As per the rules of the International Cricket Council, there are two memberships in the game of cricket- Permanent and Associate memberships. Till date there are 12 Permanent members, which include Afghanistan and Ireland who got their permanent memberships (test status) earlier this year.
Many efforts are being put forward by the ICC to globalise the game of cricket – like conducting several tournaments among Associate nations across the year, which helps them to develop their game and compete against the top sides.
By achieving test status Afghanistan and Ireland have already passed a warning to the bottom placed teams in the test rankings. Let us have a look at the rise of these teams in International Cricket over the years.
The Rise of Afghanistan:
No one would have expected a country like Afghanistan to make such long strides in International cricket. But they surprised everyone by beating their counterparts on quite a consistent basis and making it to the top ten in the ICC ODI team rankings.
They achieved their ODI status in 2009 when they finished sixth in the world cup qualification tournament held in South Africa.
Their first major win was in the Desert T20 challenge 2017 which was held in Dubai where they destroyed every side on their way to the glory. The eight Associate Members that have T20I status were scheduled to take part in that tournament.
After that they went on to beat Zimbabwe in a five match series 3-2, which was their most prominent win in the ODI format. Later on they drew the 3 match ODI series against Windies, as one match was abandoned due to rain.
Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Mohammad Shahzad are amongst the key members of this Afghanistan side.
Rashid Khan, the 18 year old leg-spinner has become a sensation in the cricketing world with his outstanding bowling in T20 tournaments across the world along with his career best figures of 7/18 against Windies in an ODI held in St. Lucia on 09th June 2017. He is fast proving himself to be one of the world’s best.
With a quite a few youngsters like Rahmat Shah and Javed Ahmadi also making an impact, Asghar Stanikzai led Afghanistan is one of the teams to watch for, in the future.
Ireland first gained ODI status in 2005 after finishing runners-up in the ICC Trophy tournament, which they hosted, to gain their first World Cup berth.
Two years later they shocked everyone by beating Pakistan in the 2007 world cup held in West Indies. Never looking back since then, they qualified for the two subsequent world cups and followed on by creating quite a stir by upsetting topsides like England and West Indies in those tournaments.
Ireland finished as runners-up at the Desert T20 challenge, when they lost to Afghanistan in the finals. Unlike Afghanistan, their rise in world cricket is a quite a long time story.
Ireland mainly rely on their skipper William Porterfield along with all-rounders Paul Stirling and Kevin O’Brien and the former England International Ed Joyce.
There is no doubt whatsoever about the talent they possess as a side, but they are still left to prove their consistency in order to compete against the top nations. However, as a team they have already proved that they can beat the best on their day.
Nevertheless, these teams should be competing against the bottom ranked teams on a regular basis to improve their game and to establish themselves in the cricketing world.