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Major coup for Cricket Ireland as they appoint South African as new head coach

Graham Ford will take over from John Bracewell in December.

THE PROSPECT OF Test cricket and a lucrative salary package has helped Cricket Ireland pull off a major coup in attracting Graham Ford — one of the game’s top coaches — to replace John Bracewell at the end of this year.

England v Sri Lanka - Investec Third Test Match - Sri Lanka Nets and Press Conference Day One - Lord's Ford stepped down from his position as Sri Lanka head coach in June. Source: Paul Harding

The 56-year-old South African has been appointed as the new national head coach on a three-year deal and will take over the reins from the departing Bracewell in late November.

Ford, a former first-class player, brings a decorated coaching CV to the job following spells in county cricket with Kent and Surrey as well as roles as Test coach with South Africa and Sri Lanka.

He stepped down from his position with Sri Lanka in June after 15 months in charge and his appointment is a strong signal of intent from Cricket Ireland following Bracewell’s disastrous reign in charge.

Elevation to full membership of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the added funding which comes with that allowed Cricket Ireland to put together an appealing package understood to be worth €130,000 to €180,000 a year.

“I am really excited to be a part of this new era in Irish cricket. I have always enjoyed working with decent people and, in their attitude, character and camaraderie, the Irish cricketers have always come across as such,” Ford said.

“With my knowledge and experience I believe I can genuinely make a difference. All my efforts will be dedicated to assisting the players to improve and achieve their full potential while playing an enjoyable brand of cricket.”

Cricket - Royal London One Day Cup - Surrey v Glamorgan - Guildford Cricket Club Ford previously worked with Gary Wilson at Surrey. Source: EMPICS Sport

Cricket Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom and performance director Richard Holdsworth both welcomed the appointment of Ford, who arrives with an impressive reputation and track record at international level.

“We are delighted to have a person of Graham’s calibre as Ireland’s next Head Coach and we are all looking forward to working with him,” said Deutrom. “Graham has a strong reputation for man-management, of improving individual and team performances at all levels, and has shown how to build winning teams in all three formats

“He is well respected throughout the cricketing world, and we believe his coaching CV sends out a strong signal of our intention to try and hit the ground running as quickly as possible as a competitive force among the Full Member nations.”

Bracewell will remain in charge for Ireland’s One-Day International against West Indies in Belfast next Wednesday, as well as the final Intercontinental Cup game against Scotland in November.

The Kiwi will then hand over to his successor during that tour of the United Arab Emirates, bringing the curtain down on his two-year tenure.

It was announced in July that Bracewell would leave the position when his contract expired after a record of just 21 wins in 62 completed games since he succeeded Phil Simmons in May 2015.

While Ford’s appointment comes at a hugely exciting time for Irish cricket, his arrival also marks the start of a critical period for the national team. Qualification to the 2019 World Cup is on the line at the beginning of next year while Ireland are likely to play their first-ever Test match in 2018.

England v Sri Lanka - Royal London One Day International Series - Fifth One Day International - Sri Lanka Media Activity - SSE SWALEC Stadium Ford takes over in December. Source: David Davies

Holdsworth added that Ford’s expertise for the shorter forms of the game made him emerge as the outstanding candidate from an interview process, which reportedly attracted expressions of interest from Chris Rogers and Mark Boucher among others.

“Graham’s reputation for improving young players, his work ethic and huge knowledge were among the key factors for his appointment,” said Holdsworth. “The panel was strongly persuaded by Graham’s clear understanding of what the Ireland team and Irish cricket in general needs right now, while he is already familiar with some of our players through his coaching spells at Kent and Surrey.

“In the short term, his expertise in the shorter forms of the game will also be vital as we build towards two major ICC events over the next three years – including the ICC World Cup Qualifier in the first half of 2018 – while longer term he is aiming to strengthen the national team in its rebuilding process from a core of long-established players to a younger less experienced team.”

Ireland welcome West Indies to Stormont next week, Wednesday 13 September, for the marquee ODI of the international summer.

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