Afghanistan and Ireland were granted Test Status by the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Thursday at ICC Full Council meeting in London, meaning they have become cricket’s 11th and 12th Test-playing nations.
Afghanistan and Ireland’s boards had applied to the ICC to have their status upgraded from Associates and this was put to vote at the meeting on Thursday and unanimously supported.
“I’d like to congratulate Afghanistan and Ireland on their Full Membership status which is the result of their dedication to improving performance both off and on the field resulting in the significant development and growth of cricket in their respective countries,” ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said.
“Both have clearly demonstrated they meet the new criteria and as such have made the progression to Full Membership,” Richardson added.
Afghanistan will now be able to play Test cricket, which is considered the pinnacle or the highest standard in this sporting code. All Full Member nations are automatically qualified to play ODIs and Twenty20 Internationals.
“For a nation like Afghanistan it is a huge and remarkable achievement, the entire nation will be celebrating across all five regions and different provinces, it is the perfect Eid gift,” said Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), Chief Executive, Shafiq Stanikzai.
“Everyone has waited for this news and has been so keen to hear this news. Afghanistan Cricket has gone from strength to strength and we dared to dream that this would happen and today it has become a reality,” Stanikzai added.
Thanking the ICC and the board for the achievement, Stanikzai further said that there is still more work to be done.
“Every achievement is great, but it opens the door to challenges. We’ll be hosting our international matches in Greater Noida and Sharjah, there should be a day when we can host inside Afghanistan,” he said, cited by Espncricinfo.
No Test matches have yet been scheduled for the two newcomers but the ACB Chief Executive stated that Afghanistan will soon play their first ever test match against other Full Members of the ICC.
“I cannot lock the date, but obviously the reputation Afghanistan cricket has, I can say that we will be playing our first ever test match sooner rather than later,” Stanikzai concluded.