Ireland And Afghanistan Are Set To Get Test Status

| June 21 , 2017 , 12:12 IST

Afghanistan and Ireland are two teams that have steadily grown over the years in cricket and they are set to join the Elite's of the game as the ICC has decided to elevate the two teams and give them test status.

If approved, Afghanistan and Ireland will be the first new Test countries since Bangladesh’s promotion to the sport’s most exclusive club in 2000. Both could play their debut Test matches next year.

Test cricket is still widely regarded as the summit of the sport, even as its popularity has been usurped by the faster, flashier version of the game known as Twenty20. The addition of two new nations hints at a new attempt by the I.C.C., cricket’s global governing body, to expand the Test game rather than use Twenty20 alone to increase the sport’s global profile.

More broadly, the move also suggests a newfound willingness to invest in emerging nations to improve competitiveness. Ireland has lost three players to England since 2005, but Test status would markedly increase the team’s chances of retaining the country’s best cricketers.

Today, Afghanistan is ranked in the top 10 in both one-day internationals and T20 cricket. Afghanistan also has built a formidable cricket player pool as well as a youth system that has eroded the country’s past reliance on refugees from Pakistan. The sport has also helped unify the country’s disparate groups. “It brings peace to every tribe,” Mohammad Nabi, Afghanistan’s former captain, said.

Ireland has overcome different obstacles. While cricket has deep roots in Ireland and had appeal throughout the country during the second half of the 19th century, the sport suffered for its associations with England. Cricket was widely viewed as an English sport, especially in the Republic of Ireland. Ed Joyce, a leading Irish batsman, has said that as a boy he regularly hid his cricket equipment when travelling on trains in Dublin.

An all-Ireland team formally joined the I.C.C. in 1993, but the sport’s progress in the country remained slow. In 2001, Ireland used a journalist as a substitute fielder during a qualification tournament. “It was Mickey Mouse cricket,” Joyce later said.

(inputs from new york times)