Former Zimbabwe wicketkeeper Andy Flower was confirmed as England's new team director on Wednesday by the England and Wales Cricket Board.
Flower, part of the England coaching set up for two years, was in temporary charge of the team in the recent tour of the West Indies after Peter Moores was sacked in January.
"Andy Flower has accepted the role of team director with immediate effect," ECB managing director Hugh Morris told reporters at news conference at Lord's.
"As a player Andy became ranked the number one batsman in the world and the ECB believe he has the vision, drive and ambition to be just as successful in his new post."
Flower, 40, said lots of big decisions and hard work were needed at the start of a summer that culminates with a home Ashes series against Australia.
"At the start of the West Indies tour I didn't know whether I wanted to apply for this job or not but halfway through I made my mind up that I did," said Flower, who wore a black armband during a 2003 World Cup match in protest at the policies of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe.
"I'm ambitious for England cricket and very honoured to be given this position. I believe that the last three months will stand me in good stead."
Morris said there had originally been 30 applicants for the position but declined to say how many of those were interviewed for what is one of the top jobs in world cricket.
"We had a great deal of interest and were happy with the level of candidates but we believe we have the right man for the job. Andy was a world class cricketer and we believe he can become a world class coach."
Flower will have precious little time to bed in before the serious business begins. He must choose a captain for the Twenty20 World Cup, select the squad for the West Indies series and prepare England for the visit of Australia.
"It's not going to be an easy year but it will be a very exciting one," he said. "We have a little time to try and get some momentum going for the Ashes."
England's test series defeat in the Carribean means they are languishing in sixth place in the ICC's test rankings.