Cult Heroes: David Masters


In a week which would have seen the team face Kent Spitfires in a Vitality Blast Battle of the Bridge clash at Canterbury, we focus on a player who has played on both side of the bridge.

David Masters is one of our more recent Cult Heroes who’s hard work and grit game after game in an Essex shirt was celebrated by fans.

This series is supported by Allen Ford and we thank them for their continued support.

Essex Career Stats (2008-2016)
Debut: 12 April 2008 v Cambridge University (First-class friendly)
Appearances: 295
Wickets: 598
Best bowling: 8-10 v Leicestershire
First-class Average: 21.62
5-wickets in an Innings: 24

One of the most popular cricketers to have been signed by the county from outside its borders, David Masters was warmly appreciated and highly respected by colleagues and opponents alike plus those watching from beyond the boundary. He always recognised that he was in the entertainment business and was happy to oblige anyone who wanted to exchange pleasantries with him – and often delivered with that ready smile.

He started his first-class career with his native Kent but with opportunities restricted due to their clutch of fast bowlers, he upped sticks and moved to Leicestershire in 2003 for whom he turned in five years of unstinting service before expressing the desire to return nearer to his roots. Essex stepped in and offered a three-year deal and he became a welcome part of the fixtures and fittings at Chelmsford signing extended contracts until he decided to retire at the end of the 2016 season. Fittingly, he bowed out on a high having topped the county’s bowling averages and playing a key part in their promotion back to the top-flight.

He was 29 when he joined Essex and cautiously stated, “I’ll probably need a little bit of time to get into it but I’m pretty sure I’ll do well. I know my game now and I’m at my peak, so I think Essex have got me at the perfect time of my career.”

How prophetic those words proved to be! The quality opening bowler, with an insatiable appetite for hard graft, proved to be a class act in all three formats of the game with the enviable knack of prolific wicket-taking paired with eye-catching economy. He consistently found movement both in the air and off the seam combined with nagging accuracy.

Whatever the format of the game, the Masters name appeared a virtual fixture on the Essex team sheet; a remarkable testimony to his level of fitness. Yet he admitted that he despised with a passion the need to go to the gym. “I hate it!” he insisted. “I do go but I do love bowling; it’s what I do best. I thrive on hard work.

“When I was leaning my trade and making my way in the game, I learned the value of hard work. I would bowl at senior players in the nets before and after lunch day in and day out but that was an accepted part of your cricket education and that stood me in good stead. I suppose as I get older, I’ve learned how to look after my body more and learned to eat the right things as well.”

A true workhorse, he spent the summers sending down over after over and then throughout the winter months, worked on building sites for his father’s firm giving rise to his ‘Hoddy’ nickname.

On the field, his efforts were tireless and undaunting and here was a player who just got better with age

In 2011, he enjoyed a stellar summer when he was the leading wicket-taker in Division Two with a staggering 93 championship victims (including a career-best 8 for 10) and the highest number of wickets taken by a bowler since 1998.

That personal best was achieved against his former club Leicestershire at Garon Park, Southend. “Funnily enough, I told the lads I had a big one around the corner, but I never thought I would take so many wickets for so few runs,” he said. His devastating 8 for 10 came in the space of just 46 deliveries as his former county collapsed to 34 all out. Set 315 to win in more than a day, Leicestershire’s innings lasted an hour and a quarter. “We thought we might just try and nip a couple out on the third evening but then everything went crazy,” he laughed. “It was amazing, I don’t really know to this day why it happened; it was just one of those days when everything happened for me.”

By the time he decided to hang up his boots, he had taken 940 wickets across all formats. That included 672 wickets from the 37,788 deliveries he had sent down in the first-class game alone.

His final match proved an emotional affair bringing an end to a career spanning an overall 202 first-class and a combined 305 List A and Twenty20 appearances. It came at Canterbury where he had started his career and when he left the playing arena for a final time, he was given a guard of honour by the Kent and Essex players and a standing ovation from an appreciative crowd.