Cricket: Auckland Aces' Heinrich Malan appointed head coach of Ireland on a three-year contract commencing March

Auckland Aces cricket coach Heinrich Malan has been appointed head coach of Ireland.

South African-born Malan succeeds Graham Ford, who stepped down in November after four years in charge.

Malan, 40, will take over in March on a three-year contract, meaning he will see out the season in charge of Auckland.

Malan, who lost out in the race for the New Zealand head coach's job to Gary Stead in 2018, called his appointment "a huge honour".

"We have an exciting squad that has demonstrated that they have the ability to compete with the best players around the world," he said. "It is an exciting challenge and something that we, as a family, are really looking forward to."

Malan joined Auckland Cricket in April 2019; under the 40-year old's leadership, the Aces won the Ford Trophy in 2019/20 to go with five titles won during his time with the Central Stags (2013-19).

Malan has also assisted with the Blackcaps, most recently in preparation for the tour to England last year and was considered a potential future replacement for Stead.