Home | Opinions | Social | Sport | Afghanistan cricket celebrates ‘big dream’ coming true

Afghanistan cricket celebrates ‘big dream’ coming true

Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font
Afghanistan cricket celebrates ‘big dream’ coming true
 Afghanistan celebrated its entry into Test cricket on Thursday, saying it was a dream came true for the country which has suffered from years of violence and conflict.
The International Cricket Council voted in London to make Afghanistan, along with Ireland, full members of the organization, allowing those countries to become part of the elite 12 nations who play Test matches.
“I can’t express right now how excited I am,” said Shir Agha Hamkar, Afghanistan cricket’s team manager.
“It was a big dream of the cricket board, our team and every Afghan. Afghanistan has made tremendous progress, in the last few years. We have been playing very good cricket, beating full members like Zimbabwe,” he said at a celebration where a special cake was shared to mark the occasion.
“Thanks to all the players as well. They have shown their talent to the world and shown that yes, we deserve to be a full member nation,” he said.
Afghanistan are likely to play their first Test match in 2018 and are expected to continue to play home games in the Indian city of Noida due to security concerns.
“Today is a historic day for the Afghan people because in such a political situation of Afghanistan, Afghan cricket has obtained full membership status. Today is a historic day for Afghanistan, every Afghan is happy,” said Dost Mohammad Nazari, deputy head of the Afghanistan Cricket Board.
Cricket has undergone a boom in recent years in Afghanistan with the rise of Twenty20 cricket, its big-hitting and constant action generating huge interest among fans. A new generation of supporters has avidly followed the team’s growing success.
“This is a huge thing for the whole nation. We’re all proud of this cricket team and cricket board,” said journalist Rahim Gul Sarwan.
“We’re so happy and I hope that in the next five or three years, Afghanistan will be in a position to beat big teams in the cricket world.”
Announcing the decision on Thursday night, David Richardson, the ICC Chief Executive said: “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.
“Both have clearly demonstrated they meet the new criteria and as such have made the progression to Full Membership,” he said.
As a Full Member, Afghanistan will now be able to play Test cricket, which is considered the pinnacle, or the highest standard, in this sporting code. Also, all Full Member nations are automatically qualified to play ODIs and Twenty20 Internationals.
Test cricket is the longest form of cricket and is considered its highest standard and matches are played only between national teams that enjoy this status.
After Thursday’s board meeting, the total number of countries to have Test status rose from 10 to 12 – Afghanistan and Ireland being the two new nations. The last nation to gain Full Membership was Bangladesh, 17 years ago.
A Test match sees two national teams of 11 players play a four-innings match, which may last up to five days (or longer in some historical cases).
It is generally considered the most complete examination of a team’s playing ability and endurance and the name Test stems from the long, grueling match being a “test” of the relative strengths of the two sides.
The ICC currently has 105 members and membership is a hierarchy system. There are three categories of membership: Full Members, Associate Members, and Affiliate Members.
In the highest category, there are 12 Full Members; the 2nd category has 37 Associate Members and lowest category has 56 Affiliate Members.
The Afghanistan Cricket Board was formed in 1995 and became an Affiliate Member of the ICC in 2001 and was awarded Associate Member status in 2013.
For Afghanistan, their rise in cricket has been phenomenal and Thursday’s decision by the ICC was the culmination of years of hard work and dedication by the cricket sector in the country, including the players.  
As ESPN stated, since 2005, both countries have demonstrated their readiness for five-day cricket through their dominance in the Intercontinental Cup, the ICC’s first-class competition for Associates.
Afghanistan and Ireland currently sit in the top-two spots in the current edition of the competition, and Afghanistan holds a one-point lead after securing an innings victory at Greater Noida over Ireland earlier this year.
But these two teams will now be leaving the Intercontinental Cup behind at the end of the year, and start playing Test cricket with the world’s top teams.
No Test matches have as yet been scheduled for the two newcomers but it is widely speculated that Afghanistan and Ireland will meet each other next year in their maiden Test matches.
The Full List Of Test Nations Are As Follows:
Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Zimbabwe, West Indies, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, England and Ireland. 
The Kabul Times