Netherlands will strive to take the home advantage when it faces debutant Papua New Guinea (PNG) in the four-day first-class Intercontinental Cup 2015-17 in Amsterdam on Tuesday, 16 June. This will be the final match of the first round, which earlier saw Namibia defeat Hong Kong and Ireland earn 20 maximum points against the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The match between former champions – Scotland and Afghanistan – was marred by poor weather but Scotland still managed to claim 13 points against Afghanistan’s seven after only one innings was completed.
The ICC Intercontinental Cup is a pathway to Test cricket. The side that wins the eight-team round-robin tournament spread over two-and-a-half years will play the 10th-ranked side on the Reliance ICC Test Team Rankings (as at 31 December 2017) in the four-match ICC Test Challenge during 2018. If the Associate Member wins the series, to be played on a home and away basis, then it will become the 11th Test nation.
Tuesday’s game will mark the Netherlands seventh appearance in the Intercontinental Cup. In all, it has played 26 matches, winning four, losing 14 and drawing eight. Cricket was introduced to The Netherlands by British soldiers during the Napoleonic Wars in the 19th Century and the Netherlands national team played its first-ever game in 1881 and became an Associate Member of the ICC in 1966.
Ryan ten Doeschate’s 259 not out against Canada in 2006 is the highest individual score in the competition’s history. For PNG, Tuesday marks the latest exciting chapter in its cricket history as it plays its inaugural Intercontinental Cup match. Organised competitions have been played since the 1950s and PNG became an Associate Member of the ICC in 1973.
Looking ahead to the historic tie, Netherlands captain Peter Borren, who is expected to lead his side in Amsterdam, said: ‘We are very much looking forward to hosting PNG for the first time. We know they are a talented bunch and I’m sure the series will provide the Dutch cricketing public with real entertainment. The Intercontinental Cup gives us a rare opportunity to test ourselves in the multi-day format of cricket. We are determined to perform well in the tournament and will be aiming for nothing less than an outright win to kick start our campaign. We have an experienced squad who have been working very hard in recent times; a strong batting line-up, with Wesley Baressi and Rahil Ahmed the ones to watch. Our bowling attack is nicely balanced, giving me plenty of options in the field. Look out for Timm Van Der Gugten with the new ball. We can’t wait. Red ball cricket at the beautiful VRA Cricket Ground in Amstelveen, it doesn’t get better than that!’
PNG captain Jack Vare-Kevere added: ‘Every cricketing country would one day like to play Test cricket and the ICC Intercontinental Cup offers a great pathway for countries like PNG into Test cricket. It is a great feeling for the players to be representing Papua New Guinea in our first-ever Intercontinental Cup match and we are all looking forward to the experience. Netherlands obviously has the home ground advantage and had the wood on us last time in the 50-over format, but we just need to do the basics right and stick to our plans. The boys have prepared really well for this series and can’t wait to get out there. We have a couple of returning faces in the squad with Sese Bau and Loa Nou coming back in after a couple of years. They’ve come back hungrier and stronger than ever and combined with the rest of the squad I am confident that we have brought a really strong and eager team for this match.’