Ireland "did the business" in this match but only just. The win came after several wobbles, in fact one in each innings. Sent in, Namibia were 52 for seven. Then came, at number nine, K Burger, who hit 39 in 20 balls with 32 in boundaries to send the all out score to 95, 2 other batsmen making 10 each. The first Irish wobble saw 78 for three become 87 for seven. Johnston saved the innings, from number seven, with a score of 71 and a ninth wicket stand of 58 with P Mooney.
When Namibia went in again scores of 22 for six and 57 for seven seemed to indicate an innings win. Then came K Burger, still at number nine, for a second time. This time his 48 took as many as 32 balls but his boundary tally went up to 38. The eighth wicket stand of 64 (with Ludik whose share was 16) was easily the best of the match. No innings win therefore for Ireland. They needed 54 and saw 24 for one change to 25 for four. With some relief, Morgan, Gillespie and Johnston saw Ireland home by five wickets. The 54 took 22.5 overs.
Rain was a feature of the match. There was no play on day one. Only 62 overs of the 104 scheduled could be bowled on day two, and only 71 out of 104 bowled on day three. Ireland were worried on day four but play did start at 2:30 p.m. and 37 more overs finished the match, at just before 5 p.m.
The Intercontinental Cup was revamped for 2006. Previously the World was divided into four groups of four teams. Each winner went to Namibia in October 2005 to place semi-finals and final. Ireland emerged as winners. In 2006 there are only two groups of four each and the winners of each group will play a final in 2007. Ireland's group has Scotland (as in 2005), Namibia and United Arab Emirates. Scotland will be played away in August and United Arab Emirates away in early 2007. The matches have been increased to four days each. First innings lead brings six points with a further 14 for a win. Thus there is a maximum of 20. There are no bonus points for runs or wickets. In the previous week to this match Scotland beat Namibia by an innings in Aberdeen, winning the match 20 points to nil. In the current match Ireland also achieved a 20 points to nil win.
Ireland brought in WTS Porterfield, a left-handed opening bat, now playing with Rush, for his first cap. His home club is Donemana. Now 21 years of age he had played for Ireland at every youth level from under 13 upwards and had captained most of them. He had recently captained the "A" team in Abu Dhabi. He was joined by wicketkeeper Wilson who had played four matches in 2005. The other change from the recent Surrey match was Paul Mooney, now fit, replacing his brother John, who was unavailable for this match. Slow left-armer Kidd, who had gained one cap in 2004, was also in the panel and became 12th man.
The Namibia team was weakened by the absence of four players who would have been first choices, but were unable to travel. In addition, two of their bowlers had been reported for suspect actions in the under 19 World Cup and were, therefore, unable to bowl in this match. With his fourth wicket in this match, Paul Mooney became the 14th bowler to reach 100 wickets for Ireland. The last was McCallan in 2003. Mooney was in his 73rd match and reached the target in the 79th innings in which he bowled, in this, his ninth season on the team. Comparisons cannot be easily made with previous hundred wicket takers due to the modern predominance of limited overs matches, with one innings each, and where a bowler can only bowl 10 overs. Captain Johnston reached 50 wickets in his 27th match for Ireland.
After losing his first four tosses of the season, Johnston now won the toss for the second successive time for Ireland and sent Namibia in. Due to no play being possible on the first day, the start was brought forward by half an hour to 10.30 a.m. and the overs were extended from 96 to 104. When the pitch was uncovered it was perfectly dry, beige coloured but with a distinct touch of green. This latter was probably caused by the amount of rain and dampness which had been about for some days and certainly influenced the Irish decision to send in Namibia in. The conditions would be very strange to them. The sun was out but there was a chill wind.
The decision was vindicated within nine overs from Johnston and Mooney at which point Namibia were 24-5, Johnston had 3-11 and Mooney 2-13. S Burger came in and snicked a four. Swanepoel scored a two in Mooney's second over from the 11th ball he faced. The 12th bowled him. 9-2-2. B Kotze joined S Burger and each registered a four, Kotze's being a snick. Then, in his fourth over, Johnston bowled Kotze, the latter playing another tentative push shot. 19-3-5. S. Burger had got to 10 in three scoring strokes but was out in Mooney's fourth over. He drove uppishly and was well caught two-handed at mid-on by Morgan diving to his right. 21-4-10.
