Mason bows out after stirring win

CRICKET - GEORGE HEAGNEY
Last updated 12:00 14/02/2012
Bowler Mike Mason
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ
PULLING STUMPS: Bowler Mike Mason has retired from playing first-class cricket after helping Central Districts win the one-day final on Sunday.

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In a career of numerous highlights, pace bowler Mike Mason labelled the one-day final win against Auckland the most emotional after playing his last game for Central Districts on Sunday.

The 37-year-old signed off on his Central Districts career after helping win the final against Auckland by two wickets, one of his favourite domestic cricket memories.

"The first one-day win down in Christchurch against Canterbury down there," he said. "Hitting the winning runs for the Black Caps against Sri Lanka, that one was right up there. Winning a four-day competition at the Basin Reserve, the first one we won there. We bowled them out twice. Some pretty special moments.

"A trip to the World Cup with the Black Caps is something you don't do every day, but that [one-day final] was probably the most emotional one."

While his time with Central Districts was over, he wasn't giving the game away completely and would still play at representative level and below.

"I think I'll stick to the region, Manawatu and club stuff," he said. "I want to keep competing."

Mason debuted for Central Districts in November 1997 against Otago and his international debut was against Pakistan in Lahore in November 2003.

He played 26 one-day internationals for New Zealand, one test and three Twenty20 internationals but he never managed to earn a regular spot in the Black Caps.

"There's no regrets there. The way it's panned out, you can't look back and regret the other stuff with the New Zealand games."

His best international bowling came against Sri Lanka in 2006 when he took four for 24 in a four-wicket New Zealand victory.

Earlier this season, Mason came out of four-day retirement after a Central Districts injury crisis, but he couldn't see it happening again.

"I said I don't want to play. I'll play if four bowlers break down and they've got no-one left." He won't be turning out for his club Freyberg just yet; he planned on spending time with his wife and two children and he had applied for a couple of jobs. "I need a rest. I'm actually pretty tired and most of the body's a bit sore."

Even though Mason has called it a day, Central Districts still have a strong Manawatu presence in the bowling lineup with Bevan Small and Adam Milne, who Mason said were players for the future, trying to nail down a spot.

In the one-day final on Sunday, Mason came to the crease with Central Districts needing 58 runs to win and with only two wickets in hand, but Mason, batting at 10, teamed up with Martin Kain to steal the win from Auckland.

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"You couldn't have scripted it any better," Mason said. "I didn't expect to win it like that; only in your dreams. But it was a special way to leave the game."

After 134 one-day games for the Stags, Mason only averaged 10.26 with the bat, but believed he could do the job when he went to the crease, making 41 not out from 19 balls including two sixes.

"I've always had it in me," he said.

- Manawatu Standard

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