Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom has praised his now-fellow Test member administrators for their long-term vision in approving governance changes that resulted in Ireland and Afghanistan becoming the 11th and 12th Full Members of the ICC on Thursday. Deutrom and Afghanistan Cricket Board chief executive Shafiq Stanikzai said on a conference call following the decision that it was a day of celebration and proof there is a definite pathway for Associates to move forward.
"I think it sets a terrific example," Deutrom said. "What happened today for Full Membership for Ireland and Afghanistan is part of a much broader series of governance changes that the game has had the courage to embrace today.
"If you are able to put together and show the sport in your country embraces a robust status, strong governance, strong administration, quality performance over a period of years, not just your men but your women, not just your seniors but your juniors, not just on the pitch but off the pitch, the quality of your financial rigour and can show you are sustainable as a business with your commercial revenue generation… the game has quite rightly said if you're going to take a step up to the highest levels of the sport, you need to be able to be strong in all of those areas so you're not going to fall over in any one.
"It's a real measure of faith today. There are 21 criteria. They are very clearly laid out by the ICC now so that option should now be available to [Associate] members to embrace that future if they have the ability."
In terms of scheduling their respective maiden Test matches, Deutrom said he had been more focused on making a case to voters to gain a favorable vote for Test status, making negotiations "inappropriate" until a successful vote had been taken while Stanikzai said his board was still basking in the euphoria of receiving their newfound elevated status.
"The next 24 hours is kind of a celebratory time for Afghanistan and the entire nation," Stanikzai said. "Something huge has happened in our cricketing history.
"Indeed there will be talk with some of the Full Members within our region and I'm quite hopeful that we will be playing a Test nation in what will be another remarkable day for Afghanistan."
Both countries had been vying for the last two years to win the Intercontinental Cup, with the winner due to play the lowest ranked Full Member in a four-match Test Challenge that had been scheduled for 2018. A date at Lord's for 2019 had been promised by the ECB's Giles Clarke to the winner, though ICC chief executive David Richardson said the planned Test Challenge playoff has now been scrapped following the pair's elevation to Test status.
However, Deutrom said he would not hesitate to bring up the open date at Lord's in discussions with Tom Harrison, his counterpart at the ECB. Deutrom also said the gate-attendance figures Ireland helped generate from May's ODI at Lord's made a compelling case to ECB administrators to lock in a future Test date with Ireland.
"In terms of the schedule itself, that's still subject to discussion in terms of the Full Members talking about the international cricket structure but that isn't likely to be decided until October," Deutrom said. "Even though it's not 100%, when I sit down with Tom Harrison I will be reminding him of Giles [Clarke] referring to the 'glittering prize' of Ireland playing against England at Lord's.
"As we saw from Ireland's inaugural match at Lord's on May 7, it was fantastic with Ireland able to put 25,000 in the seats during a month of the year when it's probably not the easiest sell when it's the end of the Premiership season and of course European rugby and European [Champions League] football.
"For that to be the case we need to have discussions to see how it can pan out. We do have a busy season ahead for both of us next year. We do have our own bilateral cricket and also probably what's going to be a very lengthy World Cup Qualifier so at this stage we don't know."
Richardson urged administrators and fans to be patient in expecting immediate success from both countries, saying that unless their schedule their maiden Test against each other, it could be years before either scores their first win and noted the early struggles experienced by Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and most recently Bangladesh after gaining Test status. But Richardson said both should expect a "significant increase" from their current ICC funding levels to allow structures to keep them competitive.
Under the current funding package, both had been receiving equated to roughly $20 million over eight years but Richardson said he expected that may double at a minimum now that they have access to Full Member levels of revenue shares.