The tournament, which runs until January 13 in and around Geraldton, will showcase Australia’s finest regional cricketing talent in one-day and T20 matches for men and women.
The Queensland team won the men’s overall champion title in Wollongong last summer to add to their 2014-15 competition title.
Talented Gold Coast batsman Jimmy Spargo will captain Queensland after an outstanding carnival as vice-captain last summer, culminating in selection in the Australian Country XI at the finish of the tournament.
“The championships are a great celebration of country cricket, providing Australia’s best regional players with the opportunity to test their skills at a high level of competition,” Cricket Australia Executive General Manager of Game and Market Development Andrew Ingleton said.
“Regional areas continue to produce quality cricketers, from the great Sir Donald Bradman to current Australian star Josh Hazlewood, and previous country championships players including Andy Bichel, Michael Bevan and Shaun Tait.
Brahmans allrounder Jake Roach is set to shine after a strong summer for Far North Cricket, highlighted by some powerful batting and accurate bowling, while Broadbeach Robina veteran Sean Fitzsimmons will be playing in his 13th country carnival for Queensland.
CQ allrounder Jason Seng was a late inclusion, replacing Justin Dixon who suffered a broken hand in the warm-ups this week.
Former W League player as batting allrounder Ashley Spina will be taking part in her second championships for the women’s Brahmans team after swapping soccer for cricket before last summer’s carnival.
Spina, the daughter of NQ rugby league legend Laurie, joins an experienced Queensland line-up which also features former Konica Minolta Queensland Fire allrounder Leteysha Randall.
The women’s squad also includes emerging Ipswich young gun Lauryn Anderson and Gold Coast Dolphins indoor cricket ace Amy Riddell.
Follow the scores at http://www.countrychamps.com.au/
Queensland Country men’s squad: Sam Lowry, Gerard Fox, Mitchell English, James Spargo, Sean Fitzsimmons, Chris Stanger, Jake Roach, Brenton Edwards, Chris Hall, Sam Winton, Michael Salerno, Harry Winton, Shaun McCarthy, Jason Seng. Coach: Lenny Martin. Manager: Johnathon Smith.
Queensland Country women’s squad: Alexandra Weeks, Stephanie Baldwin, Lauryn Anderson, Amy Riddell, Ashley Spina, Phoebe Murphy, Leteysha Randall, Lauren Shackleton, Hannah Clarke, Meagan Dixon, Lexie Muller, Carly Cooper, Jessica Carroll, Stephanie Morgan. Coach: Richard Griffiths. Manager: Nicole Wills.