MATT Mason believes director of cricket Steve Rhodes’ ability to attract some of the world’s leading overseas players to Worcestershire is “a mark of the high regard he is held within the game” but also testament to his extensive range of worldwide contacts.

Rhodes pulled off a major coup in persuading Indian star Ravichandran Ashwin to join for the finale of the County Championship Division Two promotion campaign.

The all-rounder, 30, made his mark with eight wickets in the win over Gloucestershire last week.

Ashwin may have been the cream of the crop but there have been many other leading lights who have rocked up at New Road to entertain fans in recent seasons.

Steve Smith, the late Phil Hughes, Shakib Al Hasan, Chris Gayle, Zaheer Khan, Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Saeed Ajmal and this summer John Hastings, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Santner and  Ashwin are just some of the names to play under Rhodes.

He has also sometimes signed up-and-coming players or those looking to resurrect their international careers with a point to prove.

Some have been more successful than others but assistant coach Mason said: “When I look back at the years I’ve been at the club we’ve had some fabulous overseas signings particularly of late, and Ashwin is another one.

“Credit to Bumpy (Rhodes) really. It is real mark of the high regard he is held within the game.

“If he contacts people and invites them to come to this club it seems they want to be here.

“Steve’s standing in the game among his peers and the respect he has earned over the years as a player and a coach is great evidence this club is a place people want to come and play at.”

Rhodes has built up working relationships with many international coaches and boards — a necessity when vast number of players are centrally contracted and with no objection certificates often required.

Mason said: “Establishing all those contacts takes time but you also need to build good relationships with people.  “The players are contracted to the various boards and they have total control over the players to a degree.

“So you have to build up some good trusted relationships which he has done.

“It’s not easy getting overseas players, particularly at short notice, the way they chop and change these days between formats and different competitions. International scheduling doesn’t seem to have any sort of pattern to it.

“So to get the people we have over the last few years has been great and some of them have had a massive impact here.”

Mason said what international players can offer away from the middle is also crucial when considering who to sign.

He said: “Here we’ve had some real quality and it’s not just what they bring on the field. It’s what they bring into our dressing room.

“Our young spinners have had Lyon, Santner and now Ashwin to speak with and learn from this summer alone. Hastings has been terrific in the dressing room and the players before them.

“Our young cricketers have had exposure to some terrific overseas players but so have the coaches.

“We spend time talking to these guys and picking up things from people who are playing cricket all around the world and it is very useful to us.”