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2005 Intercontinental Cup

The 2005 InterContinental Cup was played once again along similar lines to the inaugural competition with 12 teams split across four regions, with the group winners playing semi-finals and a final in Namibia.

Two teams were playing for the first time with Nepal replacing Malaysia, while the Cayman Islands were a last-minute substitute for USA, who had been suspended by ICC for financial mismanagement and poor administration.

The groups were as follows:

  • Africa: Kenya, Namibia, Uganda.
  • Europe: Ireland, Netherlands, Scotland (holders)
  • Americas: Bermuda, Canada, Cayman Islands.
  • Asia: Hong Kong, Nepal, UAE.

The Asian group was won by UAE, who opened up with a win against Hong Kong. Ilyas Gul took five wickets as both teams made 127 in their first innings. Chasing 185 to win, the Emiratis coasted to a seven wicket win thanks to Khurram Khan’s second half century of the game.

Rain badly affected Nepal’s home match against Hong Kong and despite Binod Das taking six wickets as HK made just 91, Nepal also struggled before declaring on 101 for 7. More rain saw play abandoned with the visitors on 37 for 3.

This was to prove crucial in the final standings as despite Nepal beating UAE in their game, they finished an agonizing half point behind. Half centuries from Shakti Gauchan and Vesawkar laid the foundation for a total of 287 and Binod Das got his second five wicket haul in an emphatic 172-run win – not enough though.

Kenya as expected won the African region but were closely followed by Namibia who pushed them all the way. The first match saw the old firm of Steve Tikolo and Thomas Odoyo star in a win over Uganda. Tikolo made 149 and 54 with the bat, while Odoyo took five wickets in the first innings, while Lameck Onyango Ngoche – one of four siblings to represent Kenya – took a six wicket haul in the second.

Namibia won their match against Uganda as they chased 242 to win by three wickets – fifties for Jan-Berry Burger, Stephan Swanepoel and Deon Kotze to set up the final game against Kenya nicely.

Kenya posted 300 in their first innings, with Tikolo, Maurice Ouma, and Collins Obuya all getting runs. Namibia, thanks to 87 from Louis Burger and 75 from Gerrie Syman took a 35-run lead to offer some hope, but Kenya’s batting was solid second time around again as Martin Suji and Kennedy Otieno took them to 282. Namibia were struggling on 68 for 5 when time ran out.

The Americas group saw Bermuda win both their games, which looked a remote possibility as Umar Bhatti’s eight wicket haul saw them dismissed for 125 in their clash with Canada in Toronto – Clay Smith making 51. Ashish Bagai hit 76 as Canada made 202 – four wickets for Dwayne Leverock and Saleem Mukuddem. At 116 for 5, Canada seemed destined to win but the contest was turned on its head by Janeiro Tucker (123) and Dean Minors (66) who added 116 to help Bermuda to 311 and a 53-run win.

They sealed their semi-final place with a comprehensive innings win against Cayman islands, the highlights of which were 11 wickets for Leverock and centuries for Smith and Irving Romaine. The final match between Canada and Bermuda was a dead rubber, which was won easily by Canada with Desmond Maxwell making a century, seven wickets for Henry Osinde in the first innings and five by Sunil Dhaniram in the second.

The European group was badly affected by the weather with both of the Netherlands' games getting very little play. In their match with Scotland less than 84 overs were played as it petered out, Scotland making 217 and the Dutch 31 for 0. Their match in Belfast was a boring draw with the Irish top five all passing 50. Jeremy Bray made a hundred, while there were half centuries for Jason Molins, Andre Botha, Dom Joyce and Peter Gillespie. Ryan ten Doeschate’s 84 was the highlight of the Dutch reply as rain was never too far away.

