Mason Crane’s selection for this winter’s Ashes series Down Under rounds off a remarkable year for the Worthing born-and-bred spin bowler.
A winter Down Under in Sydney saw him become the first overseas player capped by New South Wales in more than 30 years, Imran Khan being the previous one. He returned to England for a summer with Hampshire that has seen him force his way into the England scene, his memorable first international wicket AB de Villiers and that amazing catch as 12th man in the Headingly Test against the West Indies.
The Hampshire part is the only aspect of this whole story that leaves a bad taste in the mouth, and that’s no disrespect to anyone at the Ageas Bowl. They have nurtured and honed Mason into the player he is and will go on to be, but only because Sussex decided seven years or so ago that Mason wasn’t up to it.
Sport, like life, is all about opinions, and all sports are littered with examples of when the ‘experts’ got it wrong. From Jimmy Hill telling a teenage Kevin Keegan he was too small to play for Coventry to Johnny Nelson going from a perceived boxing joke and box office bomb to a long standing world cruiserweight champion.
Whoever made the decision at Sussex will have to live with it for the rest of their career. These things happen but for the sake of the long-term future of Sussex cricket, let’s hope it doesn’t happen again.
Crane, supported by his parents, took his Hove exit with good grace, and when the opportunity at Hampshire arrived fairly quickly, got his head down and worked hard, and the results speak for themselves.
What an example to youngsters everywhere, not just in sport but in life.
Rejection doesn’t have to be the end. Granted it’s the end of one particular journey, but it proves with hard work and dedication, and perhaps the key with Mason, self belief, coupled with amazing support he’s had from his family, there’s always another route.
And I hope when anyone locally watches Mason play at the highest level, they not only enjoy his performances, but remember the journey he’s been on. Perhaps even recalling the words of Angelo Dundee, Muhammad Ali’s legendary trainer, “A setback is merely a set up for a comeback”.
Personally, knowing him, I’m buoyed by the fact is in a genuinely nice lad, who not only excels at what he does but will never forget where he’s come from.
From the playing fields of Thomas A Becket Middle to the MCG, not even Roy of the Rovers ever managed that!
Mason, before you depart to Australia, if I could impart two bits of advice.
1) Enjoy every single moment, remember this is not a rehearsal, we’re only here once.
2) Nightclubs and Ben Stokes, best give it a swerve...
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