Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here
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The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) has been allocated US$422,000 (22,400,000 AFN approx.) from the ICC's targeted assistance and performance programme. The world governing body of cricket approved the grant at its IDI (ICC Development International) board meeting, which concluded Wednesday in Dubai.
ACB chief executive officer, Noor Mohammad Murad, said the board had requested a total of $1 million in assistance. "The ICC approved $422,000 for now. They will send a delegation to visit the ACB in two or three weeks, and will decide [from there] whether or not to approve the rest of the money," Murad told AFP.
The money, to be given over three years, is aimed at developing more competitive teams among ICC Full, Associate and Affiliate members. Previously, countries such as the Netherlands, Scotland, West Indies, Zimbabwe and Ireland have received assistance through a similar programme. According to an ICC statement, the funding for the ACB is for the development of the National Cricket Academy in Kabul.
Afghanistan became an Affiliate member of the ICC in 2001. In 2009 it attained one-day status till 2015. Over the last two years, the ACB has undergone organisational restructuring in a bid to provide better leadership and find qualified staff to run cricket administration in the war-torn country. They are currently developing their domestic cricket infrastructure, and have signed a two-year deal with the Pakistan board for the development of Afghanistan cricket ahead of the 2015 World Cup.
Last year, the Asian Cricket Council decided to nominate Afghanistan for Associate membership with the ICC, with the request being looked into at the ICC's annual conference in June. At present the ICC provides about $700,000 a year in funding. Based on current distributions, that will rise to $850,000 once Associate status is assured.