The ICC has announced that Afghanistan and Ireland are now full member nations, which means that they now get Test status.
It is exciting and wonderful news for the hard working cricketers from both the nations who probably dreamt of this day since they started playing cricket.
Even though this is a great news, it also brings about the question if these two nations will be able to get enough competitive games.
The team before these two countries to get Test status was Bangladesh. Bangladesh for a long time struggled to get opportunities to play against the top nations especially away from home.
Bangladesh in their young 17-year career have played just 47 tests away from home, and the majority of their games have been against Sri Lanka against who they have been able to play regularly over the last 17 years.
They only played their first test in India just recently after 17 years of being granted the Test status. They have never played Pakistan in UAE and haven’t toured Australia since 2003.
Out of the 47 Tests 32 have come against four nations which are Sri Lanka, New Zealand, West Indies and Zimbabwe. The rest of the five teams in total have invited Bangladesh only for a grand total of 15 games in 17 years. That does not even equate to even one Test a year.
This is something which the ICC has to guard against. Bangladesh still does not get enough games against the top 5 nations. They haven’t played a game in England since 2010 and in South Africa since 2008. Those are pretty shocking numbers to be honest. When the world is calling Bangladesh a mediocre team in Tests, the stats above tells us why.
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Even though granting Test status to the two deserving teams is a great initiative, ICC needs to make sure that they don’t suffer the same fate as Bangladesh.
Both these teams would be incredibly excited at the prospect of competing against the top nations and it would be a disappointment if they have to resort to just playing with each other all the time.
The individual cricketing boards also have a part to play in this induction. Countries like India, England, Pakistan and Australia need to try and squeeze in series against these two teams regularly, even it is just for a game or two.
I understand that initially there might be lots of one sided games but they will improve with time and with enough opportunities against top teams.
The addition of Bangladesh and now Afghanistan and Ireland is wonderful for cricket in general and sends out a great message for other associate nations.
The rapid strides that Afghanistan has taken will give great confidence to other associate nations to take their cricket seriously.
This is a great day for cricket but again steps have to be taken that these teams are engaged effectively to keep the interest alive in their respective countries.
Hopefully the ICC and the rest of the countries realise that and do their part in development of cricket in these two countries.
Welcome Afghanistan and Ireland, and I hope you have a wonderful time playing Test cricket.