The International Cricket Council today announced the Team of the Tournament for the group stage of the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2007-08, the final of which takes place between Namibia , making its first appearance, and defending champion Ireland at St George's Park , Port Elizabeth from 30 October to 3 November.

The team was selected by a specially assembled panel of experts after the coaches and captains of each of the eight competing teams were asked to make their nominations. The players who made the team will be presented with an ICC Intercontinental Cup 2007-2008 Team of the Tournament award.

Not surprisingly, players from the two finalists provide most of the team but in total six countries are represented. Four of the team are from Ireland , including the 12th man, while Namibia has provided three. In addition, there are two players from Kenya and one each from Canada , the United Arab Emirates and Bermuda .

Only performances in the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2007-08 were considered and of the eight competing teams, just Scotland and the Netherlands are not represented in the dream team.

'Once all the votes from the coaches and captains had been tallied, the panel made the final selections but relied heavily on those nominations,' said ICC High Performance Manager Richard Done, who chaired the panel. 'There have been some wonderful performances in the 2007-08 event and a remarkable number of close games. It was also testament to the competitive nature of the tournament that we did not know who both finalists would be until the last day of the last match, between Kenya and Ireland at Nairobi Gymkhana earlier this month,' said Done.

'During the tournament, the members of the selection panel between them saw all the teams in action and all are hugely knowledgeable about Associate cricket, particularly the top sides. It made for some interesting discussions in debating the make-up of the team and I think the time and thought that went into that process has yielded 12 guys who have all performed outstandingly well for their teams in the 2007-08 edition of the tournament.

'The idea of the ICC Intercontinental Cup is to give players from Associate teams to opportunity to play more the longer form of the game and the four-day format has been very successful. I have noticed a lot of improvement in performances since this tournament was introduced in 2004. 'Batsmen are demonstrating better concentration and technique, bowlers are showing more patience and the fielding is also improving. It's really encouraging as we continue to close the gap between the Test sides and the top Associates.

'Although this team won't actually play any matches, I am pretty confident it could hold its own at a high level. This is a fine group of players named here,' he said.

The coaches and captains were asked to make the nominations from teams other than their own and they nominated players in the following categories: opening batsmen (two); top/middle-order batsmen (three); wicketkeeper (one); quick bowlers (three); spin bowlers (two) and one additional player from any category, who the coaches and captains felt was deserving of his place.

To be nominated, players must have appeared in at least four out of his team's seven ICC Intercontinental Cup 2007-2008 round-robin matches. The coaches and captains were also asked to nominate a captain from the players they picked. To assist the coaches and captains in their deliberations, they were all provided with full statistics and averages providing the leading performances from each of the 28 matches in the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2007-08 group stage. Once all the votes were collated the five-person panel made its selection.

Team of the Tournament 2007-08 (in would-be batting order)

  1. Niall O'Brien ( Ireland , wicketkeeper)
  2. Saqib Ali (UAE)
  3. Andre Botha ( Ireland , captain)
  4. Gerrie Snyman ( Namibia )
  5. Kevin O'Brien ( Ireland )
  6. Thomas Odoyo ( Kenya )
  7. Sunil Dhaniram ( Canada )
  8. Kola Burger ( Namibia )
  9. Louis Klazinga ( Namibia )
  10. Hiren Varayia ( Kenya )
  11. Dwayne Leverock ( Bermuda )
  12.  Peter Connell ( Ireland )

The selection panel consisted of: Richard Done (Chairman) Ian Callender ( Europe ) Russell Tiffin ( Africa ) Mazhar Khan ( Asia ) Martin Vieira ( Americas ).

About the team

Niall O'Brien

The 26-year-old Northamptonshire and Ireland wicketkeeper-batsman has been selected to open the batting. In the five matches he played of the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2007-08 he scored 438 runs at an average of 73.00, including two centuries and a top score of 174. He also claimed 12 dismissals, made up of 10 catches and two stumpings.

 

Saqib Ali

Although Saqib tends to bat at four for the UAE, the panel felt confident he could open the batting with the same success. The 30-year-old is the tournament's highest scorer with 690 runs in seven matches. In 13 innings he registered three centuries and two fifties including a top score of 195 against defending champion Ireland in Abu Dhabi .

 

Andre Botha

Although he does not captain Ireland , the panel believed he was the best man for the job out of those who made the team. The 33-year-old scored 643 runs at an average of 80.37 and he scored more centuries in the tournament than anyone else with four. With the ball, Botha was also more than useful taking eight wickets at an average of 17.25 and a stingy economy rate of 2.27 runs per over.

 

Gerrie Snyman

His remarkable innings of 230 out of a Namibia total of 282 against Kenya at Sharjah Stadium in January 2008 will long be remembered as perhaps the innings of ICC Intercontinental Cup history. In all, he scored 563 runs at an average of 46.91 and at a brisk strike-rate of 92.29. With the ball he took 20 wickets at an average of 20.95, making him a player of genuine all-round quality.

