Charlesworth played 200 hockey Internationals for Australia over 16 years from 1972 and later coached the Australian women's hockey team to two Olympic gold medals. He was also named Australian coach of the year six times.
But he is no stranger to Cricket, playing 47 first class matches for Western Australia from 1972 to 1979. A qualified doctor, he was also a federal Australian member of parliament for more than 10 years to 1993.
"Ric has outstanding experience as a top sportsman, coach and high performance consultant," chief executive Martin Snedden said on Monday.
He will be based at New Zealand Cricket's high performance centre at Lincoln University near Christchurch, overseeing elite player and coaching programmes as well as medical and sports science developments.
Charlesworth replaces former New Zealand batsman John Reid who was with New Zealand Cricket for a decade.