Australia news July 2, 2012

Australia to play Afghanistan in UAE

ESPNcricinfo staff

Australia will play Afghanistan for the first time next month, as a warm-up for the series against Pakistan in the UAE. Although the details of the Pakistan series are still being finalised, Cricket Australia has confirmed that a one-off match with Afghanistan, most likely a one-day international, will be held ahead of the Pakistan series in an effort to assist with Afghanistan's cricketing development.

If the game is an ODI it will be Afghanistan's second against an ICC full member, after they lost to Pakistan in Sharjah in February. Although Afghanistan did not qualify for last year's World Cup they have one-day international status valid until 2013 and have had wins over Kenya, Canada, Netherlands and Scotland, having won more than half of the games they have played.

"Everyone in world cricket have been really impressed with how cricket has flourished in Afghanistan, despite its pressing national problems," James Sutherland, the chief executive of Cricket Australia, said. "As an ICC member, CA strongly supports world cricket's ambition for cricket to continue to develop as a global sport and that, combined with the strong relationships between our two countries, encouraged us to look at how we might recognise and encourage Afghanistan by playing them on the field."

Afghanistan will be part of the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka in September, where they have found themselves in a very difficult group with India and England. They also played in the 2010 World T20 and will be competing in the Under-19 World Cup in August, to be held in Australia.

The ICC president Alan Isaac welcomed the news of the game. "This fixture supports ICC's initiative to provide more opportunities for our top ranking Associate/Affiliate Member (AM) teams to play against better opposition," he said.

"We have already seen Pakistan play Afghanistan in Sharjah this year in a high quality match and we must commend Australia for creating this opportunity. It has always been willing to contribute to development by playing against AM nations as it recently showed when it played against Ireland."

The date and venue for the Afghanistan-Australia match will not be confirmed until Pakistan and Australia finalise the structure of their series. The PCB has proposed a series of three ODIs and three T20s, despite the ICC granting permission for a six-match T20 series due to the extreme heat during the daytime in the UAE in August and September.