Ged Scott on the Australian-born bowler with an Irish passport now eligible to play for England...
Worcestershire have made themselves popular with the England and Wales Cricket Board by adding another England-qualified player to their ranks in the form of Matt Mason.
The 31-year-old Australian fast bowler with the Irish passport yesterday received official confirmation that his claim to become English on residential grounds had been approved.
Four years on from his arrival at New Road, Mason, who married his English fiancee Kelly two months ago, has clocked up the required 210 days' residence in this country.
That makes a bit of a contrast to his thinking before his move to England in 2002, when he was at home in Perth and considering giving up cricket.
"I'd made up my mind to stay in Perth and get a real job," Perth-born Mason said. "I was thinking of packing it in. I was only 26 but I didn't really see a future with Western Australia and I wasn't aware of what my opportunities were over here."
A call from Tom Moody, his former Western Australian team-mate, when Hampshire were also taking an interest made up his mind.
"I thought long and hard," said Mason, who has agreed a three-year contract with Worcestershire to the end of the 2008 season. "After talking to Tom, I talked to a few people and I decided to give it one more go.
"I also received a phone call from Hampshire, but I knew a few of the Worcester lads, like Vikram Solanki, who'd played for my club side, Midland-Guildford, back in Perth for a season. I also knew Alamgir Sheriyar and Phil Weston and I thought, 'if ever you're going to make a start, it would be better among friendly faces, making it easier to settle in'."
Having a fellow Western Australian in Moody at the helm at New Road made a big impact. He made Mason realise immediately that he needed to shed a couple of stones to get fit to withstand the rigours of English county cricket.
"I've grown up very quickly," he said. "And I've had to.
Tom Moody would be the first to tell you that, when he was my captain out in Perth, I was a bit of a young upstart who thought he knew it all when it came to playing cricket.
"But he taught me a lot, not only about my cricket, but my whole lifestyle and the way to approach the game. That helped a lot with my comparative success later on in life.
"I disappointed him when I was younger and that was always something that ate away at me, as I've known him since I was 16.
"I first played under him as captain at the age of 22 but I played only three or four Sheffield Shield games in a couple of years and lost my way a bit. To be honest, when Tom first invited me to Worcester, I said 'No'.
"But he still believed in me enough to persuade me. Proving that he was right to give me a chance at Worcester ever since has been a major motivation.
"I know Steve Rhodes will go on to do a great job for the county but Tom was without a doubt the biggest influence on my career and I have to admit I was disappointed to see him go in the middle of last summer."
Under the new distribution formula agreed with the ECB, every county faces financial penalties if they play fewer than nine England-qualified players in any match. Worcestershire chief executive Mark Newton, delighted that Mason is now considered 'English', said: "I'm pleased for both Matt and the club. Matt has settled well in the area, and recently got married to Kelly. He is almost a proper 'Pom' now, so I wonder what would happen if he suddenly found himself selected for next winter's Ashes tour!"
Mason has made it quite clear that, if the chance to play for England came, he would take it, saying: "When I came to Worcester, I'd have probably laughed at it. But, if the chance to play international cricket for England came my way, I hope it wouldn't get laughed at now.
"Even after the Ashes series, I feel a real close affinity with England. From a personal point of view, not just cricket, it's been a great move and meeting Kelly has helped a lot.
"She's from Droitwich and she's got her own business and we haven't decided yet whether to move to Perth when I eventually finish playing or stay here a bit longer."