MATT Mason says he has nothing but “fantastic memories” after ending his 17-year spell with Worcestershire as a player and coach.

The 43-year-old is to become head bowling coach at Leicestershire but insists Worcestershire “will always be close to my heart”.

He first linked up with the County in 2001 after being signed by then director of cricket Tom Moody and enjoyed a successful time with the ball.

Mason has been bowling coach for nine seasons and helped develop the current crop of young fast bowling talent at the County, including Josh Tongue, George Scrimshaw, Pat Brown, Dillon Pennington and Adam Finch.

But the Australian, who was to be second XI coach this summer as part of the new structure at Blackfinch New Road, will instead take up a new post at Leicestershire.

Mason said: “I have had 17 fantastic years at Worcestershire and experienced a lot as a player and a coach and will always retain great memories of the club.

“I have had a great relationship with members, supporters, players, coaches and staff and made some great friends.

“There are some fantastic things to cherish, as a player two Lord’s finals, winning the Pro40 League and a couple of Dick Lygon Awards.

“Then as a coach, the joy of a few promotions and working with the fast bowlers of which the current young group have fantastic potential.

“Worcestershire will always be close to my heart. I am going to continue to live in Worcester and I wish the club well but now I am looking forward to the fresh challenge at Leicestershire.”

New head coach Kevin Sharp said: “Mase has been a great servant to this club as both a player and then as a coach for the past 16 to 17 years.

“He has been a key part of the considerable success enjoyed by Worcestershire during the years.

“Matt has played a very important part in the development of the crop of young bowlers coming through at the club.

“I wish him every success in whatever path he now chooses to take and thank him once again for his efforts here.”

Worcestershire chairman Stephen Taylor said: “I can only thank Matt immensely for all that he has done for the club in his time here.

“He was a fine bowler in his own right for Worcestershire, taking 50 wickets in a season on several occasions.

“He then passed on his experiences to great effect when taking on a coaching role here.

“Matt will always be welcome back at New Road and everyone wishes him every success in the future.”

Mason picked up 314 first-class wickets for the County at an average of 26.91.

The right armer topped the 50-wicket mark for three successive seasons and was frugal in terms of runs per over conceded with his nagging line and length.

Mason missed most of the 2007 and 2008 campaigns with a shoulder setback but during this time started to learn coaching skills.

He undertook a dual role as player-bowling coach from 2009.

Mason’s 31 wickets at 27.38 helped the County to promotion in 2010 before he announced his retirement midway through the following season and took over the coaching role full-time.

He has linked up with the ECB Pace Programme, which includes Scrimshaw, for a two-week training camp in South Africa.