London: Afghanistan have been granted the Associate membership of the ICC, making it the eighth Asian nation and the 38th overall to get the status.
"Afghanistan is the only country that receives the Associate membership in a short period of time in reward to the efforts Afghanistan made for the promotion of cricket," Dr Noor Muhammad, CEO of the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), said on the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) website.
Looking at the immense progress shown by Afghanistan, the ACC had last year sent the nomination request and the decision to grant Afghanistan the status was taken by the ICC at its ongoing annual conference, which concludes in London on Saturday.
Afghanistan now join Hong Kong (1969), Kuwait (2005), Malaysia (1967), Nepal (1996), Singapore (1974), Thailand (2005) and UAE (1990) as ICC Associates from the Asian region.
"It is a tremendous achievement by Afghanistan, the current administrators have worked very hard to advance Afghanistan's interests and much credit goes to Dr Noor and his team at the Afghanistan Cricket Board," Bandula Warnapura, ACC development manager, said.
The new Associate membership will help Afghanistan get more funds from the ICC and also give much-needed exposure to the team. The ICC is now likely to pay Afghanistan USD 850,000 based on the Associate status, instead of USD 700,000 as the annual fund.
From a country torn by war to a rising cricket playing nation, it has been a fascinating journey for Afghanistan, who became an Affiliate member of the ICC in 2001 when they travelled to Pakistan for their first tour.