Friday, April 8th, 2016

Mason: County Will Reap Benefits Of Strong Competition Amongst Bowlers

Mason: County Will Reap Benefits Of Strong Competition Amongst Bowlers

Bowling coach Matt Mason says Worcestershire will reap the benefits of strong competition for places in their seam attack this summer.

Matt Henry, Jack Shantry, Charlie Morris, Joe Leach, Ed Barnard, Josh Tongue and Chris Russell will be vying for spots in the side as the County prepare for Sunday's Specsavers County Championship opener with Kent at New Road.

It is a contrast to last summer when Shantry, Leach and Morris bowled the bulk of the overs and between them ended up with 160 Championship wickets.

Overseas signing Henry, a physically stronger Barnard, the up and coming Tongue, who impressed on his debut against MCCU, and Russell being keen to reignite his first team career will be also in the mix for spots in the side.

Mason says this will enable them to rest and rotate players to ensure the County have a potent attack all summer and do not run out of steam at the tail-end of the campaign.

He said: "It is a nice selection headache. Absolutely. Josh Tongue has already shown us at Oxford that he could fit into the side quite comfortably and Chris Russell is also chomping at the bit to get back into that side and reignite his career.

"It is a nice place to be in. I love the competition for places. It is great and we are also in a position if we need be to pull someone out and give them a rest so we don't have the end of season fade-out on the back of a heavy workload for the lads last year."

Mason added: "There will be someone disappointed at the start of the season but that's the way it goes and it has made the pre-season very competitive.

"I think they all know for the first time in a couple of years they just can't walk into the side.

"They are going to have to earn their place through their performances. For me that is a healthy enviroment.

"The one thing I would say is that the group is very close knit so I can see there being lots of support even from the guys that miss out.

"Likewise, they will be keeping their challenge up to get back into the team so I think it is a really good place."

Mason said the squad is raring to go after five days practice against Oxford MCCU and Warwickshire during the past week has seen the majority of batsmen score runs and the bowlers get overs under their belt.

He said: "We've had five really good days actually, firstly at Oxford, three terrific days there when we got a lot of cricket in, and then the same at Edgbaston where we didn't lose too much cricket to the weather.

"The guys have hit their straps really.I was certainly very happy with the bowling group. They were looking better and better the more we went and the batsman had some valuable time in the middle.

"Hopefully, we can get another day or two in of practice before Sunday but at this stage if it wasn't to happen, I'd be fairly happy about where we are.

"For the guys who have been here all winter, it (the season) couldn't come around quick enough and for the guys who have been abroad playing, they want to be back playing.

"We are excited to get cracking. The winters these days seem a lot longer than they used to be because we know we are indoors from about November so everyone is excited at the start of the season."

Worcestershire and all the other counties will have to contend with the change to the 'toss' rue which means the away side can decide if they want to bowl first.

Mason said: "I think it is a tricky one because, with only one place for promotion up for grabs, a lot of teams will look to bowl first this summer and try and force wins and get themselves in a position to get a flying start.

"It's going to be tricky but it's no different to the start of any season. You often get stuck in so we just have to bat really well."