Stanikzai: ICC must better support associate nations

The Afghanistan captain has called on the ICC to provide better support to the cricket played by Associate nations. The 2019 World Cup will be played between ten teams only.

Afghanistan cricket captain Asghar Stanikzai: "We are eager to play in each and every World Cup and we have requested full members to play series with us."

Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai has called on the ICC to act on the suggestions of cricket legends like Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar and provide better support for Associate nations. Former West Indies captain Lara said this week Afghanistan had been a "refreshing" presence at the World Twenty20, an opinion backed up by Tendulkar.

The World Cup will be cut from 14 teams to a 10-team competition in 2019, and could feature no associate members if they do not qualify automatically and are unsuccessful in a qualification tournament that would feature two full ICC members.

Ireland has beaten full members at each of the last three World Cups, while Afghanistan has caught the eye at the World T20, where Mohammad Shahzad's sensational 44 runs from 19 balls against South Africa had many onlookers hoping for a huge upset. And, speaking ahead of his side's penultimate Group 1 game against England, Stanikzai was delighted to have the backing of some of the game's biggest names.

"It is a source of great pride for us to hear such things from the cricket legends. We definitely need the support of the ICC for the upcoming World Cup," he said.

"These comments need to be looked at by the ICC. We are eager to play in each and every World Cup and we have requested full members to play series with us. We have good domestic cricket, good infrastructure, a stadium being built and an academy. We want to play more series."

England counterpart Eoin Morgan - who has formerly represented Ireland in his career - was also keen to champion the cause and gingerly talked up his side taking on the likes of Afghanistan outside of the major tournaments. "I think it is very important for the sport to grow," said Morgan. "Associate nations are key in evolving our sport and giving them as much opportunities as we can.

"Certainly, as an England captain sitting here and captaining guys who play in all three formats of the game, I know the gruelling schedules they go through and the need for time off. But I can see a time when we do play tri-series against different sides, not necessarily with our strongest side, but with as good a side as we can at the time and giving some guys a bit of a break. I see that coming down the line."

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