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ICC grants Test status to Afghanistan, Ireland

Afghanistan are now eligible to play the traditional five-day game
Afghanistan are now eligible to play the traditional five-day game

In what will be a big boost to both Afghanistan and Ireland, the International Cricket Council has confirmed Test status for the two countries during their board meeting in London on Thursday.

Ireland have made giant strides in international cricket ever since they first qualified to the 2007 World Cup during which they defeated Pakistan. William Porterfield's men have been constantly pushing other full member countries since then and also managed to qualify for the 2011 and 2015 editions as well.

Afghanistan on the other hand are on a constant rise since 2011 when they were awarded One-Day International status and became a force to reckon among the associate teams. They qualified for the World Cup for the first time in the 2015 edition and also in the subsequent 2016 World T20, where they defeated the eventual champions West Indies in the group stage.

ICC chief executive Dave Richardson congratulated both the teams and lauded their growth in international cricket.

"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," said Richardson.

"Both have clearly demonstrated they meet the new criteria and as such have made the progression to Full Membership."

Ireland captain William Porterfield described the news as a "special" one.

“It’s wonderful news for all of Irish cricket, with all the players already talking about playing in a Test match for the first time,” said Porterfield.

“We’ve all played in World Cups and achieved some memorable results along the way, but to play in a Test would be a bit special.

"You dream as a youngster growing up of playing at the highest level and for me the opportunity to lead Ireland in their first Test match would be an incredible experience.”

Meanwhile, Afghanistan Cricket Board CEO Shafiq Stanikzai was delighted with the news and believes the team can only get better from here.

"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 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."

The addition of the two members has increased the number of full members from 10 to 12.

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