Noffke eager for challenge of coaching Volts

Ashley Noffke looks on during the Big Bash game between the Brisbane Heat and the Sydney Sixers...
Ashley Noffke looks on during the Big Bash game between the Brisbane Heat and the Sydney Sixers at North Sydney Oval last summer. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Ashley Noffke is up for the challenge.

But the Dunedin-bound coach knows he might have to get a thicker wetsuit if he is to get in much surfing in his new home.

Noffke was yesterday unveiled as the new head coach of the Otago Volts.

The former Australian fast bowler, who replaces Dion Ebrahim on a two-year deal, will head south from Queensland Cricket, where is the head of female pathways and performance and coach of the Brisbane Heat in the Women’s Big Bash, and is eager to get started with his new team.

"It’s a great opportunity to join a group with a lot of talented young players," Noffke told the Otago Daily Times from Brisbane yesterday.

"The thing that’s come across from chatting to a lot of people is the passion they have for Otago cricket, and that’s exciting for a coach.

"It’s inspiring for me, to be honest. There are players there who really want to achieve something for their region.

"Every time I got off the phone, I just had a really warm feeling from the people I was talking to."

It was not so warm in Dunedin yesterday — and Noffke thought it was about 22°C in Queensland.

"I know it’s just a little bit colder down there. I love surfing and the beach and golf. I might just need a really strong wetsuit to get into the water.

"I don’t think the weather can put a dampener on things, to be honest."

Noffke never played in Otago but has had some business dealings with southerners — he once ran a Chipmunks franchise, and headed a food group — and has never had less than a positive impression of the region.

While he is aware Otago lacks some of the resources of the bigger associations, and that the Volts have generally struggled to find consistent success, he is thirsting for the challenge.

"I love that. I’m certainly a person that loves a project-based scenario.

"Everyone has said how talented Otago are, and I’m super excited to get around them and maybe help unlock some of those things that maybe have been holding them back.

"That’s my job: to come in and look a bit differently at things and engage the players to see where they want to go. I’m really keen to hear from them and what they need and what they want to achieve.

"I’ve worked for lots of different places that have had droughts. It’s just [a matter of] thinking differently, being collective as a unit and going out to play entertaining, aggressive cricket."

Noffke, 47, has been a high-performance coach for 13 years, starting in Western Australia before a long association with Queensland teams.

While he started in men’s cricket, he has forged an elite pedigree with women’s teams.

He won the Big Bash with the Heat in 2019-20, was twice named the competition’s coach of the year, guides the London Spirit in England’s Hundred league, and has been assistant coach with a team in the Indian WPL.

"I strategically went into women’s cricket, and they’ve taught me to be a better coach and how to listen and engage players better.

"I go about things a lot differently now, and I’m really proud of the fact I’ve been able to work in both the men’s game and the women’s game."

Noffke will start his Volts role on June 24 and oversee winter training before completing his term with the London women, then return to Dunedin in August.

His international career was brief — just two T20s (including three for 18 on debut against the Black Caps in 2007) and an ODI during a powerful era of Australian cricket — but he loved a taste of it, and also toured with the test squad.

"I didn’t get a huge amount of international cricket, but I learnt a lot through that process.

"It’s probably what got me into coaching. I spent time with the greatest team in the world — you think about some of the names in that group — and I learnt a lot off them and the coaches, and it really inspired me to be the best version of myself as a coach."

Noffke played for Queensland, Western Australia, Middlesex, Durham and Gloucestershire, and finished with 386 wickets in 118 first-class games.