LAHORE: The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) has revised its financial distribution model and increased the share for cash-strapped Afghanistan from Asia Cup earnings. Afghanistan became a Full Member of the ICC in 2017, but had been earning a lower share from the last two Asia Cups held in 2018 and 2022, with other Full Members in Asia divvying up the earnings equally. But with a new distribution model now in place, all Asian Test-playing nations including Afghanistan will be getting equal amounts from the ACC — that will effectively raise Afghanistan’s share from 6% to 15%. The other Full Members of the ACC — Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh — will be getting a lesser share than before to accommodate the rise in Afghanistan’s revenue. Thus, the five Full Members will be getting 15% each, with the remaining amount to be distributed among Associates and Affiliates. “The increase in our ACC funding will greatly benefit the technical as well as the administrative aspects of Afghanistan Cricket,” Mirwais Ashraf, the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) chairman said. “We are grateful for the support of the ACC and its member countries, and look forward to utilising these resources for taking Afghan cricket forward. This is a major move in our favour, and we are confident that this increased funding will contribute significantly to the continued growth and success of this game in our country.” The increase, agreed upon at the recent ACC meeting in Bahrain, could not have come at a better time for the ACB (Afghanistan Cricket Board). Last October, after the Taliban took power in Afghanistan, the ACB had plunged into a financial crisis as cash flow from their ICC revenue share hit a snag because of international sanctions. As a result, the ACB hasn’t been able pay full salaries to its staff for two months, and has also had to cancel a domestic regional one-day tournament. However, it found local sponsors and government funding, and managed to get back on its feet with cash starting to flow in December. The ICC also pays Afghanistan’s operational costs (from their share of ICC funds) incurred outside Afghanistan by mainly paying players, and also vendors engaged in hosting their games in the UAE. The ACB has also come under increased scrutiny and pressure for having made no progress with women’s cricket – a functioning women’s cricket team is a requirement for Full Member status with the ICC. Discussions on that are expected at the next ICC board meetings in March. Afghanistan seek more bilateral cricket: What will also help is more bilateral cricket, and the PCB has reaffirmed its commitment to play a three-match T20I series against Afghanistan in March. That series came about after Australia’s pullout of three scheduled ODIs to be played against Afghanistan in the UAE in the same window. In an ACC meeting in Bahrain last week, the Afghanistan delegation led by Ashraf and ACB’s CEO Naseeb Khan discussed the possibility of playing more bilateral cricket. Pakistan was the first country to accept playing a series, although it is believed the PCB had to persuade its government to give the go-ahead, given the complex geo-political ties between the two countries at the moment. The other lingering concern was over the crowd hostility during matches between the two nations. The last few games between the two sides – including those at the 2019 World Cup, the 2021 T20 World Cup, and the Asia Cup last year — has seen unprecedented disturbances break out among the spectators. The idea of playing Afghanistan was raised last month, with the PCB chairman Najam Sethi asserting that “politics and cricket shouldn’t be mixed up” after Australia’s withdrawal from playing Afghanistan because of the Taliban’s “further restrictions on women’s and girls’ education” in the country. Thus, the PCB and ACB instead found a window to play in, with both countries to equally share broadcast revenue.