DUBLIN: Graham Ford is stepping down as Ireland coach in December, citing the “challenges and handicaps” of the role, cricket chiefs announced on Wednesday.
The former South Africa and Sri Lanka coach, who oversaw Ireland’s first-ever Test match, against Pakistan, recently took his side to the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
Cricket Ireland said in a statement that the South African, 61, would be stopping coaching duties immediately but would serve out his contractual notice period, which will take him until mid-December.
Ford, appointed in 2017, said the past four years had been “very special” but also outlined the difficulties of the role, without elaborating.
“When compared with the other ICC (International Cricket Council) full-member nations (Test-playing sides), Cricket Ireland has faced many handicaps and challenges,” he said.
“Despite this, on several occasions the team has competed impressively with some of the top teams in world cricket and it has been a privilege for me to experience first-hand the character and togetherness of the Irish players.
“However, over a period of time these challenges and handicaps have taken their toll on me.”
Richard Holdsworth, Ireland’s high performance director, acknowledged the pressures that Ford had faced, particularly during the coronavirus crisis.
“I know, from working closely with Graham, that the difficulties of managing his workload during the Covid pandemic has been particularly taxing — the constant travelling around Ireland to train with players, lengthy periods living within bio-bubbles, and the burdens of coaching for large periods under travel restrictions and a recruitment freeze which prevented us from hiring coaching support, to name but a few challenges.”