Former Northants boss David Ripley named interim head coach of Cricket Ireland
Former Northamptonshire head coach David Ripley has been named the temporary boss of the Ireland cricket team for the next three months.
And he has been tasked with the job of ensuring the Irish qualify for the 2022 ICC World T20.
The move has been announced by Cricket Ireland in the wake of last week's news that head coach Graham Ford had quit his role after almost six years in the top job.
The Irish have moved quickly to appoint Ripley on an interim basis, with the 55-year-old available as he stepped away from his role as Northants chief to take on an as yet unspecified coaching position at the club at the end of September.
He will oversee the national team's affairs until the end of February, 2022, and will be in charge of Ireland for a tour of the USA and West Indies - as well as those crucial ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifiers.
Ireland, who are skippered by Andrew Balbirnie, will play one-day internationals against the USA in December and a World Cup Super League series against the West Indies in January, before the T20 qualifiers in Oman in February.
Ripley, who will be based in Dublin and start work on December 6, will head up a new interim coaching team that will see Gary Wilson as his assistant and Ryan Eagleson as the bowling coach.
During his 10 years as head coach at Northants, Ripley twice won the T20 Blast and also made a third final, and he is delighted to get the opportunity to coach at international level with the Irish.
“I am honoured to be joining Cricket Ireland for the next three months," said Ripley.
"It’s a really exciting opportunity and one I intend to make the very most of it, giving Andrew Balbirnie, the players and the staff all my support and experience.
"The cricket ahead looks exciting and qualification for the T20 World Cup is our priority.”
Ripley will be reunited with batsman Paul Stirling, who was the Steelbacks' overseas player for the 2020 season and is one of the key men in the Irish team, and the chair of the Irish national men’s selectors is Andrew White, a former team-mate of Ripley's at Northamptonshire.
“We are delighted to have agreed terms with David for the next three months," said Richard Holdsworth, the high performance director for Cricket Ireland
"With white-ball cricket the immediate priority, and T20 cricket particularly, it is pleasing we can bring in an experienced and innovative coach who has achieved success in the shortest format.
"We have no doubt he has the calibre to step up to international cricket, and his experience was seen as an important consideration ahead of our T20 World Cup Qualifier campaign in February.
“He is the only head coach in the Northants’ history to have guided the team to two major trophies, the T20 Blast title wins of 2013 and 2016, and he also guided the club to two promotions to the top flight of English cricket.
"Fortunately for us, he is currently between roles with his club and eligible to work in Ireland.
"It was really important we had someone who could spend time here in Ireland with the squad before it departs in just a couple of weeks – rather than just being with the squad on tour – so having someone both ready to take on the role and immediately available was essential.
"David will start in the role on December 6, before heading out with the squad to the USA on the 16th.
“We would like to thank Northants for their flexibility in allowing David to make this move, and to David for agreeing to a prompt start ahead of the upcoming tour.
“We did consider a number of candidates for this interim role, but with an important T20 World Cup Qualifier on the immediate horizon, we felt an experienced head coach with proven success in the format would provide us with a short-term benefit."
The Irish have already begun the global search for a new full-time head coach, with a three-year contract up for grabs.
Meanwhile, it has also announced the departure of Northamptonshire-born Ben Smith from his consultancy batting and fielding role with Cricket Ireland.
Former Leicestershire and Worcestershire batsman Smith, who was born in Corby, has left the role he has held since 2016 to take up a unspecified new role in England.