Cricket Australia (CA) is on the brink of confirming that their postponed one-off Test against Afghanistan will go ahead later this year, while a match against the world’s newest Test member Ireland hasn’t been ruled out either.
The sole Test, the first between the two teams, between Australia and Afghanistan was a victim of Covid of 2020, but Cricket Australia is preparing to announce the match will go ahead in November in Hobart.
Cricket Australia Was Criticized For Australia Pulling Out Of South Africa Tour
The one-off Test will also give Tim Paine’s men some much-needed red-ball cricket before the Ashes starts, with Cricket Australia’s calendar relatively free after regrettably pulling out of the South African tour. Afghanistan announced the Test would go ahead in November on their own official website late last year.
Australia’s standing on the world stage would be benefitted after they were criticized for pulling out of South Africa despite the abandonment due to Covid19 fears essentially killing their hopes of playing in the Test Championship final at Lord’s.
Meanwhile, The Sunday Age reported moves were “afoot” for Ireland who became a Test-playing member in 2017 to play Australia in the 2022-23 summer. It’s understood that any such decision on playing Ireland is a long way from being confirmed, with one Cricket Australia spokesperson describing any such move as being in an “embryonic” stage if at all.
Australia hasn’t played Ireland in any format since 2016. Ireland is yet to win one of their three Tests since being promoted but almost pulled off an upset at Lord’s in 2019. Joe Root’s side was bowled out for 85 in their first-innings and trailed by more than 100 runs halfway through the match. But England stormed back to bowl the Irish out for 38 in the second innings to secure a 143-run victory.
Afghanistan Had Defeated Zimbabwe In The 2nd Test After Hashmatullah Shahidi, Asghar Afghan, And Rashid Khan’s Heroics
Earlier this month Afghanistan defeated Zimbabwe by six wickets in the 2nd Test at the UAE off the back of an unbeaten double century to Hashmatullah Shahidi and 164 to captain Asghar Afghan. Big Bash star Rashid Khan took 11 wickets in the match, including an incredible 7-137 off 62.5 overs in the second innings. Speaking to ESPN earlier this month, Rashid Khan said playing Australia in its own backyard would be “historic”.
“The Test in Perth was huge for us, and everyone back home was waiting for it,” Rashid, who was awarded ICC Men’s T20I player of the decade, told ESPN earlier this month.
“It could have been a historic Test. It is like a dream that comes true for any player to be a part of it. I would have considered myself so lucky to play in Australia against Australia, but this pandemic has really affected us. Hopefully, things are better, and this year is a huge year for us as a team, as a nation, and as players, and we will try our best to deliver.”
The Afghanistan announcement will go a long way in improving their reputation of ignoring the smaller Test nations in the world. Afghanistan played its first test match in 2018, becoming the 12th test nation. Since then, they have played 5 test matches, compiling a record of 2 wins and 3 defeats.
Cricket Australia was criticized widely for pulling out of the tour of South Africa, with many arguing that it was another sign that the governing body was only interested in playing their fellow ‘big three’ members England and India. Cricket Australia was encouraged to simply “trust” that the tour would run smoothly despite having no assurances of logistics in the Covid-stricken nation.
While Sri Lanka’s two-Test tour of South Africa was successfully completed despite Covid-19 fears in the rainbow nation it’s understood Sri Lanka Cricket breathed a sigh of relief and considered themselves fortunate not to contract the virus. Australia’s tough border regulations and the difficulties in securing a charter plane, particularly if any member contracts the virus, meant Cricket Australia prioritized the welfare of the players and coaching staff first.
By pulling out of the tour too, Australia denied themselves the chance to qualify for the Test Championship final, a match Tim Paine and coach Justin Langer had long spoken about as a driving goal for the side. The Test Championship will be played between New Zealand and India from June 18 at Lord’s.