Australia will play Afghanistan in a one-off fixture ahead of their upcoming series with Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, Cricket Australia (CA) has confirmed.
Both sides will also use the fixture as preparation for the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, which begins in September and see Afghanistan making their second straight appearance.
"Everyone in world cricket have been really impressed with how cricket has flourished in Afghanistan, despite its pressing national problems," CA Chief Executive James Sutherland said.
"As an ICC member, CA strongly supports world cricket’s ambition for cricket to continue to develop as a global sport and that, combined with the strong relationships between our two countries, encouraged us to look at how we might recognise and encourage Afghanistan by playing them on the field.
"We also look forward to hosting Afghanistan in the ICC Under-19 World Cup in Australia in August."
A date for the match, or indeed confirmation of whether it will be a One-Day International or a Twenty20 game, has not yet been revealed.
The two sides have never met in international cricket and Afghanistan have only played one ODI against a full member, being defeated by seven wickets in a game against Pakistan.
Speaking from Dubai, newly-installed International Cricket Council (ICC) President Alan Isaac was full of praise for the move.
"This fixture supports ICC’s initiative to provide more opportunities for our top ranking Associate/Affiliate Member (AM) teams to play against better opposition. It aligns perfectly with the ICC Strategic Plan to Build a bigger, better global game by developing more competitive teams at the highest level," he said in a statement released by the ICC.
"We have already seen Pakistan play Afghanistan in Sharjah this year in a high quality match and we must commend Australia for creating this opportunity. It has always been willing to contribute to development by playing against AM nations as it recently showed when it played against Ireland.
"Furthermore, a Combined AM XI played a first-class fixture against England in Dubai, and Bangladesh will soon play against Scotland, Ireland and Netherlands during the Northern Hemisphere summer, while England will continue the rotation of playing Scotland and Ireland in alternate years.
"I am optimistic that the implementation of the Future AM Tour Schedule (FATS) will lead to even more competitive fixtures between the Full Members and our AM nations."
© Cricket World 2012
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