Thursday, Sep 04, 2003
Front Page |
Southern States |
Other States |
Advts: Classifieds | Employment | Obituary |
By S. Dinakar
Michael James Mason at MRF Pace Foundation.
"When you are hunting, you always look for the big one," he says.
A member of the New Zealand Test squad that will arrive in India later this month, the Central Districts paceman had a rather early look at the Indian conditions, while undergoing a stint at the MRF Pace Foundation, under Aussie legend Dennis Lillee.
"The heat here was a bit of a shock really, but I got used to it," the 29-year-old Mason told The Hindu, on Wednesday. "There is so much one can learn from Lillee. This trip has been extremely useful."
The Mason story is an interesting one. A rather late developer, it was not until he was 23 that he turned out for his first class game; prior to that, his job as a lab assistant in a Napier dairy factory had not left Mason with too much time for cricket.
He has made up somewhat for lost time though. Mason was included in the Kiwi Test squad for the two-Test series against India at home late last year, following an impressive display in the tour game at Napier, where Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly were his victims in the first innings.
That was a game where Mason, 6 `5 in height, swung the ball away from the right hander, achieving natural bounce. It was a performance that earned him words of praise from the Kiwi chairman of selectors Sir Richard Hadlee.
Mason eventually failed to make the eleven for both Tests, but relished being a part of the Kiwi side. "It was just wonderful being in the squad," he said. He was in a mean mood in the domestic circuit, his best display being a 11-wicket match haul against Canterbury.
The injury to spearhead Shane Bond, which ruled him out of the Tests in India, has provided Mason with another chance to achieve the `breakthrough.' Daryl Tuffey, Jacob Oram, Ian Butler, and Kyle Mills, are the other pacemen in the squad.
"My strength is my outswing. I generally tend to swing the delivery away and seam it in," he said. Mason realises well that the tour of India would be a challenging one, on pitches that are likely to be unhelpful to the pacemen.
Actually, he has a liking for the Indian batsmen. Central Districts scored a surprise win over the Indians at Napier in '99 and that was a match, where Mason had Sachin Tendulkar caught at first slip with an away going delivery. "That was a prize one. The wicket that I cherish the most," admits Mason.
He unwinds by trekking in the forests and the hills of the Kaikoura and Rauhine parks. "It is so quiet over there. So relaxing. There are times when the clouds close in that you are hardly able to see beyond 50 metres. You lose your sense of direction. But it is worth it."
Mason soon will have a mountain of another kind to climb in India. Lillee believes the affable Kiwi has it in him to deliver. "He is lively, swings the ball and bowls a steady line and length. He could be useful," says the Aussie legend.
The hunter will be on the prowl in India. For Mason, it could well be make-or-break time.
The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | The Sportstar | Frontline | The Hindu eBooks | Home |
Copyright © 2003, The
Hindu. Republication or redissemination of the contents of
this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of