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Rugby man to spearhead Aussie revival

Former rugby union international Pat Howard was appointed Thursday to spearhead Australia's cricket revival, with the head coach, captain and chairman of selectors all reporting to him.

Howard, 37, who played 20 Tests for the Wallabies, will take on the role of general manager, team performance -- a new position recommended by the Argus Review earlier this year.

The sweeping review was ordered by the Australian Cricket Board after the Test team's humiliating 3-1 Ashes series defeat at home to England.

Howard, a Queenslander who has previously served as Australian Rugby Union's (ARU) high-performance manager, will be based in Brisbane and start work in mid-November, focussed purely on team performance.

Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland said Howard's high performance background in sport was key to his appointment.

"He has a background of success as a player, selector and coach, including 20 Tests as an Australian player, as well as playing and coaching success with the Leicester Tigers in England and was a high performance GM with the ARU," Sutherland said.

"He brings vital qualities, in what is a pivotal new role, with a singular focus on Australian team performance.

"His priority will be ensuring that all of Australia's high performance cricket programmes dovetail in a manner that helps us produce the best men's and women's teams in the world."

Howard will play a key part in the choice of the national team's new head coach, to replace Tim Nielsen who quit after the recent tour of Sri Lanka.

"The timing of the new role off the back of Argus Review makes this an exciting time in Australian cricket," said Howard, who is currently chief operating officer of and Australian property group.

"It is a great opportunity for anybody interested in sports leadership."

Sutherland added that CA would quickly move to finalise recruitment of a full-time national selector and other selectors, positions which have attracted strong interest, and to recruit a head coach.

Australia are currently touring South Africa with Troy Cooley acting as interim coach.

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