Irelands quest for an unprecedented hat-trick of ICC Intercontinental Cup victories comes to a conclusion over the next 5 days with the final in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The opposition Namibia enter the game as underdogs but will have been buoyed by their performance in Windhoek a few weeks ago when they came within 8 runs of knocking the Irish out of the tournament altogether. The match is scheduled to begin at 0830GMT with ball by ball text commentary here.
Irelands four day cricket has been superb on their African tour with a nail biting win against the aforementioned Namibia and an innings victory against Kenya propelling them back to the final again. The one day international tri-series against Zimbabwe and Kenya may have affected their preparation somewhat as a combination of overnight rain and an outfield that refused to drain in Nairobi led to the abandonment of the last three round robin games and the final itself. Ireland remain in 10th place in the ODI rankings despite the loss of points due to the defeat by Zimbabwe who have closed the gap along with Kenya.
This is the first time that the ICC Intercontinental Cup final has been played over a full Test match length in terms of days a statement by the ICC that the standard of cricket played by the top associate nations necessitates a game of long form first-class cricket lasting 5 days. Irelands county cricketers (and a couple of ex-Australians) have undoubtedly helped to raise the standard and ambition of team Ireland as a whole. While obtaining Test status is in the medium term unrealistic, regular World Cup & World Twenty/20 appearances while remaining the best associate nation in the world over an extended period will continue to increase the profile of the sport in the country in 20 or 30 years, who knows?
Having just been invited on to the Slugger team, Ill be putting my alter ego (esmereldavillalobos) to bed as a) it was a rubbish moniker, delivered in haste after too much Rioja and b) Ill feel more open and up front using my real name. Ill mainly be blogging about cricket and Irish cricket in particular and Im looking forward to the usual cut and thrust of debate that Sluggerites are renowned for. (At least) daily updates on the state of the game will follow Im not aware of any internet radio or TV coverage of the game but if anyone has any tips, theyd be appreciated!