The International Cricket Council (ICC) has given Ireland and Afghanistan Full Member status, which means they have become cricket’s eleventh and twelfth Test playing countries. This decision was unanimously signed off on by the ICC’s Full Council members in the board meeting in London on Thursday (June 22).
Ireland and Afghanistan both had applied to the cricket’s governing body to have their status enhanced from Associates to Test playing nations, and have done remarkably well over the years to claim this honor.
Ireland were given ODI status in 2005 after they finished runners-up in the ICC’s tournament, which they hosted too. They participated in their first World Cup two years later, securing a shock upset of Pakistan in Jamaica, and then further played in two subsequent World Cups in which they knock over England and West Indies to press their case.
“Test cricket is the pinnacle, it’s the best. Not being able to play Tests was the reason cited by some players, who weren’t able to achieve that career fulfilment with Ireland, as the reason they went to England,” Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom said.
“That reason is now removed, we can play Tests ourselves. Who can say for certain that players won’t leave in the future, but that can’t be the reason for it now.”
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On the other hand, Afghanistan has grown a lot since they received their ODI cricket status in 2011. After failing to qualify for the World Cup the same year, they have consistently shown glimpses of talent to stand toe-to-toe with Full Member countries. They have won three straight ODI and T20I series over Zimbabwe, and also a victory against over champions West Indies at the 2016 World T20.
“Another day that we can lock in our history and be proud,” Shafiq Stanikzai, ACB chief executive, said, adding there was 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.”
Both countries have shown a great appetite for Test cricket in the Intercontinental Cup; Afghanistan have only lost once in their 20 matches, while Ireland have 24 wins from 37 matches.