Newcomer Prinsloo was out in Johnston's next over. Morgan was again the catcher, this time low at second slip. 24-5-3. Ludik joined his captain D Kotze and a stand developed. It occupied 14 overs, lasted 61 minutes and added 21 runs. After six overs each Johnston and Mooney were replaced by Langford-Smith and Botha who did not get as much movement from the pitch as the opening bowlers. However, eight of the 14 overs in this stand were maidens. Indeed, Botha's first five overs contained four maidens and only one scoring stroke - a 2 by Kotze. In his sixth over, the 23rd of the innings, Langford-Smith made the breakthrough by bowling Kotze for seven off 51 balls. 45-6-7. Van der Westhuizen came next. Botha bowled two more maiden overs and his figures now were 7-6-2-0. Then Johnston caught and bowled Ludik, when he replaced Langford-Smith for the 27th over. 52-7-10 and Ludik faced 46 balls.
K Burger arrived and started with seven off Johnston's eighth over. He then destroyed Botha's analysis. Before Botha's ninth over they read 8-7-2-0. After it they read 9-7-30-0! The over went 6-6-dot-6-6-4. The sixes went over long off, twice, then over wide long on. The last was in the same place and Gillespie almost caught it but could only tip it over the line. Botha stayed on for a tenth over in which there was a run out. Then van der Westhuizen pushed into the covers and called a run. Burger refused. Porterfield came from cover point but his throw just missed the stumps. Wilson dived to his left and scooped the ball back in time to run out the returning van der Westhuizen. 92-8-6. The 41 stand came off 31 balls and van der Westhuizen made three of the runs.
In the next over (Johnston) Burger's spree came to an end. He had another swing but was caught at backward deep gully. 94-9-39. He faced 20 balls and hit four sixes and two fours. Under the two minute law lunch was then taken. Afterwards Johnston just required two more balls to have Van Zyl easily caught at first slip. Namibia were out in 32.5 overs of which Johnston bowled 9.5 to take 6-23. Ireland's last six wicket haul was by Conor Hoey who did it twice in 1991, 6-19 against Mashonland in Zimbabwe and 6-82 against Wales at Usk. Mooney had 2-16. Botha, despite Burger's 28 in one over, ended with figures of 10-7-32-0, only seven scoring strokes in 60 balls.
In his first match for Ireland, Porterfield faced the first ball of the innings. K Burger, who batted right-handed, was a left-arm fast medium bowler. Porterfield hit his third ball for four. Van Zyl was the other bowler and both were very good. They were accurate and moved the ball off the pitch. Both openers were out after 11 overs. Bray was out in Burger's fourth over. He pushed out and the ball moved in off the seam to bowl him. 7-1-3. Morgan came in and the next five overs yielded only seven runs, including an off driven four by Porterfield. Burger struck again in over 11. Porterfield moved across the crease, missed, and was LBW. 16-2-10.
The next pair, Morgan and Botha, did well. They put on 47 in 15 overs. Botha was the dominant partner and hit five fours in his 34 runs. S. Burger, at medium pace, relieved Van Zyl (7-3-9-0). He bowled one over for nine and then changed ends to relieve K. Burger (9-1-33-2). D Kotze, the captain, gave himself four overs of off spin and 50 was up in over 20. Then, for over 26, Van Zyl returned for Kotze. His fifth ball had Botha very well caught at point from a square cut. 69-3-34 (in 42 balls). The last over before tea (the 29th) was in fact the last over of the day's play due to more rain. Off the last two balls Joyce hit two fours, one a snick and then a square cut. The overnight score was thus 78-3, Morgan 23, Joyce eight.
More rain overnight delayed the start of the third day by 73 minutes. The start for Ireland was a disaster, four more wickets went down in 4.4 overs, all to Van Zyl. Morgan reached out too far on the off side to the second ball of the morning and was caught two-handed overhead at gully. 78-4-23. Gillespie pushed loosely at the next ball and was bowled. 78-5-0.
