Matt Mason can't wait for the 2022 Bears vs Rapids Vitality Blast derbies to arrive - and reckons it will be "fun to be on the other side."
The Bears vs Rapids tussles are always standouts in the Blast fixture list and this season as much as ever with the sides due to meet at New Road on June 3 and Edgbaston on June 24.
The game at Edgbaston has the additional lure of being a potential decider this year with just one more game left in the group after it.
On a midsummer Friday night, at the business end of the group stage, added to all the other ingredients of the derby, it promises to be a great Edgbaston occasion. And one with a very different dimension for Mason who spent 17 years as a firm favourite with the Pears but this time will be in the Bears’ camp as bowling coach.
“They are always great contests,” he said. “Every time we played at Edgbaston it was always full of supporters and the Hollies was rocking like it does on T20 Finals Day. It’s an exciting place to be part of and most of all when the Bears meet the Rapids.Matt Mason
“They’ve had some great battles and I think it’s about honours even for the Norman Gifford Trophy over the years. It will be a bit different for me this year but fun to be on the other side.”
The bragging rights have fluctuated between the two sides over the years. Both sides won the encounter on their home territory last season and of 33 Blast duels since 2003, the Bears have a slender ascendancy, having won 18 to the Rapids 15.
Mason has been involved in plenty of derbies as Rapids player and coach and always loved the atmosphere in Birmingham.
“I made my senior debut for Worcester at Edgbaston in a C&G Trophy game,” he said. “I’ve been involved in some great contests there as a player over. I still have nightmares about bowling at Nick Knight – a Warwickshire legend and a really tough guy to bowl at.
“I’ve always respected the Bears, their players and culture. As county champions, they continue to be a powerful force in domestic cricket and, talking to director of cricket Paul Farbrace, it’s clear that he’s hoping for some real strong growth in the white ball game.
“I’ve enjoyed some success with Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League in Australia, so hopefully I can make an impact with the Bears. There is a huge array of bowling talent at the club and, as a bowling coach, that’s really exciting. I’m just looking forward to getting to know all the guys and seeing where I can help them.”
T20 Quarter-Final: Tickets only £10
Birmingham Bears will host Hampshire Hawks at Edgbaston on Thursday 7 July (6.30pn) in the Vitality Blast quarter-finals.
Adult tickets are available from £10, when you buy in advance of the day of the match. Under 12s go FREE and 12 to 15-year-olds are £1. Members and Season Pass holders go FREE.