after a meeting 12 months earlier in Albury. Sadly, Jack McKenzie passed away soon after the carnival, but at least he had the comfort of seeing his idea become a huge success.

The second carnival, held in the Riverlands district of South Australia, was the first one that was sponsored by Prudential Assurance and saw Western Australia and the ACT join the competition.

The 1990-91 carnival was originally set down for Townsville but was washed out in January '91 by Cyclone Joey. It was re-scheduled to April '91 and was the first carnival where all matches were played at the same venue.

Queensland scored the first 500-plus total in 1993-94 when they posted 9-508 against NSW at Reid Oval, Canberra. The innings included centuries to Dean Temple (163) and Matt Thornhill (130).

In 1994-95 Queensland won the carnival by a meagre 0.04 points - 46.36 to NSW's 46.32. The following year was a cruel reversal - Queensland finished second by 0.47 points in what was the first carnival sponsored by the Australian Cricket Board after Prudential, sponsors for 10 years, chose not to continue their association.

In 1996-97, when the carnival was held in Toowoomba, Queensland fast bowler Mick Warden became the all-time leading wicket-taker in championship history after he took a championship record 20 wickets. Queenslander wicket-keeper Graeme Locastro also set a championship record of 19 catches.

In 1997-98 Queensland sent away a coach for the first time. It was none other than Terry Oliver, later to become a Pura Cup-winning coach of the Queensland Bulls. Oliver had been a member of the Queensland team that contested the first Australian Country Championships 13 years earlier.

In 1999-2000 Brian May took over from Sam Scuderi as Queensland's leading run-scorer at the Australian Country Championships. He would later become the leading run-scorer for all-states, and in 2002-03 was the first player to reach 2000 carnival runs.

The carnival has regularly grown in stature, and at the 2009 carnival teams included Queensland, NSW, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and a team from East Asia Pacific. In 2010 a team from the Northern Territory participated in a seven-team series that included Twenty20 matches for the first time and won the title on a countback from NSW..

Queensland have won the prestigious title nine times - 1987-88, 1994-95, 1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2001-02, 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2008-09.

In January 2009, to celebrate the 25th year of the Australian Country Championships, an All-Star team was chosen. It included four Queenslanders - Brian May, Sam Scuderi, Mick Warden and Coach Vic Williams. Full Story.

Here, Queensland Cricket pays tribute to players who have represented Queensland at the Australian Country Championships.



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