The International Cricket Council (ICC) today announced the schedule for the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2006 with 14 matches scheduled to take place across four continents.

The third season of the first-class tournament for non-Test playing countries will begin with a qualification play-off between Namibia and Nepal in Windhoek from 23 to 26 March 2006.

The winner of this match will progress to join Ireland, Scotland and United Arab Emirates in Group A of the eight-team event. Their first match will be an away tie against 2004 champions Scotland from 12 to 15 May followed by a trip to defending champions Ireland from 18 to 21 May.

Group B comprises Bermuda, Canada, Kenya and The Netherlands and will begin with 2005 runners-up Kenya hosting Canada from 28 to 31 March.

ICC Global Development Manager, Matthew Kennedy, said that the 2006 event would provide unprecedented four-day competitive opportunities for the teams.

'All of the sides will play at least three four-day fixtures which will give them excellent exposure to the longer form of the game,' said Mr Kennedy.

'A glance at the groups shows what a truly global event the third season of the ICC Intercontinental Cup promises to be.'

This year's event will be played under a new eight-team format with the teams divided into two groups and the winners of each group contesting the final.

The expanded schedule means that the tournament will stretch into 2007 but even more ambitious plans are already in place for the fourth edition of the event.

In 2007 and 2008 the tournament will be conducted over a full round-robin format with all eight sides playing each other over two years with the likelihood of a final between the top two teams.

The format for the tournament in 2004 and 2005 involved four regional groups - Africa, Asia, Europe and Americas - with three teams in each group playing each other and the winners of the groups going forward to semi-finals. In addition, in previous seasons all of the matches have been of only three days' duration.

The evolving format will mean that each side plays a minimum of three four-day matches in this year's ICC Intercontinental Cup and seven four-day matches over the 2007 - 2008 period compared to a minimum of just two three-day matches per year under the previous structure.

The two groups for the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2006 are as follows:

Group A

  • Ireland
  • Scotland
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Namibia or Nepal

Group B

  • Kenya
  • Bermuda
  • Canada
  • Netherlands

The ICC Intercontinental Cup 2006 schedule is:

Dates Match Venue
23-26 Mar 2006 Namibia v Nepal Namibia
28-31 Mar 2006 Kenya v Holland Kenya
12-15 May 2006 Scotland v Namibia/Nepal Scotland
18-21 May 2006 Ireland v Namibia/Nepal Ireland
29 July-1 Aug 2006 Canada v Kenya Canada
12-15 Aug 2006 Canada v Bermuda Canada
17-20 Aug 2006 Scotland v Ireland Scotland
9-12 Nov 2006 Kenya v Bermuda Kenya
21-24 Nov 2006 Holland v Bermuda South Africa
5-8 Dec 2006 Holland v Canada South Africa
31 Jan-3 Feb 2007 UAE v Scotland Sharjah UAE
9-12 Feb 2007 UAE v Ireland Abu Dhabi UAE
tba (Nov 2006) UAE v Namibia/Nepal Namibia/Nepal
tba (Mar 2007) Final tba

Ireland won the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2005, beating Kenya by six wickets in the final in Windhoek, Namibia in October.

That result meant the trophy stayed in the Europe region as the inaugural winners of the tournament in 2004 were Scotland, which defeated Canada in the final, played in Sharjah in November of that year.