Afghanistan Cricket Board CEO Shafiq Asmat Stanikzai believes his country is on track to become one of the elite forces in today’s cricketing era. Stanikzai highlights the development of youth players as a building block towards achieving greater success in the near future on the global stage.
The Afghanistan Cricket Board was formed in 1995 and became an affiliate member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 2001 and a member of the Asian Cricket Council in 2003. Now, after more than a decade of playing top-class cricket, the Asian nation has been granted full ICC membership (Test status) along with Ireland in a meeting in London last year.
Afghanistan's rise in world cricket has been exciting over the last couple of years. The U-19 side taking major strides towards success and impressing on the global level especially in 2014 when they shocked Australia in the group stages to qualify for the quarter-finals. Since then, some of their players have become household names after plying their trade and impressing in the IPL last year.
Stanikzai has high hopes for the future of the sport in his nation, at a recent press conference on Tuesday Stanikzai said, "We have a lot of good junior players emerging in our country. It is raw talent which needs polish and exposure. We aim to become a competitive Test side in the next three years.”
One outstanding player that the Asian nation has produced is leg-spinner 19-year old Rashid Khan, who has impressed in all formats of the game. He was an essential part of the Sunrisers Hyderabad squad last year taking 17 wickets in the IPL at a stunning economy rate of 6.65.
"We have started our first-class tournament in late 2017. We have been consistent performers in ICC intercontinental tournaments. It's a pity that we can't have our international matches at home but we want to ensure that all our senior players play in the first-class tournament," Stanikzai said the press conference.
It is likely to be Afghanistan’s only Test before the 50-over World Cup next year, which will soon be the major focus for them. They will be part of a 10-team qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe in March, from which the top two will advance to the cricket showpiece in England.
Afghanistan has not been able to practice in their home country for security reasons and India has often been their home base, most recently at Greater Noida. The ACB has requested BCCI for another venue which it can use to play its ‘home’ matches.