Johnston played the hat-trick ball for a single to leg and second slip dropped Joyce off the fifth ball of the over. Joyce scored a single off that dropped chance ball. He did not score off the next 15 balls he faced and was out off the 16th. It was the third over of the day for Van Zyl and, as in the first, he took two wickets in the over. Joyce tried to on drive, got an inside edge and the ball lobbed to mid-off. 87-6-9. McCallan tried to flick his second ball to leg and was LBW. 87-7-0. Wilson now arrived at number nine to join his captain, who had got to seven. This pair put on 28 in just under eight overs from K Burger and Van Zyl. Wilson got only four of these runs. The vital first innings lead (worth six points) was achieved in over 38 and 100 came up in the same over. For over 41, S Burger came on for K Burger and Johnston hit him for two fours, a pull and a square drive. Next over (42nd) Wilson was LBW despite a big stretch down the pitch. 115-8-4.
Then came Mooney and the best stand of the innings, 58, which straddled the lunch interval. Lunch was taken after 49 overs, and in the seven overs of the partnership up to lunch only eight runs were scored. After lunch S Burger continued and now, surprisingly, with a fifth bowler, B Kotze, medium pace, and not Van Zyl who had 6-27 in 18 overs. However, the batsmen were careful in search of a good lead. Johnston hit Kotze for two fours in over 52, a square cut and a second square of the wicket. Only 11 runs came in the next nine overs. Then, in over 62, Johnston drove a four to extra cover to send him to 53 with the score at 152. His 53 came off 105 balls with six fours. It was Johnston's fifth half-century for Ireland and he averages over 32. Now opening bowlers K Burger and Van Zyl returned. Johnston hit a four in each of the next three overs but got out to Van Zyl in the fourth, the 66th of the innings. He went down the pitch but drove uppishly and was caught by mid-on diving to his right. 173-9-71. Johnston's innings lasted 121 balls and contained nine fours. Langford-Smith was yorked first ball leaving Mooney 12 not out from 59 balls. A lot of credit is due to Mooney for his restrained play in support of Johnston. The 58 runs stand gave Ireland a 78 run lead. Johnston scored 71 out of 95 runs put on while he was in. It was, indeed, a captain's innings.
Van Zyl, in 19.5 overs, took 8-34. They were the last eight wickets to fall. K Burger took the first two wickets and finished with 2-46 in 16 overs. These two opening bowlers had, jointly, 10-80 in 36 overs. Namibia's other three bowlers had 0-87 in 30 overs. It was hard to explain why the two opening bowlers did not bowl immediately after lunch. The last "eight for" against Ireland was by Keith Dutch (off spin) who took 8-114 for MCC at Lords in 1993.
At 3 p.m. Namibia started again and in the 14th over the sixth wicket fell with only 22 on the board. As before Botha and Swanepoel started to the bowling of Johnston and Mooney.
Mooney took the first wicket (his 99th) when Botha was LBW in the fourth over seeking to swing to leg. 5-1-4. In Johnston's next over Swanepoel was caught by wicketkeeper Wilson who was standing up. 9-2-0. B Kotze joined S Burger but the stand only lasted five balls. In his third and, surprisingly, his last over in the match, Mooney bowled S. Burger to register his 100th wicket. To make it even more comprehensive he broke the middle stump! 13-3-6. B Kotze was now joined by his captain, D Kotze. This stand lasted 17 balls and put on five runs. With the first ball of his fifth over (the 9th) Johnston had D Kotze snicking the ball to second slip who knocked the ball up to be caught by a diving first slip, Botha. 18-4-3.
At this point tea was taken with Namibia 18-4. On resumption Prinsloo took a single off Johnston's fifth ball to wide mid-on. The non-striker called a rather foolish second run. Prinsloo hesitated and Mooney threw to Wilson who ran him out. 19-5-1. Ludik came in to join B Kotze and Langford-Smith had taken over from Mooney. Thirty balls were played carefully for three runs. Then Kotze, in over 14, became Langford-Smith's first victim. He flicked to short mid-wicket where McCallan took a good catch over his head. 22-6-3. With the left-handed van der Westhuizen in it looked like a rout but, as in the first innings, the Namibian tail was made of sterner stuff than their top order. The last four wickets put on 109. The seventh wicket pair started off the recovery with a stand of 38 in 14 overs. Johnston went off with figures of 8-5-7-2 to be replaced by Botha. Langford-Smith's seven over spell gave him 1-12. Bray was tried for three overs bowling seam up for three runs. A four to wide mid-wicket by van der Westhuizen put up 58 in over 27. It was his last scoring stroke.
