Matt Mason Interview - "We Are Training Very Well"
After exciting times last year, you must be looking forward to be getting back onto dry land and getting stuck in?
Very much so, it was a tough season for everybody at Worcestershire near the end of last season with all the flooding, but to be back their now and to have played a couple of games on the square last week is very encouraging for everyone involved. It is an exciting time for the club, probably more so than in previous years due to what we went through. Now we are just looking forward to getting the season underway on the 16th with the floods hopefully staying away!
Hopefully they will. Particularly for the county, have you guys been training well and what have you been doing?
We are training very well and have also got a few great new additions to our squad. Obviously the big one that everyone will know is Simon Jones who was previously at Glamorgan but he will be a great signing for our club. He will help strengthen the bowling department that was a bit weak for us last year. Jones is looking fit and healthy, with ideas of getting his England place back. Also we have the likes of Chris Whelan who is a young fast bowler from Middlesex and Gareth Andrew from Somerset who will once again strengthen the weak area from last year. We are looking to use this new look attack and push through from division two and back into top flight cricket as last year was a bit of a disaster when it came to Championship cricket.
With the ground troubles last year, did you have to go to many local grounds and play, which in the process brought the county together and saw more cricket spectators for Worcestershire?
It did yes, about 6-7 years ago was my first season at Worcester and was the last time we played an official game at Kidderminster, a club ground. I thought it was a terrific day as people got the marquise out and it really had a festival feel to it. With the flooding we went and played a bit there last year, it was a different atmosphere to New Road but enjoyable. With people living a far distance away, it is good that we will be going to them to play games at places such as Cheltenham and allow people to watch more competitive cricket.
What are your thoughts on having to adapt between different forms of the game, most noticeably the publicised Twenty20 cricket?
Most definitely, with the Twenty20 take off happening, Counties are looking to build more of those vital skills into their squad. Sometimes it will mean that they will have to get in players who are specifically designed for that role and game. I think that the modern professional cricket has to be able to adapt and play in all forms of the game. Certainly at Worcester we have guys who can do that. We showed that we can play good one day cricket as we won the Pro40, which was a great result so we can change our styles of cricket yet our team stays pretty much the same in all formats.
Do you find it good to see youngsters coming to the game, filling the crowd up and watching some entertaining cricket?
I think it is great and people want to see more and more people playing cricket. If the Twenty20 brings more youth attention to cricket then that’s brilliant and it can be expended upon into the longer formats. It is certainly working as we are seeing bigger crowds, I have actually spent the last three months in Australia and the Twenty20 competitions are really taking off over their too.
With the bigger crowds and more emphasis on the Twenty20, do you think it makes the players feel the need to play the game within the right manners and show good sportsmanship?
With high pressure situations anything can happen, so it is important for all players to conduct themselves correctly on and off the field – with so much more media interest in the Twenty20. We all saw in the Australia v India series how it can all go wrong when the pressure gets to you and it was not played in the right way. Through all my years in county cricket I can say that the game is played in the correct manor but it is still play hard on the field against your opponents even if days like today we are very friendly and all know each other. Twenty20 is no different, it’s all hard action on the pitch but we are friends off it.