Nepal will travel to Namibia for a play-off match that will decide the eighth country to play in the revamped InterContinental Cup 2006, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said. The date of the match is yet to be confirmed.

The teams to compete in the event were selected according to their combined ranking of one-day and three-day matches. Nepal’s overall ranking was ninth overall while Namibia was seventh with Holland eighth. Since Holland has qualified for the World Cup 2007, they were preferred. Nepal has been given a chance because it ranks seventh in the multi-day format.

There are also a few changes in the format of the event. The 2006 tournament will see four day matches and the teams will be divided into two groups. The group winners will play the final. This setup will again change in 2007 and 2008 with all eight teams playing a round-robin league over a period of two years.

The new format was agreed at the recent meeting of the ICC Development Committee (held in Kathmandu). And as soon as it is deemed affordable, appropriate and feasible, it is planned to add a second division, bringing with it the opportunity for promotion and relegation, according to ICC.

Commenting on the new format, ICC Global Development Manager Mathew Kennedy said: “This new format means we can truly have the best playing the best for the right to be called the top Associate side at first-class level.

“The existing regional system was an excellent starting point towards establishing the ICC Intercontinental Cup as a major international competition but it did have its limitations.

“With only one team from each of the four regions qualifying for the semi-finals it meant it was not always possible to ensure the four strongest sides reached that knock-out stage.

“This format removes that issue and also gives each side the chance to play more first-class matches.

“And although the playing conditions for the 2006 tournament are yet to be finalised, the switch to four-day matches also means we now have the option to dispense with the current complex bonus points system as the extra time gives us a much better chance to get positive results,” he added.

The two groups for the 2006 ICC Intercontinental Cup are as follows:

Group A: Ireland, Scotland, United Arab Emirates, Namibia or Nepal
Group B: Kenya, Bermuda, Canada, Netherlands