Watson, O’Brien added to Cricket Wellington specialist coaching model

Former Namibia head coach Doug Watson and former Firebirds and BLACKCAPS paceman Iain O’Brien have been added to Cricket Wellington’s high performance coaching staff.

Watson, the current Auckland Aces assistant coach, will join Wellington as the Firebirds specialist batting coach, while O’Brien will relocate to Wellington from the UK to take up the specialist pace bowling coach role.

Watson is a South African domestic cricket legend and is the KwaZulu-Natal Dolphin’s all-time most capped player. He has represented South Africa A at international level as a player and was the head coach of Namibia from 2012 to 2015.

Watson has also had coaching stints with the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League and as head coach of the KwaZulu-Natal Inland. He has been assistant coach of the Auckland Aces for three years and helped them lift the men’s domestic Ford Trophy title last summer.

“I’m really excited to be working for such a visionary and progressive MA,” said Watson.

“Wellington have a really clear vision of what they want to achieve in the future and I really feel like I can buy into that and I’m really excited to be joining up with them to work towards that vision.

“I’m hoping that my playing and coaching experience can rub off on the youngsters in the programme and help with what they’re trying to achieve in Wellington, and I want to bring a lot of enjoyment to the side too.

“I’d also like to thank everyone at Auckland Cricket for all of their support over the past three years – I’ve really enjoyed my time there and wish them all the best for the future.”

Petone born and bred, O’Brien made 167 appearances for the Firebirds between 2000 and 2010 and made his Test debut for the BLACKCAPS in 2004. He represented New Zealand 36 times across all three formats, taking 93 wickets. He has also had playing stints with English county cricket sides Leicestershire and Middlesex.

O’Brien is currently completing his ECB Level 3 coaching qualifications and adds a Bachelor of Education and a Diploma in Teaching to his many years of cricket coaching. He is also one year into a Master of Science degree in psychology.

O’Brien said he couldn’t wait to make an impact on fast bowling in the Capital.

“This is my dream job and one I have waited a long time to come up,” he said.

“I said to the interview panel that I would swim back for the job, and I still would. The success that the Blaze and the Firebirds have had is impressive - here's to more!

“I want to make sure the person behind the player is healthy and comfortable in the environment; and, given that, it's just so wonderful that I can be a part of the Wellington setup that changed my life and gave me something I had never dreamed of.

“To be able to influence Wellingtonians, their careers and send them onto incredible things, is a special feeling.”

Watson and O’Brien’s appointments are the final pieces of Cricket Wellington’s new high-performance coaching model which aims to provide Wellington’s elite cricketers with specialist coaches to achieve the organisation’s strategic objective of having more players representing New Zealand.

Cricket Wellington CEO Cam Mitchell said he was delighted to have secured the services of both coaches.

“We want to continue to produce top quality cricketers that perform well both for Wellington and on the international stage for New Zealand, and in Doug and Iain we believe we have two new coaches who will help us achieve that objective,” he said.

“Doug has a wealth of coaching experience at the highest level both here and back in South Africa and we know he will add a huge amount to the Firebirds environment.

“Iain has a huge amount of bowling experience at the highest level and is a passionate Wellingtonian and he will be an invaluable resource to our best fast bowlers in the Capital.”

Watson and O’Brien join Lance Dry, Luke Woodcock, and Ivan Tissera in the new Cricket Wellington high performance coaching structure, as well as Glenn Pocknall who’s contract as head coach of the Firebirds was extended until May 2024.



Cricket Wellington high performance coaching structure:

Wellington Firebirds Head Coach - Glenn Pocknall

Wellington Firebirds Specialist Batting Coach - Doug Watson

Wellington Blaze Head Coach - Lance Dry

Specialist Pace Bowling Coach - Iain O’Brien

Blaze and Pathway Batting Coach - Luke Woodcock

Youth Development Coach - Ivan Tissera


*Lance Dry, Luke Woodcock, and Ivan Tissera to share specialist spin bowling coach role

Article added: Thursday 01 April 2021