Alexei Kervezee made 43 in the match against Ireland in BelfastAlexei Kervezee made 43 in the match against Ireland in Belfast (© CricketEurope)

The decisive contest in the group was at Aberdeen where the holders Scotland took on Ireland in a see-saw contest. Craig Wright took four wickets as the Irish posted 172 – with Greg Thompson making 35 in a last wicket stand of 44 with Adrian McCoubrey. How crucial those runs would be. Scotland responded with 234 for 9 – Cedric English top scoring with 66. The Irish again struggled to find fluency and were indebted to Dom Joyce’s 61 to give their attack something to bowl at – Dewald Nel, Ryan Watson and Gregor Maiden taking three wickets apiece.

A chase of 135 should have been straightforward for the strong home side line-up but the pressure got to them with a new ball burst by McCoubrey – who took four early wickets – proving crucial. The contest was still there for Scotland to win as Craig Wright thumped two huge sixes despite an injured hand to get them within one blow. However he smashed a drive back at Kyle McCallan who deflected it onto the stumps to seal a run out and a three-run win.

Neil MacRae was one of Irish pace bowler Adrian McCoubrey's four victims as Scotland lost narrowly at AberdeenNeil MacRae was one of Irish pace bowler Adrian McCoubrey's four victims as Scotland lost narrowly at Aberdeen (© CricketEurope)

The semi-finals were held in Windhoek at the end of October and it saw the favourites progress. Kenya were always in control of their clash with Bermuda as Steve Tikolo’s 220 – the first double century of the competition – saw him and Maurice Ouma (98*) share a fourth wicket stand of 341 as they made 403 for 6. Bermuda responded with 346 for 9, as Clay Smith made a hundred and Irving Romaine and Dean Minors also passed 50. With Kenya ahead on points they batted out for the draw, with Suji making a century in their 282 for 4.

The Irish batters found the conditions equally helpful in their clash with UAE. Eoin Morgan hit 151 and Trent Johnston took five wickets as they secured a first innings lead of 161. Ahead on points they batted UAE out of the game as second time around they made 444 for 4 declared, with a second wicket stand of 304 between Jeremy Bray (190) and Niall O’Brien (176). Set a notional 606 to win, UAE did salvage some pride as they held out for a draw, finishing on 227 for 8 – Sameer Zia making 12 not out from 92 balls and Ali Asad 4 off 38 – thank Gid I wasn’t there to photograph it!

And so to the final between two of the Associate world’s superpowers, with Kenya fancied to beat Ireland. The African side were badgering ICC for Full membership and a win here would all but seal the deal, having been to a World Cup semi-final two years previously.

The win looked assured when on another main road of a track, Steve Tikolo hit 27 fours in his 177 as he and Hitesh Modi (106) added 267 for the fourth wicket as they made 401 for 4. Ireland also batted well as Niall O’Brien hit another hundred, sharing a stand of 165 with Andre Botha (78). When Botha was dismissed, there was much confusion in the Kenyan ranks as Ireland declared 88 runs behind despite having more than 11 overs left to bat.

‘The DT declaration’ as its gone down in Irish cricketing folklore was a plan hatched between David Townsend, a journalist, and Irish captain Trent Johnston. How would it look if Kenya batted out for a draw instead of trying to impress ICC by beating Ireland? They played on the fact that Kenya’s pride was at stake.

Caught in two minds Kenya were unsure to stick or twist and in the event did neither. The Irish fielded and caught superbly, with one of the turning points being late wickets by Andy White on the second day, with the Suji brothers dismissed from successive balls. Kyle McCallan got the huge wicket of Tikolo on the last morning and thereafter the game was always going to be Ireland’s. Set 242 to win the Irish romped home by six wickets with an hour to spare – runs for all the batters. Irish spinners Kyle McCallan and Andrew White shared the Man of the Match award.

Ireland celebrate after their win in the final against KenyaIreland celebrate after their win in the final against Kenya (© CricketEurope)

The loss was a huge blow for Kenyan cricket, and they never did achieve Full Membership, while for Ireland it was the catalyst to a decade in which they dominated Associate cricket, culminating in Test Status in 2018.