Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Matt Mason: Fifteen Years At New Road Part Two

Matt Mason is celebrating 15 years at New Road – and says current Worcestershire Director Of Cricket Steve Rhodes has been the biggest influence on his coaching career.

In the same way as Tom Moody was a massive help with his playing years and his move to Worcestershire, Mason cites the importance of Rhodes since he hung up his spikes five years ago.

Here Worcestershire's current Assistant Coach-Bowling Coach looks back at the highlights of his playing career and making the move into coaching in part two of a Question And Answer Session with the Worcestershire CCC website.


Question: What were the personal highlights of your playing career, the 8-48 against Gloucestershire?

Matt Mason: "I enjoyed the Gloucs game because I remembering contributing with the bat as well in a partnership to get us a small lead and then to come in and get eight wickets and bowl them out was a real highlight.

"My biggest thing was playing two Lord's finals. It seems crazy because we lost them both to the same team (Gloucestershire) but it meant I got to play in two terrific semi-finals and then go and play at Lord's, something not many people get to do especially on a big occasion like that.

"To have that opportunity to play in a final, and let's be honest Lord's finals are very important, was a great thing for me and a massive highlight for me.

"Also being around when the game changed with the advent of T20. It was nice to see the revolution that was happening and now I'm coaching in it."


Question: How did you find T20 cricket in the early days?

Matt Mason: "I had some good times in T20 and some pretty ordinary times! As a batter, I had a 10 ball duck as a pinch hitter against Gloucestershire.

"I got put in and I remember Vikram Solanki coming down the wicket after eight balls and saying 'for goodness sake, just tread on your stumps and get off the ground!'

"I wasn't very successful higher up the order. I was suited better down the bottom where I could have a bit of fun and have a giggle almost. I was the sort who chanced my arm and sometimes it came off but I always enjoyed batting."


Question: Were you similar in that way to Jack Shantry?

Matt Mason: "I'd like to think I'm a little bit more orthodox than him with bat and ball. But one thing he has got over me is I have never got a hundred!"


Question: How did the transition from the playing to the coaching side come about?

Matt Mason: "Bumpy (Steve Rhodes) was brilliant because he helped that happen but I had my first major shoulder operation in 2008 and I wasn't going to take much part in that season.

"I had an interest in coaching and Kevin Shine and Gordon Lord had both been in my ear about it being something I maybe should pursue.

"The club thankfully knew I wasn't going to have much of a role that year as a player and could easily have said 'bye bye' to me there and then, I guess, but they didn't and they have always been very loyal to me.

"They said 'we'd like you to stay around and, while you are rehabilitating, let's get some coaching out of you.'

"I carried on like a player-coach role until I retired in 2011, which was difficult trying to balance the two, but then thankfully again when I retired, the club saw me potentially as a coach and they gave me that great opportunity.

"The most important thing for me, I was always going to move into coaching – but I wanted to do it here because this has always been my club and I never wanted to go anywhere else. I was just thankful I got that chance."


Question: Did you get your badges while you were still playing?

Matt Mason: I got my Level 3 and completed my Level 4 coaching a couple of years ago and again the club were great in supporting me and giving me time to do that because I learnt plenty – and I'm still learning plenty.

"Coaching is like playing really, you don't stop learning about the game or the people you are working with. I absolutely love it.

"I did some work with England Women, I did some work with their Development Programme, I still do some stuff with Kevin Shine now.

"I think it is important as a bowling coach that you keep up to speed with everything that is going on in the world of fast bowling.

"But I've also enjoyed in the last couple of years that Bumpy has given me the chance to be the assistant coach as well.

"I reckon he has had more influence on my coaching career than anybody because he has been so open to teaching me everything.

"Like I had to thank Tom Moody for my playing opportunity, I've got to thank Bumpy for my coaching opportunity and the way that has been developing because he has been terrific and very supportive."


Question: How did you enjoy the extra resonsibility when Steve Rhodes was on Lions-England duty?

Matt Mason: "I absolutely loved doing and one thing I would say about Bumpy is, as long as you are prepared to work hard and get stuck in, he is very much about letting you find your own way and giving you that responsibility and challenging you I suppose.

"That's why I enjoy working with Bumpy so much. We do have our conferences, we do have our different opinions on things but ultimately I'm learning from him. I still think he learns a little bit from me sometimes as well so we have a good partnership."