Mawhinney offers vigorous defence of Volts

Otago Cricket Association chairman Russell Mawhinney has provided a passionate response to a critical Volts season review.

Mawhinney, who has not long returned from climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, emailed the Otago Daily Times to address some of the criticism levelled at the OCA in the newspaper’s season review.

"You are entitled to write whatever you want, so I’m only going to comment on a couple of points", Mawhinney wrote.

"Firstly, we don’t comment on contract matters between OCA and players/coaches. It’s a matter of good faith and confidentiality between the parties involved.

"Secondly, we discussed [Ken Rutherford’s] comments. As I said [to you], I talk to Ken often and he is a genuine supporter of Otago cricket. Like everyone else ... he gets frustrated when the results aren’t going our way, and I think we would all admit that the Volts had a challenging year.

"We’ve got a big project this year which is the review of the strategic plan, so a lot of things Ken raised and that he and I discuss are going to come up in that review."

Mawhinney’s first point refers to the departure of Volts coach Dion Ebrahim.

His resignation was dealt with in a brief press release that did not address why Ebrahim was leaving with a year to run on his contract or even where he was heading next.

An interview request was declined. Ebrahim also declined to comment.

His wife, Kate Ebrahim, was not contracted this season, which was a surprise as she was their leading player.

The OCA also declined to be interviewed about her sudden departure.

In December, Otago great Ken Rutherford emailed the ODT to express a raft of concerns.

"At the heart of this email is a frustration I have had for quite a few years, to be honest, of the general apathy that exists, both externally and internally, of Otago Cricket", Rutherford wrote.

"There appears to be no plan. No strategy. No understanding of its place in the New Zealand Cricket framework."

The unsolicited email was highly critical of the association. OCA chief executive Mike Coggan declined to be interviewed but Mawhinney addressed the criticism in an interview at the time.

Mawhinney also had a more upbeat view on the Volts’ season in his latest response, but said he would like to see some changes made to the contracting system.

"The boys know they haven’t had the greatest of years. But I think there has been enough good stuff, especially at the back end of the season.

"The feeling I picked up on Wednesday at the awards night was positive.

"If these guys gel as a group and get a bit more out of themselves, I don’t think it’s fanciful that we could be vying for titles over the next three years, and out of that have more of our guys in the frame for higher honours."

He acknowledged Otago had lost some good players in recent years, and retaining and attracting top talent was a challenge.

"Player contracting is an issue in my opinion. As it stands now you can only contract players for one year.

"What hurts is that sometimes, just when we get someone firing on all cylinders they disappear up north somewhere. I don’t know how we sort all of this because it takes New Zealand Cricket, the Players Association and the six major associations to agree, but it doesn’t help us, and I think it needs to be reviewed.

"Things have changed since it was first adopted. Now there are T20 leagues everywhere, and we’re contracting for three different formats when not all of our contracted players are going to play all three formats.

"Yet we still only have one-year contracts when I know some players would like something a bit longer, and it would probably suit us to be able to secure some players for longer as well.

"I think there needs to be some more flexibility."