Ireland have appointed New Zealand’s John Bracewell as their new head coach on a deal subject to work permit approval until the end of 2017.
The former Black Caps player and coach succeeds Phil Simmons, who left his post after eight years with Ireland earlier this year to take charge of West Indies.
Bracewell, who will have a watching brief when Ireland take on England in Dublin next Friday, has been identified as someone who can help the associate nation achieve their goal of playing Test cricket by 2019.
And the 57-year-old is relishing the chance to take control of a team that once again upset the odds at the recently-completed World Cup, where they claimed wins over Test playing sides West Indies and Zimbabwe.
“There is nothing I enjoy more than fighting for a cause, and in cricket terms there is none better than obtaining Test status,” said Bracewell.
“Already Ireland have achieved tremendous international results given its financial resources and has gained respect at international tournaments, to the point where they are no longer regarded as a banana skin match but true qualifying contenders.
“I recently presented at the Irish coaching conference and listened to the passion not only for the game but for hard work coming from current and former players, and the parallels with my New Zealand cricket journey really resonated with me.”
If Ireland retain the Intercontinental Cup, a competition featuring the top non-Test playing sides, they will then take part in an ICC Test Challenge in 2018 against the lowest ranked Test nation.
The outcome of the two five-day matches at home and away is expected to determine whether the associate team is then added to the list of Test-playing nations for the next four-year cycle.
Cricket Ireland performance director Richard Holdsworth said: “We are delighted to welcome John to the Irish cricket family, to take the team through new challenges towards our vision of Test cricket.
“The interview panel were impressed by John’s passion, commitment and knowledge, but more importantly his international experience both as a player and coach.
“We feel John’s knowledge gained over a 25-year period in the first-class game will help further develop our current players, but also ensure succession planning for our future squad who aim to be playing Test cricket by 2019.”
The former off-spinner played 41 Tests and 53 one-day internationals for New Zealand before embarking on a successful coaching career.
He took charge of the Black Caps in 2003, leading them to the semi-finals in each of the World Cup, Champions Trophy and World Twenty20 before resigning from his position in 2008.
Bracewell was more recently the director of cricket at Gloucestershire but he left the county in January.
“It’s a fantastic appointment for Irish cricket.” said Ireland captain William Porterfield.
“His vast experience in all formats of the game both internationally and domestically will stand us in great stead, especially as we build towards our goal of Test cricket.”
Ireland assistant coach Peter Johnston will be in charge of the team for their ODI against England next week, with Bracewell’s first match set to be the Intercontinental Cup game against the UAE starting on June 2.