After the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Thursday confirmed that Ireland and Afghanistan are now full members of the world cricket body current and former cricketers alike took to social media congratulating both the sides. This decision means both sides have become the 11th and 12th members of Test cricket’s exclusive group. Almost two decades have passed since Bangladesh were granted Test status. Earlier, ICC CEO David Richardson said that both Afghanistan and Ireland have impressive credentials to be made full members of the world cricket body.

“It’s never wise to try and make a call too early, but certainly the applications of both are very well founded. They both, on the face of it, meet the majority, if not all, of the full member criteria that has been set. I’m optimistic that they’ll be given serious consideration to have every chance of succeeding,” Richardson was quoted, as saying. Afghanistan’s first contact with the sport took place during the 1980s and 1990s, as refugees fled to Pakistan to escape the Soviet invasion.

There are nevertheless questions about how well Afghanistan and Ireland will do in the game’s longest format. Bangladesh famously floundered for their first decade while New Zealand took 26 years to win their first Test. Ireland, meanwhile, have beaten the West Indies, England and Pakistan in their time.

However, standing on the verge of Test status is a far cry from the years when the highlight of Ireland’s season was the visit for a one-off match by the touring Test team to England or, in alternate years, a two-day game at Lord’s against MCC, invariably made up of Minor County players.

The old Irish Cricket Union was founded in 1855 — Phoenix Cricket Club, founded 25 years earlier, is one of the oldest in the British Isles – but it was not until more than a century later that the Ireland team first made the rest of the cricket world take notice.

(Inputs from ANI)