Ireland and Afghanistan took a giant leap in the game as they were confirmed as Full Members of the International Cricket Council on Thursday (June 22). The historic decision was taken after a unanimous vote at the ICC Full Council meeting in London.  The decision means both the countries have now become the 11th and 12th members of the elite group that is permitted to play the longest format of the game. Ireland and Afghanistan are the first admissions in the game’s full members since Bangladesh gained Test status in 2000.

Ireland, who have been playing as affiliate members since 1993, were making a strong case for the Test status for quite some time now. They gained ODI status in 2005 after finishing runners-up in the ICC Trophy tournament at home and qualified for the 2007 World Cup. They made an immediate impact in the World Cup, defeating Pakistan to mark their arrival. They went on to play the next two World Cups in which they defeated England and West Indies to strengthen their case.

Afghanistan’s rise, meanwhile, has been even more impressive, They gained the ODI status in 2011 and never looked back since then. They qualified for the 2015 World Cup and won their first game in the tournament by beating Scotland. In 2016, they made it to the World T20 and registered a memorable win over eventual champion West Indies. Recently, the 10th-ranked ODI team drew their maiden ODI series in West Indies.

Congratulating Ireland and Afghanistan on the watershed moment in their cricketing histories, ICC chief executive Dave Richardson said: “I’d like to congratulate Afghanistan and Ireland on their Full Membership status which is the result of their dedication to improving performance both off and on the field resulting in the significant development and growth of cricket in their respective countries. Both have clearly demonstrated they meet the new criteria and as such have made the progression to Full Membership.”