County news July 23, 2013

Mascarenhas gives up injury struggle

Ivo Tennant

When Dimitri Mascarenhas, who has had to give up his perennial struggle with injuries and who will retire at the end of the season, made his first-class debut in 1996, it was a heady time indeed for Hampshire. The previous week, Liam Botham had taken 5 for 67 on his first appearance. Now, another teenage medium pacer, one whose name the club could not spell correctly, returned still more impressive figures.

Nobody present, fortunately not even Mascarenhas himself, can recall the name provided to the media in the cramped old press box at Northlands Road - but they do remember his bowling. At a brisk medium pace, the 18-year-old who was born in London of Sri Lankan parentage and raised in Australia, took six Glamorgan wickets for 88, the best analysis by a Hampshire bowler making his debut since 1899.

When Mascarenhas read the glowing press reports the next day, he was baffled as to the nomenclature given him. Vic Isaacs, the long-serving Hampshire scorer, was more accustomed to chalking straightforward names such as James, Smith and White.

"This was not the last time my name was spelled wrong," Mascarenhas said at the Ageas Bowl, having come to the conclusion that the state of his Achilles tendon would not permit him to continue in the game. In first-class matches he has taken 450 wickets and scored 6,495 runs, but he will be remembered best for his ability in one day cricket, not least his cunning changes of pace and length in Twenty20.

This was recognised by England, for whom he made 14 Twenty20 appearances as well as 20 One Day Internationals. The highlight was five sixes in an over off Yuvraj Singh at the Oval in 2007. "The changes the ECB are making to the fixture list have played a part in the ending of my career," he said. "If the Twenty20 fixtures were going to be in a block next year, like they are now, then it would be a no-brainer to continue playing that. But my Achilles would not cope with cricket all summer."

So Mascarenhas will finish his level three coaching badge and discuss options with Rod Bransgrove, the Hampshire chairman and a friend. "I remember having a beer with him during my second match for the club and the fact that we moved grounds was entirely down to him. He loves Hampshire and is desperate for us to do well. Every time I speak to the England boys they tell me how great the pitches are now. An Ashes Test on the south coast is a certainty."

Mascarenhas remains particularly grateful to Bransgrove for giving him the opportunity to play in the IPL, the first England player to do so, in 2009, although this year his appearances amounted to one match for King's XI Punjab. The state of his body had nothing to do with this. "Darren Lehmann did not really rate me," he said. Still, his IPL coach could have done with him playing under different colours this summer.

If the IPL beckons him again next year, Mascarenhas will be tempted. Otherwise, he will finish for good in September, return to Australia for the winter - Paul Terry's academy in Perth, where he once learnt the game, is one possible location where he might do some coaching - but will retain his house in West End, just two minutes' drive from Hampshire's headquarters.

Shane Warne, his old captain and another friend, knew he was about to retire and sent his best wishes. "I've had a very happy time with Hampshire and now I feel I have a lot to offer as a bowling coach. I know how to bowl. But I'll give anything a try."

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  • Samuel on July 24, 2013, 9:19 GMT

    A fine, canny bowler, especially in limited overs games, and an extraordinary biffer of a batsman. Always wondered what he was doing with the first ball of the over he hit five sixes - he could've gone for all six!

  • Mike on July 24, 2013, 7:28 GMT

    Fine cricketer. I couldn't make out why his short-form England career ended so abruptly.

  • John on July 23, 2013, 20:41 GMT

    I wonder if he'd have played more shorter format cricket for England had he not said a few unsubtle things. Decent player - shame he's forced to retire

  • Dummy4 on July 23, 2013, 20:29 GMT

    A part of Hampshire' s spine for 17 years. Good luck Dimi, you have been an unstinting servant to the club, and I hope you get a golden send off. It would be fantastic of course, if you stayed on in some capacity. ..

  • Charlie on July 23, 2013, 19:25 GMT

    Arguably indirectly responsible for Yuvraj's 6x6s in an over off Broad in the first T20 World Cup after his 5x6s off him earlier in the year. Very effective limited overs player in all facets.

  • jim on July 23, 2013, 18:25 GMT

    You will be sorely missed Dimi.Good all rounder and loyal servant to the club.Wish him all the best in his retirement

  • Philip on July 23, 2013, 18:14 GMT

    I wouldn't mind betting that Darren Lehmann would rate him now if he was an Australian, looking at how Australia has performed in the Ashes Tests so far.

  • Dummy4 on July 23, 2013, 16:44 GMT

    A great servant to Hampshire who will be very much missed.

  • Dummy4 on July 23, 2013, 15:40 GMT

    I see Dimitri as a very natural and talented cricketer who did not lived up to his full potential. He was a natural athlete. His 5 sixes at the oval was his best innings and change the mental approach of batsmen in the shorter game. Also this innings was made in the pre IPL era where consecutive sixes were non existence (except Jayasuriya).Thanks for the entertainment Dimi. Good luck.

  • Mathew on July 23, 2013, 15:11 GMT

    Looked really impressive in the games he played against India. I particularly remember one match in which he hit Yuvraj Singh for 5 sixes. I thought then that this guy must be a close friend of Staurt Broad and may be its pay back time for Yuvraj! All the best to Mascarenhas.

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