Wrong to look at India negatively, says Howard
The former Australian prime minister John Howard, poised to take over as ICC president from 2012, has said India's massive standing in the current game should not be feared but rather embraced. On the day Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), one fourth of the powerful Asian bloc, said it would not oppose his nomination, Howard sought to downplay concerns over India's powerful status.
"India is the second most populous country in the world, it's cricket-mad, they are plusses," Howard told ABC Radio. "I think it's entirely wrong to look at the Indian involvement in cricket in a negative light. I think of those millions of people in India and the subcontinent ... who play cricket. They play it with a passion and love it."
Over the last decade the Indian board's power grew exponentially with its bank balance and as the rest of cricket fell in line there have been many to state their wariness. A former ICC president, Malcolm Gray, once warned that Asia's ambition to hold one in three World Cups was not in the best interests of the game, while certain members of the ECB structure in the 2000s expressed concern. Howard's comments came a day after Muttiah Muralitharan, the word's leading Test wicket-taker, said he would have a difficult time convincing the Asian bloc of his capabilities.
However, Nishantha Ranatunga, the SLC secretary, told Cricinfo that any country had the right to nominate their choice for the post and it was not ethical for Sri Lanka to harp on incidents that had happened in the past. "We know that Howard as prime minister unruffled a few feathers calling Muttiah Muralitharan a chucker, but that is now a thing of the past," he said. "We don't want to harp on it any more. We have to look to the future and try to work cordially with whoever is elected to the ICC post. We have no control over people elected to that position."
Howard, who led Australia from 1996 to 2007, will have the position rubber stamped in June and will succeed India's Sharad Pawar in two years. Responding to criticism that he lacked the required skills to hold the post of ICC president, Howard pointed to a 30-year political career. ''I think the fact I haven't been involved in cricket administration is explained by the fact I had a day job which made that rather difficult," he said.
Howard's nomination will be approved at the ICC's executive board meeting in April and the position will be finalised at the annual conference in the middle of the year.