Bulls Masters Country Challenge coming to Bundaberg

Bulls Masters and Bundaberg Invitational XI players at Salter Oval.
The Bulls Masters T20 Country Challenge is coming to Bundaberg following the success of matches against a local Invitational XI at Salter Oval. Photo: Bundaberg Cricket Association

Bundaberg will host the Bulls Masters T20 Country Challenge for the next three years following a Council decision to provide sponsorship.

Council today voted to support the event with $30,000 per year for three years.

Bundaberg Cricket Association treasurer Shaun Rose said hosting the tournament would be a massive boost for Bundaberg cricket, local sport in general and the overall Bundaberg Region.

“The Country Challenge involves eight regional teams competing annually in October for the Country Challenge Cup, with the top two teams playing off in a final at the Gabba as a curtain raiser to a Brisbane Heat Big Bash game,” he said.

“As was demonstrated with the recent Bulls Masters tour, games of this quality generate significant interest and bring in an array of players, sponsors and supporters which adds to the profile of Bundaberg as a quality sporting venue.

“These events also provide a significant economic injection to the region.

“The Bulls Masters Country Challenge will now move from Mackay to Bundaberg. It has helped grow cricket in Mackay not only from a participation perspective but also from an infrastructure level with funds generated invested back into sport in the region.

“Bundaberg Cricket Association has a similar plan and a perfect example of that investment is the major renovations about to commence at Salter Oval.”

Mr Rose said there is no doubt that Salter Oval is the spiritual home of cricket and rugby league in Bundaberg and any investment in its facilities is an investment in the future of local sport.

“Frankly, that investment, especially from an association level, would not be possible without events like the Country Challenge creating a revenue stream.”

He said holding the tournament in October shortly after the end of the rugby league season should not present problems.

“We have already spoken briefly with Bulls Masters and believe the second half of October is very achievable to prepare quality wickets and fields for the event,” he said.

“This event will not have an impact on our season as normally the association competition is placed on hold due to a number of the local Bundaberg representative players being part of the Wide Bay team for this tournament.

“The fact that the Country Challenge is being played here in Bundaberg really opens the door for our emerging talent to shine.

“Last year at least three local players could not accept invitations to be a part of the Wide Bay team due to the competition being held in Mackay.”

Mr Rose said cricket lovers were in for a feast of quality limited overs cricket and junior players were bound to be inspired by the competition being held on their local wickets.

“It may further encourage some of these juniors to strive for future advancement with their cricketing careers,” he said.

Council’s Sport and Recreation spokesperson, Cr Helen Blackburn, said the sponsorship agreement proposes to take the game to another level in the Bundaberg Region.

“It really is opening the door for our talented local players to engage in a quality competition that may provide them an opportunity for exposure at an elite level,” she said.

“There are also excellent opportunities for Council to get its branding exposed to a statewide audience through logo promotions, social media and on-ground announcements.”

Cr Blackburn said the Bulls Masters had delivered quality entertainment as well as mentoring programs through local schools.

“Playing the Country Challenge locally will provide an economic benefit to our community through accommodation, food and the normal visitor experiences expenses,” she said.

The Bulls Masters T20 Country Challenge involves teams from eight zones including Gold Coast and Darling Downs to the south Wide Bay, Central Queensland and North Queensland and the Whitsundays.

The event, held over three days, has been running since 2011 and is recognised as the premier T20 competition for regional cricketers. Each of the eight teams is mentored through the competition by a former Queensland cricket legend.