 

Kevin O'Brien

Another all-rounder, 24-year-old O'Brien joins his brother in the team after averaging 59.57 with the bat including a fine 171 not out against Kenya at Nairobi Gymkhana earlier in October. His hard-hitting, no-nonsense style makes him a very watchable player his 12 sixes in that innings is testament to that. He is also a handy bowler, having taken four wickets with an economy-rate of just 2.61.

 

Thomas Odoyo

The winner of the ICC Associate ODI Player of the Year 2007, Odoyo has also been in great form in the longer version of the game. In this tournament he scored 460 runs at an average of 57.50, including two centuries and two fifties. He has also taken 13 wickets at 19.76.

 

Sunil Dhaniram

Probably Canada 's most consistent performer with both bat and ball in the 2007-08 ICC Intercontinental Cup, Dhaniram is one of three slow left-arm bowlers in the side. He took 18 wickets at 26.44 while also averaging 67.75 with the bat. He is the fourth highest-scoring batsman in the tournament with 542 and his innings of 141 not out set up victory for his side over the UAE.

 

Kola Burger

The leading wicket-taker in the tournament, Burger's 37 scalps in seven matches came at an average of 15.00 and a fine strike-rate of a wicket every 32.70 balls. He had four five-wicket hauls in the tournament helped by the fact he bowled 202 overs, more than any other quick bowler. He is also a useful lower-order batsman with a top score of 76 in a crucial eighth-wicket partnership with Bjorn Kotze against the UAE.

 

Louis Klazinga

The third prong of a formidable Namibian pace attack (with Burger and Snyman), Klazinga took 27 wickets at an average of 17.18, including an impressive 4-11 as his side dismissed Ireland for 69 in the first innings in Windhoek. At just 22 years old and with an overall first-class average of just 22.60, Klazinga looks set to form the backbone of the Namibia bowling for many years to come.

 

Hiren Varaiya

He is just 24 years old but Varaiya bowls with the cunning and guile of a more mature slow bowler. His 30 wickets in six matches came at an average of 19.80 and included three five-wicket hauls and one 10-wicket match. He also helped to prop up the Kenya batting line-up on more than one occasion having been used in the middle order as well as towards the tail.

 

Dwayne Leverock

Another left-arm slow bowler, Leverock has been Bermuda 's Mr Consistent for many years and his 34 wickets at 27.17 in this tournament show that he still has what it takes. He bowled a phenomenal 320.4 overs, which is a full 116.1 overs more than the next busiest and given he is one of the oldest players still turning out regularly at 37 it demonstrates his passion and commitment are still there.

 

12th man: Peter Connell

The 27-year-old broke into the senior Ireland team relatively recently and has already made a big impression. In the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2007-08 Connell played just four matches but took 20 wickets at the low, low average of just 11.85. He took 6-28 in the second innings against the Netherlands and posted match figures of 35-14-69-10 to seal a comfortable victory. He narrowly misses out on a place in the starting eleven but the panel felt he was worthy of the 12th man spot.

 

 

About the panel:

 

Richard Done (chairman) has been the ICC High Performance Manager since 2004 working hard to improve the quality of cricket and administration in the top Associate Members through the ICC's High Performance Programme. Before that he held a number of coaching jobs, most notably as senior coach at the Australian Cricket Academy in Adelaide and as head cricket coach at the Queensland Academy of Sport. As a player, he opened the bowling for New South Wales in a first-class career that spanned 1978-79 to 1985-86.

Ian Callender has been a respected cricket journalist in his native Ireland for more than 20 years, covering numerous ICC and other international events, including the ICC Trophy, ICC Cricket World Cup, European Championship and ICC Intercontinental Cup. Having been a staff journalist for the Belfast News Letter for many years, he is now a busy freelancer.

Russell Tiffin was a wicketkeeper-batsman who represented Mashonaland in Zimbabwe during the 1980s before being persuaded to turn his hand to umpiring. He took to it like a duck to water and took charge of his first Test within six years of first donning the white coat. He is now a member of the Emirates International Panel of ICC Umpires and has stood in 42 Tests and 102 ODIs as well as several ICC Intercontinental Cup matches.

Mazhar Khan has been Emirates Cricket Board administrator for more than a decade and before that was secretary of Sharjah Cricket Council. A wicketkeeper-batsman, he played club cricket in his native India and subsequently in the UAE when he emigrated there more than 30 years ago.

 

Martin Vieira has been ICC's Regional Development Manager for the Americas region for the past five and a half years. Prior to that he had gained more than 30 years' experience of cricket in Canada as a player, coach and administrator. He was instrumental in the organisation of the ICC Trophy 2001 in Toronto and was the original Americas region delegate on the ICC Development Committee when the programme was launched in 1997.