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Hobart to Host Historic One-off Test Against Afghanistan

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Afghanistan is set to play their first-ever Test against Australia in Hobart. In what will be a warm-up of sorts for the iconic Ashes, Cricket Australia is planning to release the schedule for the upcoming summer next week. It is expected to be a jam-packed calendar with dates marked for fixtures starting from October this […]

Afghanistan is set to play their first-ever Test against Australia in Hobart.

In what will be a warm-up of sorts for the iconic Ashes, Cricket Australia is planning to release the schedule for the upcoming summer next week. It is expected to be a jam-packed calendar with dates marked for fixtures starting from October this year to mid-February 2022.

As per ICC’s Future Tour Programme (FTP), Australia and Afghanistan were supposed to play the one-off Test in Perth November last year, after the T20 World Cup was shifted to 2021. The COVID-19 situation, however, led to the rescheduling of the fixture.

Australia is not scheduled to play Test cricket again until the Afghanistan Test, expected to start in late November a fortnight after the T20 World Cup. The buffer that will give Australia’s multi-format players time to clear quarantine and play a red-ball match before the much-anticipated showdown with England.

The compensation for Perth is that it has been all-but confirmed the West Australian capital will host the fifth Test of the Ashes, a rare honour as series-deciders have been traditionally played in Sydney.

“Hopefully we come to the last Test at Perth at 2-2 and it all rides on a very bouncy Optus Stadium wicket,” Western Australia Cricket Association chief executive Christina Matthews told radio station SEN WA.

The Hobart game might be Tasmanian Tim Paine’s first Test at his home ground, as in recent years Hobart has only hosted one-day internationals. The last Test match to be played at Bellerive was Australia against South Africa in 2016. That game was just the 13th Test at the venue, spread over a period of now 32 years since Hobart’s first test in 1989.

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Low crowd figures were talked about as one of the reasons for moving Test cricket away from Tasmania. Some observers feel that unless bumper crowds turn out to see Afghanistan, it could be the end of top-level cricket on the island.

Afghanistan on the rise

The Afghanistan Cricket Federation was established in 1995. It was granted affiliate membership by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 2001.

Afghanistan’s rise through the ranks saw it narrowly miss qualifying for the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup, however that led to one-day-international status. It first played against Australia in that format in 2012.

The following years saw Afghanistan take part in the 2014 ICC World Twenty20 and securing qualification to the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup in New Zealand and Australia where they clinched a historic win against Scotland to mark its first win in the Cricket World Cup.

Afghanistan was also awarded Test status by ICC in 2017, opening a new chapter for the country to play test cricket against Full Member nations in the years to come.

The Australian Cricket Board has noticeably shy about playing lower-ranked Test countries in recent years, probably stemming a one-sided series against Bangladesh in 2006 when fast bowler Jason Gillespie notched an improbable 201 not out with the bat.

Rashid Khan. He is the youngest player to have captained his country in a Test cricket match.

Australia has also never faced off against the other newest Test-ranked country, Ireland. Neither Ireland nor Afghanistan have played enough tests recently to qualify for a ranking, but presumably both would be below the 10th-ranked Zimbabwe. Australia is ranked fourth, behind India, New Zealand and England.

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A key Afghanistan player is leg-spinner Rashid Khan, one of the most successful bowlers in recent seasons of the T20 Big Bash League in Australia. Still just 22, he played in Afghanistan’s first ever Test in 2018.

Khan has played 5 tests for a haul of 34 wickets at the excellent average of 22.35.

Source: Tasmanian Times https://www.tasmaniantimes.com/2021/05/hobart-to-host-historic-one-off-test-against-afghanistan/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=hobart-to-host-historic-one-off-test-against-afghanistan

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