Afghanistan has joined an elite list of countries eligible to compete at the highest level of test cricket after it was voted a full member of the International Cricket Council (ICC).
The ICC voted unanimously on June 22 to allow Afghanistan and Ireland to become the 11th and 12th countries to be allowed to face other world powers in five-day test cricket matches, considered the sport’s ultimate honor.
Afghanistan Cricket Board Chief Executive Shafiq Stanikzai called it a “huge and remarkable achievement” for his country.
“The entire nation will be celebrating,” he added. "We dared to dream that this would happen, and today it has become a reality."
Cricket gained popularity in the country during the 1980s and 1990s, brought back by refugees who had fled to Pakistan after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
ICC chief David Richardson said Afghanistan and Ireland deserved full membership based on "their dedication to improving performance both off and on the field, resulting in the significant development and growth of cricket in their respective countries."
The last country to be bestowed the honor was Bangladesh in 2000.
Other countries in the elite group are founder members Australia and England, along with South Africa, New Zealand, the West Indies, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Zimbabwe.