Ireland and Afghanistan have attained Test status after they were granted full membership by the International Cricket Council.
The ICC met for its annual conference in London on Thursday and confirmed Ireland and Afghanistan as full members after a unanimous vote.
Ireland have been playing as affiliate members since 1993 and have recorded famous victories over Pakistan, England and the West Indies in that time.
Now they will be able to play Test cricket against the world’s best, with Afghanistan also making the step up having only achieved associate membership in 2013.
The ICC confirmed the news on Thursday afternoon, posting on Twitter: “@ACBofficials and @Irelandcricket confirmed as Full Members after a unanimous vote at ICC Full Council meeting.
“Both will now be eligible to play Test cricket following a recommendation that their applications met newly approved member criteria.”
The move sees Ireland and Afghanistan take the total number of member countries to 12 and they are the first to be given Test status since Bangladesh in 2000.
Ireland international Gary Wilson welcomed the news by posting a statement on his own Twitter account.
“An historic day for Irish cricket,” he wrote.
“Years worth of work feels like it has been recognised. There are many people in the background that have made this happen. Current officials, players and management have been major cogs but let’s not forget the tireless volunteers who worked so many years to get us where we are.
“Men who played for free and managed for free. Good men no longer with us like John Wright and John Caldwell, no doubt there are others.
“As well as for us, this is for them. No doubt they would be as delighted as we are. Here’s to the beginning.”
Ireland’s newly appointed Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, offered his congratulations as the country now prepares to host Test cricket for the first time.
“I am delighted that Ireland will take its place among the Test playing nations,” he said. “It’s great news for the game here and a fitting result for many years of hard work and campaigning by Cricket Ireland.
“Ireland has enjoyed some notable successes at International level in the shorter versions of the game. We can now look forward to some great days ahead as Ireland takes on the top Test cricket playing nations in the world.”
The Afghan Cricket Board posted its own message of gratitude.
“Massive thank you to everyone who has played their part in making the dream of Full Membership of ICC a reality,” it wrote on Twitter.—AFP