Afghanistan are slowly becoming the team to watch out for
The heads of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) have agreed to back Afghanistan for associate membership of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in light of their rapid progress in the sport.
The support from the ACC comes after Afghanistan participated in their second ICC World Twenty20, their first being back in 2010.
If Afghanistan achieve associate membership, they will only be one level below playing international Test cricket, and the ACC believe that the vision of Afghanistan becoming a global cricketing power will spur on many of their players, who learnt the game in refugee camps, to work harder.
Afghanistan won the right to play ODI cricket back in 2009, and despite not looking so convincing in their first few matches, many cricket pundits believe it is only a matter of time before their rise to stardom begins.
The ACC chief executive Ashraful Haq said: “Afghanistan has been the strongest side among the affiliate members of the ICC, so we are backing them for promotion and we hope that they will live up to that promotion.”
Afghanistan will now have to wait till next June at the annual ICC talks in order to find out whether they will become associate members or not.
Currently, the ICC has 10 full members, 36 associates and 60 affiliate members.
Afghanistan captain Nawroz Mangal, who learnt how to play the game at a refugee camp in Pakistan after his family fled Afghanistan during the Russian invasion in 1979, stated that he was pleased with the amount of progress the team had made, and that he hoped they would be able to obtain an associate membership.
Afghanistan’s cricket team is so beloved back home, that even the Taliban, who banned the sport under their rule, are avid supporters.
Despite losing to India and England in their group matches during the ICC World Twenty20, Afghanistan still showed a lot of improvement from the 2010 tournament.
Haq went on to say that he expected China to also become a big cricketing power in the future.
“I’m hoping in the next 10 years they will start playing a high level of cricket. I am not sure if they will be a Test nation by then, but surely they are somewhere near playing top-level cricket. Cricket is getting popular among Asian countries and we would be processing the applications of Tajikistan, Chinese Taipei and Cambodia in the near future. The development of Oman is high on the agenda of the ACC. We want cricket to be played everywhere. The ACC are here for the minnows, and are working to promote them. While Afghanistan have reached such heights, Oman will be next in line, as they have got all the facilities there,” he added.