Afghanistan has celebrated its entry into test cricket after the International Cricket Council voted to make it, along with Ireland, full members of the organisation.

It means Afghanistan now joins an elite 12 nations who play test matches.

“I can’t express right now how excited I am,” said Shir Agha Hamkar, Afghanistan cricket’s team manager.

“It was a big dream of the cricket board, our team and every Afghan. Afghanistan has made tremendous progress, in the last few years. We have been playing very good cricket, beating full members like Zimbabwe,” he said at a celebration where a special cake was shared to mark the occasion.

“Thanks to all the players as well. They have shown their talent to the world and shown that yes, we deserve to be a full member nation,” he said.

It’s likely to play its first test match in 2018 but it will play home games in the Indian city of Noida because of security concerns.

Cricket is wildly popular with Afghans, particularly after Twenty20 cricket brought in big-hitting and constant match action.