Experienced Ebrahim named as Volts coach

Dion Ebrahim. Photo: Getty Images
Dion Ebrahim. Photo: Getty Images
Seeing off the new ball in international cricket is a mighty challenge.

But guiding Otago to the top of the first-class standings is arguably even more daunting.

And that is the task which has former Zimbabwe opener Dion Ebrahim so excited.

The 40-year-old has been named as the new Volts coach.

He has signed a two-year deal and takes over from Rob Walter, who will coach Central Districts.

‘‘It is my first opportunity at this level and I’m really excited,’’ he said.

His biggest challenge, as he sees it, will be getting the best out of what is a relatively inexperienced playing group and an all-new supporting

Ebrahim will have a new assistant coach, a new physiotherapist and a new strength and conditioning coach to work with as well.

But while it is Ebrahim’s first head coaching role at first-class level, he brings plenty of experience in the high-performance environment and has clawed his way up the ranks rather than being thrust into a coaching role based on his reputation.

The right-hander played 29 tests and 82 one-dayers for Zimbabwe from 2001 to 2005.

He moved from Zimbabwe to the United Kingdom in 2006 and was pursuing a career in real estate. But he was lured to New Zealand in 2007 as a player-coach for the Taranaki Hawke Cup team.

‘‘It was just a fortunate turn of events that got me back into cricket,’’ he said.

‘‘I was fascinated by the country, so I came out and had a fantastic season and I guess found my passion for cricket again.’’

‘‘Three or four years later’’ he met his wife, White Ferns and Canterbury all-rounder Kate (nee Broadmore), and ‘‘everything else unfolded from there’’.

The couple married in 2016 and they have a 15-month-year-old daughter, Sophia.

Ebrahim accepted a role at Canterbury Cricket in 2014 as the performance and pathways manager. He coached the age group teams and the Canterbury A side before stepping up as Canterbury assistant coach in from 2018 to 2020.

Last summer he was the Central Districts assistant coach, so he has had three years as an assistant at first-class level.

It is the sort of lengthy apprenticeship which offers comfort. Ebrahim will not be suddenly overwhelmed.

He has a thorough understanding of the domestic cricket scene and a keen awareness of the challenges ahead for Otago which has not won the first-class competition since 1987-88.

Ebrahim has also fostered a lot of cricket connections across the country which could proved handy when it comes to recruiting talent — a perennial issue for the association.

‘‘As an outsider coming in I still see a lot of capability in the players and the core playing group.

‘‘Losing Nathan Smith [to Wellington] leaves a big gap and unfortunately there are not many seam bowling all-rounders of his calibre going around.

‘‘There are a couple who we have been in communication with who we would love to get into the environment.’’

But if he cannot get any of those players over the line, he should have more luck with his wife.

The 29-year-old has played 70 internationals for her country and would a be a huge asset for the Otago Sparks.

‘‘There is a possibility,’’ Ebrahim said.

‘‘I think she will be having conversations with Craig [Cumming, Sparks coach] and weighing up a number of different possibilities.

‘‘I know she is close mates with Suzie [Bates] and Katey Martin, so they will be in her ear.’’

The Ebrahims plan to move to Dunedin towards end of the school term. Kate is a relief teacher.

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