McCallan replaced Bray for over 28. Then van der Westhuizen drove his fourth ball to Bray at short mid-off. 57-7-20. Enter, and still at number nine, K Burger, hero of the first innings. Once again he played that role, this time to even better effect. Burger played the last two balls of McCallan's first over without scoring. In McCallan's second over Burger hit a four and the a six over long-on. In McCallan's third over he hit sixes off successive balls, over long-on and long-off. Botha went off (8-2-17-0) without a wicket in the match and Johnston returned. McCallan was given a fourth over which proved the last of the day as rain came again at 5:40 p.m. This last over cost 18 runs. Burger hit the first ball for a four to extra cover. The next two were scoreless. The fourth went high to long-off where Joyce caught it but, realising he could not stop himself stepping over the rope, which would have conceded six, he threw the ball back into the field and it was limited to two. The last ball of the day was another six well over long-off. The score at the close was 109-7, in 34 overs. Ludik, who had come in 19-5, was 18 not out while Burger amassed 42 in 21 balls. The Namibia lead was now 29.
More rain gave Ireland worry on the fourth morning. No more rain actually fell but mopping up took a long time to make the outfield and pitch surrounds playable. Eventually a start could be made at 2:30 p.m. Johnston and Langford-Smith took up the attack for Ireland and K Burger suddenly became very restrained. It appeared that Namibia may have been concentrating on occupying the crease in the hope of more rain and a drawn match. In 14 overs the three remaining wickets were taken, all by Langford-Smith, for 22 runs. In five overs 12 runs were scored, eight of them in singles. The field had four slips to give the maximum possibility of wickets. K Burger added two and four singles from 10 balls. Then, in the sixth over of the day, he launched his first aggressive stroke and was caught at long-on by Gillespie, who did not have to move. 121-8-48. the innings had lasted 32 balls, with five sixes and two fours. Over his two innings Burger scored 87 runs from 52 balls with nine sixes and four fours. He had scored 43% of Namibia's runs scored from the bat. The batsmen had crossed on the catch and Ludik was caught at second slip off the last ball of the same over. He had defended very well for 22 runs in 91 balls. In fact his 91 ball innings was second only in terms of balls faced to Johnston's 121 ball innings for Ireland. 121-9-22. Scholtz and Van Zyl held out for eight overs and scored another 10 runs including a square driven four by Scholtz. Van Zyl was dropped twice in the slips, both off Langford-Smith. The first chance was easy to Botha at second slip, the second one high and difficult to Johnston at first slip. Two balls after the second drop Morgan caught Van Zyl at mid-off.
The final tally was 131 leaving Ireland to get 54 to win. Langford-Smith, with figures of 14-4-22-4, had reduced his Irish bowling average from 77.50 to 27.43. Ireland went into bat at 3:30 p.m. and it was decided not to have a tea interval. Ireland's wobbles were not yet over. K Burger and Van Zyl bowled 17 overs between them. The score was 43-4 when they came off but after 11 overs the score was 25-4!
Bray hit two fours in Van Zyl's second over. Next over he pushed out at Burger and was caught by gully low to his left. 14-1-11. Morgan then joined Porterfield and played very sensibly which was just as well. He was eventually fifth out at 49 when the game had been won. He faced 47 balls and hit two of the five fours in the innings. In five overs Morgan and Porterfield got 10 runs. Then, in over 10, Porterfield drove at Van Zyl without getting over the ball and was caught at gully low and two handed. 24-2-8. Botha, the fourth left-hander in Ireland's first four, arrived but, as the over was up, did not have to face.
Morgan took a single from the first ball of K Burger's sixth over. Botha was bowled pushing at the third ball (35-3-0) and Joyce met a similar fate off the last ball of this over. 25-4-0. Joyce has now scored 66 runs in six innings in 2006.
Gillespie joined Morgan and was careful after his first ball dismissal in the first innings. However, he did start with a four to long-off in Van Zyl's second over. This pair added 24 in nine overs (16 of them to Morgan) and made the game safe. At 48 D Kotze came on for over 18 with his off spin and S Burger replaced K Burger for over 19. The change took the fifth wicket. In Kotze's second over Morgan lost patience, hit out, and skied a catch to mid-off. 49-5-21.
Namibia maintained their attacking field, with five slips, but a three by Gillespie and a four to long leg by Johnston saw Ireland home at 5 p.m. The team will have to play much better than this against Scotland in August if the cup is to be retained.