Mason warms up for Indian tour

Michael Mason, the New Zealand fast bowler, has a head start on his team-mates. He has spent a week and some in India, getting used to the conditions, training with Dennis Lillee at the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai. In a chat with the Hindu newspaper, Mason revealed that the trip had been an eye-opener: "The heat here was a bit of a shock really, but I got used to it. There is so much one can learn from Lillee. This trip has been extremely useful."

After an uneventful few days at the camp, taking extra precautions, Mason tucked into some of the local cuisine, and no doubt lager, and was laid low with dehydration. Treated with electral and similar rehydrating fluids, he was up and about in a jiffy.

Mason, although a late bloomer - he made his first class debut at 23 - has caught the eye of the selectors. A strong performance against the Indians in a side match last year got Mason a call up to the national squad. However, he was not picked to play a Test match. Undeterred, he enjoyed the experience: "It was just wonderful being in the squad."

Mason's strength is the natural bounce and swing he generates. "My strength is my outswing. I generally tend to swing the delivery away and seam it in." Lillee, too, has encouraging words for Mason: "He is lively, swings the ball and bowls a steady line and length. He could be useful."

Useful is all very well, but the Indians will be very glad they have to deal with the decidedly gentle Mason rather than the lethal Shane Bond when New Zealand travel to India soon.