Queensland country cricket is buzzing.

So often played as a low-key precursor to the "real" cricket season, the franchise-based Twenty20 format has breathed new life into the game in the state's regions.

Borrowing from the IPL, teams are owned by local sponsors and players drafted to contest short, sharp competitions played under lights when possible.

Toowoomba, Bundaberg, Cairns, Gladstone and Gympie have all established leagues and Townsville will join them this weekend for the inaugural Mendi Tropical Big Bash.

Country cricket greats like Toowoomba's Brian May have been coaxed back to the crease while there were literal fireworks at Gympie's opening night earlier this month.

More than 800 people turned up to watch the first night of action at Cairns's redeveloped Griffiths Park last season.

Mackay is likely to follow Townsville and introduce a tournament next season and the end goal is to invite winning teams from each city to play each other and crown an overall champion.

Buoyed by the interest levels, keen Cairns franchise owners have doubled the budget to fund promotion and entertainment to take the event to greater heights.

"Eight hundred people to a game of local cricket; that's unheard of in Cairns," Queensland Country Cricket president Kev Maher said.

"There has been some great cricket played and it's put new life into the game in the country.

"Franchise owners are throwing all their weight behind it, everyone is talking about it."

New money and fresh eyes on the game have brought important grassroots spin-offs.

"The Big Bash has been around 10 years but at a club level it's never really been replicated like this," Queensland Cricket's head of community cricket Jon Stimson said.

"Society is changing; people want shorter, sharper, dynamic options and we're matching that.

"It's like a city's very own BBL; one that reinvigorates senior cricket and shows junior players how dynamic and energetic their sport is.

"And the extra revenue that's being created is going straight back into cricket, so it's a really good news story. Congratulations to Townsville Cricket for pulling it together."

Townsville's EV2 Lions captain Chris Stanger will lead a side featuring Queensland Country teammates Craig McElligott and fast bowler Justin Dixon, who he incredibly jagged as the draft's ninth pick.

But he said the side also had a smattering of exciting juniors and some lower-grade talent that could surprise.

"We are having strategy meetings, creating bowling plans and setting fields," hard-hitting left-arm legspinner Stanger said.

"So it's exposing more players to a rep cricket environment - anything that raises the standard of country cricket is a good thing."

Stanger was initially earmarked to captain a team in Cairns' debut season before the competition was delayed by COVID-19.

The physiotherapist had moved home to Townsville ahead of the Cairns relaunch and, with his first child on the way, had to knock back offers to be flown north to participate.

"I'm excited to finally be part of it now (in Townsville), and playing with and against different guys after so many years," he said.

"There is plenty of hype around the season and it gives life to the T20 format that it didn't have before, it reinvigorates it and puts a focus on it," Stanger said.

Another big name newcomer in the competition is two-time Queensland Country Player of the Year Sam Lowry who was the first player drafted.

Originally from Central Queensland, Lowry has relocated to Townsville this year and was quickly snapped by the Gold Coast City Bulls where the hard-hitting batsman will link up with Townsville cricket identity and former Queensland Country player Tony Hampson.

The various T20 leagues around the State will also tie into the region-based Bulls Masters T20 Country Challenge later this year, with the top two teams traditionally meeting in the Final at the Gabba prior to a BBL fixture.

The Mendi Tropical Bash gets underway this weekend and it's hoped Townsville's tournament will also generate interest ahead of Queensland's first Marsh Sheffield Shield game in the city since 2016 in October.

Selected Queensland Bulls, Queensland Fire and Brisbane Heat players will also be in Townsville next month as part of the regional Summer of Cricket Launch brought to you by StreetSmarts.

Brisbane Heat and Queensland Bulls quick Xavier Bartlett and WBBL Brisbane Heat and Queensland Fire allrounder Courtney Sippel will be in Townsville on Thursday 16 September for a series of activities around PlayCricket month,

Stimpson said the regional visits were part of a wider participation campaign to encourage boys and girls to sign-on with their local clubs to experience junior cricket formats or the popular introductory Woolworths Cricket Blast program.

“We run our Play Cricket sign-on recruitment campaign from September and having local engagement is a big part of attracting new participants or encouraging past players to get out and enjoy the game once again in the coming summer,’’ he said.

“With the Queensland Bulls scheduled to play a Marsh Sheffield Shield and Marsh One Day Cup competition at Riverway Stadium in October, and a range of activities around Play Cricket month, the region is going to be well placed to grow the game further,” Stimpson said.

2021 Mendi Tropical Big Bash

Townsville

EV2 Lions
Chris Stanger (c)
Cooper Guest
Craig McElligott
Geo Benny
Ieuan Harker
Jack Freeman
Jake Heers
Jarrod Edmondson
John Short
Justin Dixon
Mark Taviani
Matthew Grant
Matthew McGuire
Ryan McCarron
Trent Walsh
John Short (coach and team owner)

Wildcatz Indoor Sports
Andrew Boyle (c)
Chris Ahern
Curtis James
Daniel Gartrell
Ethan Mendiolea
Gaurav Patel
Guy Brooks
Heath O'Brien
Herbie Heuir
Jackson Hannon
Jake Rebgetz
Justin Rawlins
Lachlan Ford
Luke Lamborn
Nick Barkle
Glenn Seri (coach)
Kevin Rebgetz (owner)

Reldas Ringer
Adam Zabala (c)
Bradley Stout
Brendan Williams
Caleb Giddy
Christopher Gartrell
Daniel Mutton
Dylan Debenham
Gary Friend
Hayden Searle
Jamie Heit
Jarrod Camer
Keegan Morrish
Sahan Wijayasekara
Sam Winters
Stephen Taylor
Sam Collingwood (coach)
Wade Sadler (owner)

Gold City Bulls

Tony Hampson (c)
Bailey Gould
Bingen Balumzategui
Gourav Sharma
Greg Flanagan
Gurpreet Singh
Jack Raffles
Jasvir Thind
Kyle Dearness
Oskar Morrison-Beard
Sam Lowry
Sam Woodbury
Sean Danaher
Shaun Curnow
Travis Busch
Girish Basavarai (owner)
Darren Frakes (coach)
Vilton Crasto (manager)

Gold City Bulls

Tony Hampson (c)
Bailey Gould
Bingen Balumzategui
Gourav Sharma
Greg Flanagan
Gurpreet Singh
Jack Raffles
Jasvir Thind
Kyle Dearness
Oskar Morrison-Beard
Sam Lowry
Sam Woodbury
Sean Danaher
Shaun Curnow
Travis Busch
Girish Basavarai (owner)
Darren Frakes (coach)
Vilton Crasto (manager)