ICC Intercontinental Cup 2005 April 5, 2005

Namibia stage ICC finals

Cricinfo staff

Craig Wright will be aiming for another final © Getty Images

The closing stages of the 2005 ICC Intercontinental Cup will be held in Namibia, with the semi-finals and final being staged in Windhoek. The ICC announced that the semi-finals will take place between October 23-25 and the final will start on October 27.

Laurie Pieters, the President of the Namibia Cricket Board, said preparations for the finals were already well advanced. "The awarding of the finals of this prestigious ICC event to our country is a major boost for cricket and those that love the sport in Namibia. We already have the grounds and facilities required and preparations have now begun to ensure that we are ready to welcome the regional winners."

Namibia is rapidly gaining a name as one of the up and coming nations on the second rung of international cricket. Some promising performances in the 2003 World Cup have been followed by further exposure to top-level cricket. England warmed up for their tour of Zimbabwe with two matches against the national side, and Namibia is proving a popular venue for training camps and pre-season tours.

The second season of the Intercontinental Cup will begin later this month, after being introduced last season to bring competitive first-class cricket to the countries below Test cricket. The reigning champions, Scotland, will begin their title defence three months later with a difficult away tie, against Holland on July 29-31.

Hong Kong is the only new side in the 12-team tournament, replacing Malaysia in the Asia regional qualifiers. The Americas region will he decided during an intense period of matches with the three qualifying games scheduled for Toronto from August 23 to September 2. The winners of each of the four regions will qualify for the semi-finals.