SYDNEY, July 2 Australia will play Afghanistan
for the first time next month in what is likely to be a one-day
international in the United Arab Emirates, Cricket Australia
(CA) said on Monday.
Full details of the match, including the format, have yet to
be finalised, CA said in a news release, but the Australians
view the fixture as recognition of Afghanistan's "increasing
importance in world cricket".
"Everyone in world cricket have been really impressed with
how cricket has flourished in Afghanistan, despite its pressing
national problems," said CA chief James Sutherland.
"As an ICC member, CA strongly supports world cricket's
ambition for cricket to continue to develop as a global sport
and that, combined with the strong relationships between our two
countries, encouraged us to look at how we might recognise and
encourage Afghanistan by playing them on the field."
Afghanistan received ODI status during their failed attempt
to qualify for last year's World Cup and played their first
match in the 50-over format against a test-playing nation when
they took on Pakistan in February, losing by seven wickets in
Australia, ranked number one in the ICC rankings for one-day
internationals, will use the match as a warm-up for a
three-match ODI series against Pakistan, which will also be
played in the UAE in late August and early September.
Pakistan have played their home series at neutral venues
since an attack by gunmen in Lahore in March 2009 killed seven
people and injured five players.
The Afghans have also been restricted to playing matches in
neutral venues because of security problems but will take part
in their first major international tournament at the Twenty20
World Cup in Sri Lanka in September.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)