Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Matt Mason: 15 Years At New Road Part One

Matt Mason has clocked up 15 years with Worcestershire as player and coach since he was given his chance to move from Australia to these shores by the then Director Of Cricket Tom Moody.

The former paceman admits he owes a big debt to Moody for showing faith in him after a less than prolific time with Western Australia in offering him the chance to come to New Road.

Even then Mason needed some initial persuading to take up the offer – but it is one he has not regretted after a decade and a half with the County.

Here the current Bowling Coach-Assistant Coach looks back over those 15 years in part one of a Question and Answer Session with the Worcestershire CCC website.


Question: How did you get chance to come here?

Matt Mason: "If you think about it, I almost didn't come here because when Tom Moody first offered me the opportunity, I turned it down.

"Having tasted a little bit of first class cricket with Western Australia, and having limited opportunities, I came over here to play a season of club cricket in Lincolnshire with my brother.

"It was more just for a bit of fun before going back to the real world and realising that cricket wasn't for me.

"It was there that Tom got wind of the fact I had an Irish passport which meant I could play first class cricket over here as a 'local' which I had never even considered.

"He caught up with me back in Perth and offered me the chance to come and play at Worcestershire and I said 'thank you but no thank you'

"I thought if I didn't make it in Western Australia then I'm not going to make it.

"It wasn't until he collared me again that same summer in Perth a few weeks later when I was playing grade cricket for my side Wanneroo that I reconsidered.

"I had a good chat with the family and decided maybe it was worth upping from Perth and coming over here and giving it a go.

"I was more about 'do I really want to leave my friends and family and everything I knew behind' but I guess at the end of the day I loved cricket so much that I had to give it a go and it turned out it was probably the best decision I made."


Question: Clearly Tom Moody was a big influence for you?

Matt Mason: "He was captain of my grade side in Perth. I played all my junior cricket for Midland-Guildford. We had a strong side, we had four or five international representatives, Simon Katich and myself came through as juniors together.

"Then Tom became my captain for Western Australia in the few games I had there and he was Director Of Cricket at Worcestershire.

"He has been a big influence and I've a lot to thank him for because he gave me that second chance a lot of people don't get.

"I've always followed what he has done since he moved away from Worcestershire and I've got a lot to thank Tom Moody for."


Question: You quickly established yourself as a first teamer at New Road?

Matt Mason: "Tom thought the nature of me as a bowler would suit English conditions. I think he was right – a bit of swing, a bit of bounce, lively enough pace when I first came here and I just loved the fact that in county cricket you lived and breathed cricket.

"Everyone says how hard it is, that you play so much, but if you love cricket, that is what you want to do so for me it was never a hardship to come and play.

"I thought I was doing all that I wanted to do almost every day of the week so it was good."


Question: Were the demands of county cricket a shock to the body?

Matt Mason: "I look back and people say I had a few injuries but I only really had one serious injury and that was my shoulder.

"The nature of bowling is you do pick up things but I still played until I was 37 so I still had 10 good years and when I started here I was 26 and my body was fairly resilient.

"It wasn't the physical side of county cricket, it was the mental side, the constant travel, the constant pressures of playing, and that I dealt with pretty well so it was never a problem."


Question: You had one particularly prolific spell of taking 50 plus wickets three seasons in a row?

Matt Mason: "I was never driven by statistics. I didn't worry too much about wickets believe it or not.

"I took my greatest pride from walking off the ground, seeing that I had bowled the most overs and gone for the least amount of runs. That was my driver.

"I wanted to be known as someone who worked really, really hard, never gave up and benefited the team and, if I got wickets, so be it. But I always thought if you bowled enough overs, you were bound to get those wickets.

"It was a good time. It was good to get those performances in."


Question: You bowled a lot of deliveries in that 'corridor of uncertainty'?

Matt Mason: "I kept it very simple. I didn't think too much. I didn't know who I was bowling too half of the time.

"I had a really simple plan of bowling the same ball as often as I could with the odd bouncer and I knew if I did that day in and day out, and did that consistently, I'd get rewarded and if I didn't get rewarded, someone at the other end would. I kept the game itself very simple."


Question: Is there anyone at Worcestershire now who reminds you of that sort of approach?

Matt Mason: "Shants (Jack Shantry) has exactly the same mentality as I did – to just keep bowling top of off stump as often as you can, get what you can out of the surface and just grind the batsmen down.

"Patience is a key. A lot of modern players aren't so patient. They try and get a wicket every ball or try and hit every ball for four. It was a different mindset."

*Tune in to the Worcestershire CCC website for part two of the Matt Mason look back on his career during the next few days.