Matches (14)
WI v BDESH (1)
ENG v NZ (1)
South Africa Women in England (1)
IND-W in SL (1)
County DIV1 (4)
County DIV2 (3)
IRE v IND (2)
IND in ENG (1)
Feature

Matt Mason brings Midas touch from Western Australia to Warwickshire

Trophy-winning bowling coach has mentored Cameron Green and transformed AJ Tye's career

Alex Malcolm
06-Apr-2022
Matt Mason (left) chats to Perth Scorchers coach Adam Voges

Matt Mason (left) chats to Perth Scorchers coach Adam Voges  •  Getty Images

Western Australia's loss is Warwickshire's gain. Just days after celebrating an extraordinary treble-winning season in Australia domestic cricket, WA and Perth Scorchers bowling coach Matt Mason is headed to Edgbaston to take up the same position at Warwickshire.
Mason, 48, who is a West Australian having started his first-class playing career in WA in 1996, is returning to England for family reasons having spent 20 years playing and coaching with Worcestershire and Leicestershire in county cricket before moving his family to Perth to join WA and the Scorchers in 2019.
"It's a bittersweet decision, to be honest," Mason told ESPNcricinfo. "I love my job here [in WA]. I love this group of bowlers. But I have to put my family first.
"Warwickshire is a great county. Edgbaston is a great ground. I'll get my teeth into some bowling talent in a role that I'm sure will be exciting.
"But I certainly will be sad to leave here and to leave this group of bowlers because I've really gelled with them and felt like there's a lot more we could achieve. It's a tough call. But it's one I needed to make."
Normally such a coaching move would not be hugely significant. Coaches move between Australian and English domestic cricket regularly, with Mason one of several Australia-born coaches taking up new posts in England this northern summer.
But Mason's loss to WA and Australian cricket will be more keenly felt than most. His impact in three short years is undeniable having worked closely with WA's production of fast bowlers including Cameron Green, Jhye Richardson, Jason Behrendorff, and AJ Tye.
Mason has had the Midas touch. The bowlers have raved about his passion, his teaching style, and his technical nous. He has helped all four return from their injury woes to play for Australia, with Green's golden summer perhaps his greatest achievement.
He has also won rave reviews from interim Australia coach Andrew McDonald, who he collaborated with closely on Green's development at Test level while McDonald was Australia's bowling coach. McDonald was keen to get Mason involved in the Australian set-up on an interim basis for the Pakistan tour but it was not possible given Mason's commitment to move home to England.
The pair share a similar philosophy on coaching. "I've always said good coaches make themselves redundant because the players start to drive their own development," Mason said. "The player is the centerpiece and that's what everyone has to remember as well about the coach, it's all about the player.
"I struck up a fantastic relationship with Andrew McDonald. We just share ideas. I challenge his thinking, he challenges mine, but we know it's not done in a way other than to help Greeny. We had some really great conversations. He's taught me plenty. I've taught him a few things and in between, we just make sure Greeny only hears what he needs to.
"I think Greeny also, as the player, really appreciates knowing that that communication is open and that he's got a couple of guys that are really there to support him. Even though I'm moving on, I've had a great message from Macca saying we'll definitely stay in touch around the big fella."
Mason has a strong philosophy on injury prevention for his bowlers which has been emphasised in his work with Green and Behrendorff, who have both fought their way back from multiple stress fractures, with the latter having spinal fusion surgery in 2019.
"We can't compromise safety for ball speed or these other things because they don't get to play cricket and suddenly they're out of the game," Mason said. "It is possible to bowl with good pace and high performance but from a safe position. I go back to one simple message and it's about balance.
"Cricket is a balanced game, whether you bat, throw, field or bowl your body wants to be upright and wants to be balanced. So we make sure, and I make sure I coach all those elements to ensure that throughout the phases of the bowling action that body is upright, in a balanced position, and it won't get hurt. And ultimately, it makes sense to bowl from that position because you're accurate and consistent."
"I challenge these guys to take wickets. Be braver. Pitch the ball up."
Matt Mason
But Mason's impact has gone beyond injury prevention. He helped Tye add some ball speed through a minor action change that saw him star in the BBL final, taking 3 for 15 against Sydney Sixers, and in the Marsh Cup final against New South Wales where he was player of the match, taking 4 for 30. Tye has also returned to the IPL and played the first two games with Lucknow Super Giants, after playing just one game in the previous two seasons.
"When I first mentioned to AJ how I thought I could put on 5kph of speed he looked at me like I was from another planet," Mason said. "And he resisted at first. But all I ask is that they dip a toe and if they do dip a toe, commit to it, and let's at least have a try before we don't proceed. He dipped a toe and suddenly there was 5kph.
"In the last two seasons he's been absolutely phenomenal in our T20 stuff and he has been able to bowl that bit quicker and it's given him a bit of a new lease of life in his career."
Mason's philosophy on lengths in first-class cricket has also paid dividends with WA quicks Joel Paris and Aaron Hardie rewarded for pitching the ball up at the WACA in the Sheffield Shield final, taking three wickets apiece.
"I challenge these guys to take wickets," Mason said. "Be braver. Pitch the ball up. Even if it's not swinging, bring the stumps into play more and more regularly."
If he can have a similar impact on the likes of Olly Stone and Chris Woakes, Mason's arrival at Edgbaston will be welcomed not only by Warwickshire supporters, but by England fans too.

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo