Bracewell to step down as Ireland's head coach

John Bracewell looks relaxed during a training session Getty Images/Sportsfile

John Bracewell has decided to step down as the head coach of Ireland at the end of his contract in December. Having been appointed at the end of the 2015 World Cup, he had helped the team qualify for the World T20 in 2016, then attain Test status in 2017 and now is looking for "a new goal."

"Having been down the full-on Full Member road before with New Zealand Cricket, it is not my desire to do so again," he said. "Whilst my wife and I have immersed ourselves into Ireland and Irish culture we feel it is now time to return home to New Zealand and our families. I have therefore agreed with Cricket Ireland to finish up at the conclusion of my contract.

"I took on the role as head coach because I believed in the little guy getting a fair break and the cause of attaining Test status appealed to my underdog psyche. That having been achieved, albeit by an unexpected turn of events, has left me looking for a new goal and challenge."

Bracewell's tenure coincided with a dip in limited-overs fortunes for Ireland - they could win only one out of 14 completed matches against Full Members from March 2015. There were signs of this dip in form in July 2015, when Papua New Guinea broke Ireland's 21-match unbeaten streak at the World T20 qualifier. They would also lose to Hong Kong and Netherlands as the tournament went on.

Another cause for concern was Ireland's record against Afghanistan. They lost five straight T20 contests earlier this year, were beaten 2-3 in ODIs as well, and perhaps most disturbingly, were thumped by an innings and 172 runs in a first-class match, leading to their losing the top spot on the Intercontinental Cup points table. At the time only the winner of the competition would have got a shot at playing Tests, before the decision to grant both teams Full Member status in June.

Cricket Ireland Performance Director Richard Holdsworth agreed that there had been hiccups for Ireland under Bracewell, but defended the out-going coach saying, "The last two years have been a difficult period of transition and rebuilding in which John has tried to nurture inexperienced talent against the best teams in the world.

"His last five months remain a very important period where I look forward to working with him to further invest in our key priority areas with new full member status now in place, and continue to lay down important foundations for our future."

Cricket Ireland's CEO Warren Deutrom confirmed the decision to part ways with Bracewell was "mutual."