The variation that exists within the Ireland team could be the key to defeating Namibia, according to captain William Porterfield.

Speaking ahead of Friday's crucial ICC Intercontinental Cup match in Windhoek, Porterfield said Namibia would be a tough nut to crack but if his players performed to their potential he was confident of victory.

'We have pretty much a full-strength squad, which is a great boost for us,' said the 24-year-old from Donemana in Ireland's north-west.

'There is great variation in our batting and bowling. We are fortunate to have a number of left-handers in the batting line-up,' he said, referring to himself, Andre Botha, Niall O'Brien, John Mooney and Regan West. 'No one enjoys bowling to a right-left partnership so that is certainly an advantage for us.

'Also, our bowling attack has variation. It's good to have big Boyd (Rankin) back. He has been playing well for Warwickshire lately and he always offers something different. His extra height gives him more bounce and that could be crucial on the good batting track in Namibia.

'Having Trent (Johnston) back in the squad is good news for us it's a real boost to the strength of the squad given what he can do with both bat and ball. He enjoys the four-day format and his experience will be invaluable to me as captain. I've learned a lot about the four-day game playing for Gloucestershire but I will also be drawing on Trent's experience as well as others in the team,' said Porterfield.

With the likes of Kyle McCallan, Andrew White and Kevin O'Brien, there will be no shortage of knowledge for Porterfield's brains trust and there will also be plenty of newer faces keen to stake their claim for an automatic place, not least the talented Gary Wilson, Andrew Poynter and Phil Eaglestone.

But facing them will be a Namibia team that is unbeaten in this year's competition and if the defending champion is to make its third final in a row it will have to work hard against Louis Burger, Gerrie Snyman, Deon Kotze and company.

'Namibia is a good side. They haven't lost a game in this year's cup and it won't be easy to win. But if we just concentrate on doing what we do well and play to the best of our ability, the result should look after itself,' said Porterfield.

'This is a must-win game for us. Then we have to go to Nairobi and beat Kenya as well. To win the Intercontinental Cup for the third time in a row would be massive for us. We know what it feels like to win and we are hungry for more success.

'This is a big year ahead for us. Apart from the Intercontinental Cup, we will play some ODIs in Nairobi against Kenya and Zimbabwe and then in 2009 we have the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier and the ICC World Twenty20 so there will be plenty of opportunities for us.'

As it stands Namibia is almost assured of a place in the final of this year's Intercontinental Cup but there are still many possible scenarios that could take place before we know for sure which two teams will be there. If Ireland wins all 40 points on offer from the two matches, it will face Namibia in the final but if Kenya gets the better of Ireland then it will be the one to go through regardless of the result in Windhoek.

If Ireland takes all 20 points from Namibia and then also beats Kenya but with Kenya having secured a first-innings lead, Ireland would be through to the final. Meanwhile, the two African sides would finish on the same number of points (102) but Namibia would progress to the final on the basis that it would have more outright victories to its name.

The only way Namibia will not make it through to its first ICC Intercontinental Cup final is if it first loses all points to Ireland and then the match between Kenya and Ireland in Nairobi ends in an outright tie with Ireland having taken a first-innings lead. In that case, the defending champion would play Kenya again in the decider, a repeat of the 2005 final.

Play gets underway on Friday at the Wanderers Cricket Club, Windhoek at 1030 local time. The umpires for the match will be Russell Tiffin and Kevan Barbour of the Emirates International Panel of ICC Umpires.


Namibia: Louis Burger (captain), JB Burger, Deon Kotze, Sarel Burger, Gerrie Snyman, Bjorn Kotze, Craig Williams, Tobias Verwey, Nicholaas Scholtz, Kola Burger, Louis Klazinga, Louis van der Westhuizen, Wilbur Slabber.

Ireland: William Porterfield (captain), Andre Botha, Peter Connell, Alex Cusack, Phil Eaglestone, Trent Johnston, Kyle McCallan, John Mooney, Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien, Andrew Poynter, Boyd Rankin, Regan West, Andrew White, Gary Wilson.

Umpires: Russell Tiffin and Kevan Barbour