Mickey Arthur, the former South Africa coach, has been appointed the new coach of Australia, a role with wide-ranging responsibilities after its redefinition under the recommendations of the Argus review.
Arthur is the first foreign-born coach to be appointed to oversee Australia's fortunes, and will be in place in time for the first Test between Australia and New Zealand in Brisbane from December 1 to 5. Arthur's contract will run until the end of the 2015 World Cup.
"I am honoured and privileged to have another chance to coach an international team, particularly a team of the ilk of Australia," Arthur said. "I think I bring a fresh, unblinkered eye to the role after plotting against Australia when coaching South Africa, and having now worked within the Australian system with the Warriors.
"Australia has an abundance of cricket talent and I am confident the talent is there to ensure Australia is successful."
Following a thorough search that included entreaties to the England coach Andy Flower, among others, Arthur was confirmed in the job after a final round of interviews last week. Steve Rixon, Tom Moody and Justin Langer were among the other contenders for the job.
Since resigning from the South Africa job, Arthur worked as coach of Western Australia, familiarising himself with the Australian game and also showing his capability for tough decisions as he worked to revitalise a state that had developed, in his words, "too many comfort zones".
Arthur had kept one eye on events at Cricket Australia since his arrival to coach WA, but said he became seriously interested in the role only after Tim Nielsen's position was opened up to new candidates and the incumbent chose not to reapply.
"Once Tim vacated the role [at the end of the Sri Lanka series] then it got serious," Arthur said. "It was too good an opportunity not to have a look at, so I think I became interested once the advertisement went out for the post. I was really happy at Western Australia and really happy that we were trying to build something, but this job was just too good not to have a look at."
In addition to coaching Australia, Arthur will be a selector, and also the man responsible for ensuring the coaching philosophy and structure across all state sides will be consistent with and helpful to the progress of the national team. It is a commission similarly powerful to that held by Flower in England, and not dissimilar to Arthur's in his time with South Africa between 2005 and 2010.
During that tenure, Arthur formed a strong relationship with the captain, Graeme Smith, as the team rose from mediocrity to a peak that included in 2008-09 the first Test series win in Australia by any side for 15 years. Arthur acknowledged that his formation of a strong bond with Clarke, who was known to be a backer of Rixon, would be crucial to the team's success.
"I think the relationship between your captain and coach is one of the most important relationships there is in the game. It is almost like a marriage," Arthur said. "The captain and the coach feed off each other and there can be no discrepancies. Certainly the captain and the coach need to have consistent messages they're continually giving to the players.
"But it doesn't mean the captain and the coach can't challenge each other, that's all part of it and that's done behind closed doors. I'm really excited to work with Michael Clarke, he's an incredible talent and I've been very excited by the way he's gone about his captaincy. I think since he's taken over he's been innovative, he's captained with a lot of flair, and I'm really looking forward to supporting him, so he can be the best he possibly can and get the most runs he possibly can as well."
Shaun Pollock, the former South Africa captain and fast bowler, described Arthur's role with South Africa, and his qualities as a coach. "He's got a good understanding for the game and he will challenge the players," Pollock said. "He's not scared to take on and confront issues, but I think he would be defined more as a man manager."
Arthur's appointment concluded a momentous round of changes to the structure around the Australian team, including the appointment of Pat Howard as team performance manager, the induction of a new selection panel that will now comprise the national selector John Inverarity, Clarke, selectors Rod Marsh and Andy Bichel and Arthur.
The Western Australia coaching position Arthur departed from, also responsible for the Perth Scorchers in the BBL, will be taken over by his assistant Lachlan Stevens.