Former Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford has been appointed Ireland head coach for what looms as the most important period in the team’s history.
Ford has signed a three-year deal, which will begin when outgoing coach John Bracewell’s contract expires at the end of the year.
The 56-year-old stepped down as Sri Lanka coach in late June, prematurely ending his tenure just 15 months after his appointment.
The architect of Sri Lanka's famous Test series win against Australia, Ford left two years ahead of schedule, having originally been appointed to guide the team through the 2019 World Cup in England.
His departure came after the team failed to qualify for the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy in England.
Ford will oversee a crucial period for Irish cricket. The team will play in the 2019 World Cup qualifiers next year, while their entry into the Test arena is also imminent after Ireland were granted full-member status by the ICC in June.
"I am really excited to be a part of this new era in Irish cricket,” Ford said. “I have always enjoyed working with decent people and, in their attitude, character and camaraderie, the Irish cricketers have always come across as such.
"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.”
Ireland will take on the West Indies in an ODI at Stormont next Wednesday, while they face a battle to secure a spot in the 2019 World Cup, which will feature just 10 teams.
Ford will join the Irish squad on a tour of the UAE in November – as part of a handover with Bracewell – before taking over full-time from December.
"Graham’s reputation for improving young players, his work ethic and huge knowledge were among the key factors for his appointment,” Cricket Ireland performance director Richard Holdsworth said.
"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.”