World T20 2016 March 22, 2016

Stanikzai calls for Full Members to front up

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Chappell: Consider a combined Associate team for World Cup

Asghar Stanikzai, the Afghanistan captain, has welcomed the call from a trio of former international captains, Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Michael Vaughan, for greater opportunities to be given to Associate nations, and has challenged cricket's senior sides to offer his team bilateral series in which their true ability and progress could be assessed.

In the wake of Afghanistan's spirited showing against South Africa in Mumbai on Sunday, in which Mohammad Shahzad's blistering 44 from 19 balls briefly threatened an upset, Vaughan took to Twitter to reiterate his criticism of the 10-team format that has been agreed for the next World Cup in 2019.

"Such a shame we won't see Countries like Afghanistan in the next WC.It's refreshing and great for the game.Please change your minds @ICC," he wrote.

His sentiments were echoed by Lara and later Tendulkar, who added: "Completely agree. Spirit & performance of teams like Afghanistan & Oman echo the need for more teams at WC & beyond!"

Speaking on the eve of Afghanistan's penultimate Group 1 showdown, against England in Delhi, Stanikzai said that his players had been emboldened by the support, and stated that their ambition was to claim at least one Full Member scalp in their remaining two Super 10s fixtures.

"Definitely, it's been highly proud for us that we are hearing such tweets from cricket legends," he said. "It is true that the team is playing good cricket, so definitely we need ICC support for the upcoming World Cup [in 2019].

"In this World Cup many people thought that our games would be one-sided, but now [our opponents] are really preparing and planning, and scaring to be honest, that this is a side which can beat us.

"Our guys have the potential so we need the ICC's support," he added. "Definitely we are eager to play in each and every World Cup, and we have requested Full Members to play a series with us. If you only play one game with a team, you cannot compare how good they are, but if you play two or three matches, you have a good chance to beat them."

In the past six months alone, Afghanistan have proven this point handsomely with home and away series victories against Zimbabwe, in both ODIs and T20Is. They won 3-2 and 2-0 respectively in Bulawayo in October, before repeating the same scoreline in Sharjah two months later.

"We have beaten them in all of them, we have won four series against a Full Member," said Stanikzai. "So you can see how competitive we would be if we were given the chance in the upcoming World Cup."

Eoin Morgan, England's captain, also leant his support to Afghanistan's cause, adding that his experiences with Ireland in the early part of his international career demonstrate the importance of nurturing emerging nations.

"I think it is very important for the sport to grow," said Morgan. "Associate nations are key in evolving our sport and giving them as much opportunities as we can."

Asked whether he would welcome the prospect of playing Afghanistan in a bilateral series in the future, Morgan was cautiously positive about the prospect.

"Certainly, as an England captain sitting here and captaining guys who play in all three formats of the game, I know the gruelling schedules they go through and the need for time off.

"But I can see a time when we do play tri-series against different sides, not necessarily with our strongest side, but with as good a side as we can at the time and giving some guys a bit of a break. I see that coming down the line."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets @miller_cricket

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cricinfouser on March 23, 2016, 11:23 GMT

    would like to see world cup with more groups a bit like soccer. give more oportunity to associates. Vould have 16+ Teams. Billateral series are a bit trickier. there would have to be longer gaps between when counties play each other no good to burn out players or have teams that are watered down

  • Yousufahmed1 on March 23, 2016, 9:36 GMT

    @ WAAPBANG That means India and AFG are the 2 top teams of Asia. Fair enough if u ask me. PAK are behind them and then UAE and Nepal.

  • MKLNarayan on March 23, 2016, 9:14 GMT

    @Darthmal - Probably 6 local citizens rule will impact England more than the associates ;-)

  • CHUMOFS on March 23, 2016, 8:51 GMT

    No support from South African, Australia and New Zealand cricketers?

  • DarthMaul on March 23, 2016, 3:25 GMT

    Wouldn't mind introducing a requirement of at least 6 natural-born citizens in every international team so that countries like Oman, HK and the UAE where cricket has no presence beyond expats can be weeded out and countries like Afghanistan, Ireland and the Netherlands have a better chance of qualifying for ICC events and rising to the top.

  • ferball5 on March 23, 2016, 0:16 GMT

    ICC need to tighten rules that allow expats to compete for both associate and test nations so that teams like Hong Kong with no real cricketing future can be disposed of and teams like Ireland can have access to their own talent rather than being allowed to freely play for England.

  • udhayp on March 22, 2016, 17:22 GMT

    Likewise Ireland is putting everything behind attaining the test status and has won all their intercontinental cup matches so far and leading the table. PNG has won their first ever First class match against Netherlands in the Intercontinental cup, though they have lost the next 2. Afghanistan is also showing that they belong at this longer format too. Hope one of the associate nations win against the lowest ranking test team in 2017. I am betting on Ireland to do it. Teams like Ireland, Netherlands who have been playing Cricket at this level for a longer time never had a lot of match experience against full member teams in ODI or T20I despite proving that they can be competitive. What is the point of giving them ODI/T20I international status and not playing them more often? When the full member teams with so much experience talk about wanting to have warm up matches when they tour another country, is it not reasonable that associate teams expect more matches?

  • udhayp on March 22, 2016, 16:42 GMT

    @ALI_EBADOT - Afghan ranks higher than BD in T20Is and higher than Ireland and Zimbabwe in ODIs. They have a decent first class setup that feeds players to the national team. Shehzad was not even there in the 2015 WC squad, Samiullah Shenwari was their hero then. Rashid Khan is all of 17 yrs old and fast tracked to the national team, with more match experience, he is likely to become a top spinner in the world. The passion shown by their supporters for the sport and their team is HUGE. They are a cricket nation. Unlike other associate teams, who do not get support from their federal governments and whose only source of money for developing infrastructure is ICC, Afghan govt has invested/investing in cricket stadiums, starting cricket academies etc..Talent development is not an issue. More than monies they need more matches against full member teams. The political turmoil can happen in any country at any point of time, that cannot be a reason to not support them.

  • Cricinfouser on March 22, 2016, 13:34 GMT

    I'm sure countries Afghanistan & Nepal can be accommodated by the big brothers Pak, India, SL & Ban in their first class tournaments. If they can't be accommodated for the whole tournament at least to play a few 1st class matches.

  • ali_ebadot on March 22, 2016, 13:33 GMT

    raghavendraprasad007 Well, it's very easy to say anything but difficult to prove that. Afghanistan is a good team no doubt; but there's every possibility to be turned around like Kenya due to lack of financial/political drawbacks. Moreover they have, I guess, shortages of backup players with a limited cricketing and other facilities. However, I wish their every success to come in near future.

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