The first round of fixtures of the ICC Intercontinental Cup for eight Associate Nations was announced on Tuesday. The winner of this first-class competition will get the chance to play Test cricket in 2018 in an ICC Test Challenge against the lowest-ranked Test team at the time.
The tournament begins on May 10 and will be spread out over two years. Ireland are the defending champions, winning the competition four out of six times since its inception.
"The ICC Intercontinental Cup is now the platform for emerging nations to fulfil their ambitions of playing Test cricket," ICC chief executive David Richardson said. "It will therefore be fantastic to see the strongest Associates face off in an exciting competition, with great context, that will showcase world cricket's growing pool of talent."
Namibia and Hong Kong begin the tournament on May 10, with the other three matches of the first round featuring Ireland, Afghanistan, UAE, Scotland, Netherlands and Papua New Guinea scheduled to be played in June.
The line-up for the first round of the ICC World Cricket League, a one-day tournament for the Associates that takes place along with the Intercontinental Cup, was also released. Kenya and Nepal have been included among the eight participating teams in place of Afghanistan and Ireland, who have earned one-day status and are now part of the Future Tours Programme.