Matt Mason has been chosen to help coach England’s next generation of quick bowlers this winter via the ECB Pace Programme.
The Worcestershire Assistant Coach-Bowling Coach will link up with and assist one of his mentors in ECB lead fast bowling coach Kevin Shine at various camps including two weeks at Potchefstroom in South Africa and a fortnight at Desert Springs in Southern Spain.
It is recognition of the sterling work Mason has done at New Road in helping to produce the crop of promising pacemen including Josh Tongue, George Scrimshaw, Pat Brown, Dillon Pennington and Adam Finch.
Tongue and Scrimshaw are amongst the bowlers selected to be part of the Pace Programme (see separate story).
And Mason hopes the Pace Programme experience will aid him in his own development as a coach and provide him with additional knowledge he can impart to the County’s battery of bowlers.
There will be another Worcestershire connection involved with the Pace Programme in the form of Ben Langley who will be the physiotherapist.
Mason said: “I’ve done some work with Shiney in the past and it’s a really good opportunity to get into another enviroment, learn from other coaches, come into contact with bowlers that have been selected that are seen as the next generation of England bowlers.
“I guess it’s nice to have a bit of recognition as well that my work with the bowlers here at Worcestershire has been noticed by people because I take a lot of pride in what I try and do here with the bowling group.
“To be asked to get involved with any sort of England Programme is a really good opportunity and I’m looking forward to it.
“The whole programme runs over the winter months. There is stuff up at Loughborough before Christmas that I won’t be too heavily involved in, basically all the strengthening and conditioning work and the odd bit of testing here and there.
“Then there is a two week tour to Potchefstroom in South Africa (and Desert Springs) where we go out there and have quite an intensive period working with the bowlers, strength training and craft work, technical work, all those sorts of things.
“Then it carries on right up to mid March so it won’t interfere too much with my work at Worcestershire but there will be odd days and the time in South Africa that will take up the bulk of my time.”
Mason is the latest member of the Worcestershire coaching dynasty to receive recognition for their work.
Director Of Cricket Steve Rhodes was part of the England Lions coaching set-up in the winter of 2015-2016 and then for the two Tests in Bangladesh 12 months ago.
Batting Coach-Second Kevin Sharp assisted with England’s preparations for the Second Investec Test with South Africa at Trent Bridge this summer and Academy Coach Elliot Wilson coached the triumphant Midlands side in the Super Fours.
Mason said: “As players, you always aspire to work up as high as you can and as coaches, it isn’t any different.
“These opportunities don’t always come along and it’s my first real opportunity to do something like this although I’ve done a bit of coaching in the past with the England Women.
“I’m very passionate about fast bowling and that is what this programme is all about so not only will I have a very good time, I’m sure I’ll get some great information I can bring back to this club, use potentially with our own bowling group.
“It also helps me as a coach to develop because it is important as coaches we do that as much as players.
“We get good contact time and it will be a chance to mix and throw ideas around with other coaching staff and players, just a real melting pot of information about fast bowling.
“I think I will come out of it having learnt a lot.”
Mason admits Shine has been a big influence and help to his coaching career.
He said: “I’m really looking forward to catching up with him again and I always enjoy my time with Shiney because he has been a mentor of mine ever since I started coaching.
“In 2008 when I went through my big shoulder operation, it was Shiney who sowed the seeds in my mind about becoming a coach.
“He knew I was passionate about it, he encouraged me to do it, he got me involved in a Level Three programme and it went from there.
“He has always been on the end of the phone and when I see him at the grounds, we always talk bowling and it will be great to work with him.”