ICC Support : Bangladesh vs. Others
Critics of Bangladesh often argue that if Ireland or Afghanistan had been given the same support that Bangladesh gets, they would be better sides. Of course we will never know for sure, until and if, those countries get a crack at 14 years of Test cricket. Maybe 20 years from now we will, if Ireland and Afghanistan get Test status. However, looking at ICC's current level of support, it is evident that ICC is giving at least as much support to the top Associates, if not more than was given to Bangladesh.
Fixtures against Top Sides
From 1986 till getting Test status in 2000, Bangladesh played 36 ODIs against Test nations. However, only 2 were part of a bilateral series against WI in 1999. The rest were played as World Cups, Asia Cups, or triangular series usually involving fellow Associates, Kenya. Bangladesh were supported by the ACC by being invited to every Asia Cup tournament beginning in 1986.
Afghanistan Cricket Team
Ireland, since qualifying for their maiden World Cup in 2005, have played 25 ODIs vs Test nations, many of which have been bilateral series or one-offs vs teams touring England.
Afghanistan, meanwhile managed to secure 2 one-off ODIs vs PAK and AUS even before qualifying for their first world cup. Additionally, AFG were also invited to the 2014 Asia Cup, and it is not totally certain that they would have qualified had there been a qualifier. Afghanistan have already played a total of 6 bilateral ODIs vs Test nations before their first WC match.
Bangladesh were Associates in a different era. There was no World Cricket League or Intercontinental Cup in those days. Bangladesh had to rely on irregular tours against visiting A teams or club sides for international fixtures outside the World Cup Qualifying Tournament. Had Bangladesh played in the WCL, it’s very likely our development would have been a little bit quicker than it was. A large part of the reason why Afghanistan have risen so rapidly is due their ability to play regularly against similarly ranked sides in the competitive atmosphere of official ODI cricket.
Ireland Cricket Team
The idea that Bangladesh were undeservingly pampered by the doting ICC is largely a myth. It’s almost completely false. The premise is actually rooted on idea that Bangladeshis are inherently less inclined for the rigors of cricket. It is almost always perpetuated by Indian and Pakistani critics who are loathe to see Bangladesh at the top level.
However, Bangladesh were lucky. Far luckier than Ireland or Afghanistan. They were lucky to have had the fanatical popular support of crores of people, in a largely secure country. They were also lucky to be in a time (turn of the millennium) and place (Asia) where power politics within the game meant being elevated to Test status benefitted the powers to be.
Ireland and Afghanistan are both better than Bangladesh when they got Test status, or even several years afterwards, and thus deserve Test status themselves. However, it is most probably not correct to say that they have lacked support or that if they had the same support Bangladesh had, they'd be significantly better Test sides.