The tri-series in South Africa was initially slated to be played between India A, Australia A and the hosts. However, the Australian players boycotted the series due to the ongoing pay dispute.
“By making this call, the Australia A players have sacrificed their own ambitions for the collective — an incredibly selfless act that shows their strength and overall commitment to the group,” the Australian Cricketers Association had said after the players’ decision.
Cricket South Africa chief executive Haroon Lorgat had said the board were already planning to cover for the absence of an Australia A team.
“There is nothing at all that we can do about it. We’ll have to deal with whatever happens,” Lorgat had said even before the Australian players had revealed their decision of giving the series a miss.
Afghanistan, who were recently granted Full Member status, are going to gain from Australia A’s absence as they have replaced the latter for the tri-series later this month. Lorgat confirmed Afghanistan’s participation on Monday (July 17).
“We are delighted that Afghanistan have accepted our invitation and look forward to welcoming them to our country for the very first time,” said Lorgat. “Afghanistan were deservedly granted Full Member status at the ICC annual conference last month after showing impressive growth in recent years.
“They are a passionate cricket nation and I expect the Afghanistan A team to compete strongly against our A team and India A in the upcoming tri-series,” added Lorgat.
Afghanistan Chief Executive, Shafiqullah Stanikzai said the board is delighted to accept the invitation and hoped that the maiden visit to South Africa would be a good experience for the team.
“We are very pleased to accept Cricket South Africa’s invitation to participate in the upcoming triangular series,” said Stanikzai. “This will be our first-ever visit to South Africa and I am certain that this will give Afghanistan ‘A’ team very good exposure to competitive cricket.”
The tri-series, meanwhile, will start on July 26. India were set to take on Australia in the opening game but will now play against Afghanistan.