Friday, August 1st, 2014

Mason: Bumpy Deserves “huge Credit” For Role In England Hero Moeen’s Development

Mason: Bumpy Deserves “huge Credit” For Role In England Hero Moeen’s Development

Worcestershire bowling coach Matt Mason believes the club's Director Of Cricket Steve Rhodes deserves "huge credit" for putting faith in new England hero Moeen Ali's ability to develop into a genuine spinner five years ago.

The experienced Gareth Batty's departure and return to Surrey at the end of the 2009 campaign left Worcestershire without a number one spinner.

But, instead of seeking a readymade replacement, Rhodes had seen enough glimpses of potential with the ball in a then 22-year-old Moeen who had moved to New Road from Warwickshire two years earlier.

Now in 2014 that belief in the all-rounder has been more than justified with Moeen returning career-best figures of 6-67 in the third Investec Test win over India at the Ageas Bowl on Thursday.

Former county paceman Mason, who is also Worcestershire's assistant coach, said: "It is great to see what Mo is now doing with England but massive credit has to go to Steve Rhodes.

"He put a lot of faith in Mo's ability to become a good spinner all those years ago (in 2009) and he has come on leaps and bounds.

"It was around that 2009-2010 time we got promoted into the First Division and a lot of people raised an eyebrow and thought 'how can we possibly compete in the Championship without a first choice spinner.'

"It was a brave move, to go into a season without a front-line spinner, but Bumpy (Rhodes) stuck to his guns, as he has done with all the players at Worcestershire over the years, and gave Mo an opportunity."

Mason added: "I was still playing then and we'd seen potential in Mo. He had already proved to us with the bat that he was a talent.

"Spin was something he had dabbled in and most of us thought this guy can bowl.

"I think us senior players could see what Bump was trying to do, the need for the younger players to come through and be given opportunities.

"Worcestershire had a strong seam attack at the time as well so we knew we could be supportive of Moeen when he bowled and not expose him too much, too soon.

It was a perfect time really and Bumpy realised that and it has paid dividends.

"One of Mo's great strengths has been the ability to extract bounce as well. The wickets might not always have turned in those days but they bounced and kept him in the game and kept him encouraged.

"But also Mo's work ethic is second to none, in terms of batting and bowling, and I don't think any of the boys are surprised to see him taking wickets in Test cricket.

"A lot of us have thought it was unfair he was labelled a part-time spinner when he has proven at Worcestershire he is more than that

"Spin is a fine art and he has done so well in such a short space of time."