Two local cricketers helped Brisbane State High School's 1st XI turn its fortunes in the annual Five Highs Cricket Carnival in Adelaide early last month and now they have their sights set on GPS glory.
Biddaddaba’s Keegan O'Donnell and Beaudesert’s William Conroy excelled during the round robin tournament that is seen as a key part of the team's preparations for the GPS season ahead.
Facing four of the premier cricketing schools in the country – Kent Street Senior High School, Melbourne State High School, Sydney Boys’ High School and hosts Adelaide High School – the boys from the sunshine state tied in first place but were resigned to second with run rate determining their fate.
Perth’s Kent Street Senior High were the eventual winners. They were also the only team to inflict defeat on the Brisbane side who recovered from the loss in their first match to record impressive victories in the remaining clashes.
Cunning off spinner O’Donnell claimed eight scalps across the four matches and his outstanding individual performance was rewarded with selection in the All Australian School merit team.
Though known for his lethal right arm medium fast bowling, it was with the bat that Conroy made his most valuable contribution of the tournament. It came in the third match against Melbourne State HIgh School.
Conroy strode to the crease with his team in serious trouble at 6/40 chasing 150 and showed Pat Cummins-esque steel on his way to 53 not out and a 110 run match winning partnership.
O’Donnell said he was pleased with his and the team’s performance against lineups loaded with state and national representatives.
“It was the best I’ve bowled in a long time,” he said. “It was a high standard of competition but GPS will be a lot harder and we know we need to keep working. To win GPS would be amazing. We have a team stacked with good players, so I think we have a decent shot.”
Emerging all-rounder Conroy said playing the elite competition had forced him to consider different strategies for taking wickets and scoring runs against quality attacks.
“In clubland you can just bowl at the stumps and you'll get wickets,” Conroy said.
“At that level, you need to try different bowling plans, field placements and a variety of deliveries. You also need to develop new shots and ways to score.”
He credited the 1st XI’s resurgence to an injection of young talent and a desire burning within the squad.
After a disappointing showing last year, the latest edition featuring new blood like O’Donnell and Conroy are determined to be a contender in 2019.
So committed to the cause are those vying for a position that they began training shortly after last season ended.
As well as honing their cricketing skills, 1st XI hopefuls have been turning up one morning a week for two school terms to run hill sprints in the belief the fitness will give them an edge over rivals.
Conroy and O'Donnell play locally for the Beaudesert Cricket Club in Division One and both hold ambitions of playing grade cricket in Brisbane following school.
“I wish I could take Everdell with me everywhere,” O'Donnell said.
“It's my favourite ground.
“I grew up playing cricket there and my dad trained me there, it's my second home.
“I have met a lot of mates through cricket and many that I still have now.”
Conroy also said he relished any opportunity to team up with his old mates at the Beaudesert club.