ICC hails Australia`s decision to play Afghanistan

Dublin: International Cricket Council (ICC) president Alan Isaac has welcomed Australia`s decision to play its first-ever game against Afghanistan in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) next month.

"This fixture supports ICC`s initiative to provide more opportunities for our top ranking Associate/Affiliate Member (AM) teams to play against better opposition. It aligns perfectly with the ICC Strategic Plan to build a bigger, better global game by developing more competitive teams at the highest level," said Issac, who was here to watch Afghanistan play Ireland.

Australia will play the emerging Afghanistan cricket team in the Middle East next month in the latest step that recognises Afghanistan`s increasing importance in world cricket.

The game has been organised as a warm-up for the Australia-Pakistan series, which immediately precedes the ICC World Twenty20 tournament in Sri Lanka, in which Australia, Pakistan and Afghanistan are all competing in September-October.

Issac said the cricket world has already seen Pakistan play Afghanistan in Sharjah this year in a high quality match and commended Australia for creating this opportunity.

"It has always been willing to contribute to development by playing against AM (affiliate members) nations as it recently showed when it played against Ireland."

"Furthermore, a Combined AM XI played a first-class fixture against England in Dubai, and Bangladesh will soon play against Scotland, Ireland and Netherlands during the Northern Hemisphere summer, while England will continue the rotation of playing Scotland and Ireland in alternate years. I am optimistic that the implementation of the Future AM Tour Schedule (FATS) will lead to even more competitive fixtures between the Full Members and our AM nations," he said.