Begining of the end of the Bracewell era
Ian Callender (Sunday Life)
IT is officially the beginning of the end of the John Bracewell era when Ireland face the West Indies in a one-day international at Stormont on Wednesday.
His successor, Graham Ford will be in charge for Ireland's next ODI, almost certainly against Afghanistan in December, when the countdown begins to Ireland's bid to qualify for their fourth successive World Cup finals.
The South African, who has previously coached South Africa, Sri Lanka and Surrey, has signed a three-year contract, but will not be in Belfast this week. He will go to the UAE at the end of November for the handover after Ireland's final Intercontinental Cup match against Scotland.
Bracewell remains in charge for Ireland's first match against a fellow Full Member - since their elevation to Test status - and fields seven of the side which appeared in his first ODI.
It would have been eight, but Kevin O'Brien was injured against Australia two years and two weeks ago. Only the North West trio of Stuart Thompson, Andy McBrine and the injured Craig Young are missing plus John Mooney, who has said he is available again after retiring last year.
The top six are unchanged although the spectators will not be turning up to see Ed Joyce, William Porterfield, Paul Stirling or O'Brien, rather they will be hoping that Chis Gayle is in the opposition line-up, the 37-year-old Jamaican still the star attraction wherever he plays.
If he does, it will not his first appearance at Stormont. He scored 31 - caught Niall O'Brien bowled Trent Johnston - in 2004 when one Brian Lara was still in the West Indies side,
Those were the days when Ireland were already causing shocks on cricket's Richter scale and they won that game by six wickets, chasing down 292, with more than three overs to spare.
Ireland also won the last game between the teams, at the 2015 World Cup in New Zealand, but with West indies' bowling attack impressing in England and Ireland without a victory in their last nine matches
it will be another huge surprise if Ireland bring Bracewell's win percentage to 37.
South African Ford is due to be in charge until the end of 2020 although he has seen out only one contract, after a three-year stint at South Africa, two at Surrey and two spells with Sri Lanka, the most recent ended last June after they crashed out of the Champions Trophy, following a first Test match defeat by Bangladesh and a series whitewash by Australia.