Richards will oversee the identification and development programs for under 15 and under 18 Queensland teams, along with chairing selection panels for all Queensland women’s teams.

His role will see him casting his eye over talent State-wide, working closely with Queensland Cricket’s network of talent and coach specialists, and will play a vital role in the strengthening and growing of Women’s premier cricket

The appointment is part of a landmark investment of $1.35 million for female cricket that was approved by the Board of Queensland Cricket this week.

The funding package will be directed towards Game & Market Development and High Performance initiatives and is the largest single commitment to growing the game for women and girls that Queensland Cricket has made in its history.

The highly experienced Richards has been Fire coach since 2010, and took the reins of the Brisbane Heat in the first two seasons of the Rebel Women’s Big Bash League.

Richards joined Queensland Cricket as a regional cricket officer in 2006 after a lengthy career in the banking industry.

He said today he was excited about the prospects of lifting women’s cricket to greater heights in Queensland.

“I will miss the coaching and the interaction with the girls, as we have all worked very hard together over the years, but it is the right time now for us to build further on the wonderful momentum that female cricket has generated around Queensland and Australia,’’ he said.

“Being across the growth in cricket for girls, and overseeing the continuing identification and development of the many talented young female cricketers in Queensland will be a challenging but rewarding role.”

“The faith the Board has demonstrated in women’s cricket through their funding approval will give Queensland girls more opportunities than ever to play and enjoy the game, as well as develop the next generation of Fire and Heat players, and ultimately provide more players in the Australian Women’s team,” Richards said.

“We know that our current Australian World Cup players like Jess Jonassen and Beth Mooney and the Fire and WBBL Heat players are outstanding advocates for cricket and for Queensland.”

Richards said the success of the WBBL in attracting girls to cricket was paramount.

“We’ve seen first-hand the rapid spread of stand-alone competitions for girls since the WBBL started. Our numbers show clearly that it is attracting more girls than ever to play at school and clubs.

“Things like the MILO T20 Blast Schools Cup and Heat Girls Cricket Leagues in partnership with our junior cricket associations provide a great environment to learn skills and have fun playing the game,’’ he said.

Queensland Cricket CEO Max Walters thanked Richards for the drive and passion he brought to his coaching career.

“Andy will take those traits into his new role and Queensland will ultimately benefit,’’ he said.

“There is a real desire within Queensland Cricket to grow and strengthen the appeal of cricket for women and girls, and the funding boost we have committed to the female game will be underpinned by having committed people like Andy in such a senior role.”

“The recent commitment by the State Government to provide better facilities for females at the grassroots level is just one part of the broader commitment we bring to ensuring cricket is a sport for all,” he said.

Walters confirmed that Queensland Cricket had commenced its search for a suitable candidate to fill the Fire and Heat coaching roles.

“We will be finalizing the appointment of a new coach soon. Andy and current assistant coaches Peter McGiffin and Scott Prestwidge will oversee preparations in the meantime,’’ he said.