Afghanistan and Ireland were voted full members unanimously at the ICC council Image: Getty
The rise of Afghanistan and Ireland in the ranks of international cricket gathered pace on Thursday when they were voted in as full ICC members, meaning they can play Test matches against the world's elite countries.
By becoming the first countries to receive Test status since Bangladesh in 2000, they took the number of Test-playing nations to 12.
The first Test match for Afghanistan and Ireland could be against each other, as early as next year, although no firm plans were in place.
The growth of cricket in Afghanistan has been particularly astonishing, given that most members of the current team learned to play while growing up in refugee camps in bordering Pakistan. The sport is rapidly gaining a solid fan base in the country, with the national team gaining ODI status only in 2011, qualifying for its first Cricket World Cup in 2015, and recently drawing an ODI series with West Indies.
"We dared to dream that this would happen and today it has become a reality, said Shafiq Stanikzai, chief executive of the Afghanistan Cricket Board.
Ireland have enjoyed more success in limited-overs format, appearing in the last three World Cups and claiming shock victories over Pakistan and England at the time.
Ireland and Afghanistan have been playing as associate members since 1993 and 2013, respectively.
"It is a reflection not just of our past achievements but of our potential to grow our great game. Test cricket is the pinnacle," said Warren Deutrom, chief executive of Cricket Ireland.
Ireland could play England in a Test match in 2019.
The ICC announced the decision following a unanimous vote at a full council meeting in London.
(With inputs from AP)