The Afghanistan Cricket Board is understood to have expressed a keenness to the ICC to apply for Full Member status, though is yet to formally apply, ESPNcricinfo has learned. The application is likely to be made in February and considered at the ICC meeting then, with Afghanistan currently preparing a comprehensive report to satisfy the ICC’s requirements.
According to the ICC’s criteria, a team applying for admission as a Full Member must have a full-fledged cricketing and administrative infrastructure in the country. The ICC’s guideline criteria for Full Membership states: “A country must play regular first-class cricket (domestic 3-4 day competition) before playing Test cricket. Number of teams and players – sufficiently large pool of players to draw from capable of performing at the highest level of the game.”
Afghanistan gained Affiliate membership in 2001 and were granted Associate status in 2013. In 2009, the team was given ODI status and, over the last few years, the ACB has undergone extensive organisational restructuring to provide better leadership and find qualified staff to run cricket administration in the war-torn country.
The ACB is also upgrading its cricket infrastructure. There is a four-day tournament between five regional teams, and four one-day tournaments (three provincial and one national, featuring regional teams). There is at least one cricket ground in every region and a national cricket academy in Kabul, along with a development structure for teams from the youth to the senior levels.
An ACB spokesperson told ESPNcricinfo that the four-day tournament was yet to get first-class status, but the board has applied to the ICC for this. “We don’t have that recognition yet; in 2011 we started the three-day tournament and then in 2014 we started the four-day tournament. We have a grade-three 50-overs tournament between 16 provinces, a grade-two tournament between 16 provinces and a grade-one competition between eight provinces and the regional one-day cup. The proposal is sent to the ICC and we are hopeful to get the recognition in the ICC meeting in February.”
Afghanistan have played 70 ODIs so far, winning 35 games, and played at their first World Cup in 2015. In T20Is, they have won 32 out of 51 matches and have played in four editions of the World T20. The team is currently ranked tenth in ODIs and ninth in the T20I rankings.