ICC news May 26, 2010

Howard nomination hits a roadblock

Martin Williamson and Brydon Coverdale

World cricket is set for a serious political rift over the nomination of John Howard, the former Australian prime minister, as the president-designate of the ICC. The cricket boards of South Africa and Zimbabwe are leading an initiative to block Howard's nomination, while Australia and New Zealand, who jointly nominated him, stand behind their man. Four votes are needed to block Howard's nomination and it is believed that, barring some dramatic late changes, his candidature will not be a formality.

The BCCI's position is expected to play crucial role in the issue. David Morgan, the president of the ICC, is scheduled on Thursday to meet Sharad Pawar, who takes over the presidency next month, and is expected to discuss the matter.

Cricket South Africa has taken up the matter in the strongest of manners, accusing David Morgan, the ICC president, of ignoring the sentiments of an "overwhelming number of ICC directors" who were opposed to Howard's candidature. Morgan has also been accused of making the matter a personal cause.

The ICC follows a policy of regional rotation for its presidency and this year was the turn of Australia and New Zealand. Howard, a career politician and self-declared cricket tragic, beat off a strong challenge from New Zealand Cricket, which favoured John Anderson, a former chairman of the board and a long-time cricket administrator, to win the nomination for the term, which starts from 2012. He was due to serve as vice-president to Pawar for the next two years.

As it turns out, though, a section of the ICC board has strong reservations about Howard. Zimbabwe Cricket has made no secret of its opposition to a man who was so critical of it when he was prime minister and is certain to vote against him if the matter reaches that point.

Morgan has strongly defended his position in an email exchange with Mtutuzeli Nyoka, the CSA president. He is believed to made it clear that he had no personal agenda and that he had acted according to the ICC constitution. He is expected to vigorously defend Nyoka's charge and is understood to have reminded his fellow directors that their job is to act in the best interests of ICC members, and not pursue personal agendas.

Howard, it will be stressed, was selected by New Zealand and Cricket Australia as part of the ICC's constitutional process, and therefore Morgan has not acted unconstitutionally

For the record, the ICC is playing down the issue. "The board has not yet discussed the matter," its chief executive, Haroon Lorgat, told Cricinfo." What you might be hearing might have happened on the sidelines but it was not discussed at the board meeting. The process is that Australia and New Zealand nominate someone, followed by the board considering the nomination before putting it before the annual conference. It is a three-step process.

"It [the opposition to Howard's nomination] is speculative at this moment. We haven't yet faced such a scenario; it has not been blocked as yet, nor even considered."

Asked what would happen if the nomination was rejected, Lorgat said: "We will probably go back and ask (the same region) for another nomination. But that has never happened and what you are saying is speculative."

Meanwhile, Cricket Australia stood firmly behind its man. "We remain rock solid in our support of the nomination," Peter Young, the CA spokesperson, told Cricinfo. "CA and NZC undertook an exhaustive professional process and have come up with a joint nomination that we are convinced is the best possible nomination we could put forward. We will continue to be welded on in our joint support of that nomination. We have made that clear to the ICC in recent weeks."

Australia's position received unqualified backing from New Zealand cricket. "We certainly haven't heard any notification from ICC that there's a problem with that. We're certainly not contemplating any other scenarios than John Howard being our man," Justin Vaughan, the NZC chief executive, said.

"We believe we went through a very robust and thorough process. We believe ICC should accept that and accept the nomination."

The matter may come down to the neutrals and the ECB offered a non-committal comment on the situation. "It's up to New Zealand Cricket and Cricket Australia to nominate a candidate and we as the ECB will await that nomination at the ICC annual conference," an ECB spokesman said.

The sense of what is at stake was summed up by Ijaz Butt, the PCB chairman. "This is a very sensitive issue right now so I don't want to discuss it," Butt said. "I know John Howard personally and I know how much he loves the sport and the game."

(Andrew Miller, Osman Samiuddin and Nagraj Gollapudi contributed to this article)

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa; Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Powderdubdub on June 1, 2010, 10:13 GMT

    Frankly this time its Autralia-NZ turn to nominate a candidate for the presidency of the ICC, who ever is selected by those countries should be respected. If we go down the route of opposing a candidate whome we dont like and force him out of the contention, it will set a very dangerous precedence for the future, who is perfect in this world? Dont we all have our little prejudices?

  • Jag on June 1, 2010, 9:15 GMT

    I really don't know why some people dying to bring this dejected, old fart to lead this prestigious game of cricket. He never played this game in his life. All he knows about this game is to heckle asian cricketers and to watch the game from the pavilion. I don't know what qualification he has out of 19 million other Australians doesn't have to be desperately nominated for this post. This whole saga is nothing more than ego battle of this little man and the ICC.Good on you Sri Lanka to have spine to stand up against this bully.

  • Andrew on June 1, 2010, 5:24 GMT

    @long_handle - dont mind your opening sentence, but Apartheid??? Come on, he did no more or less than any other politician at the time, he wasn't PM then either. On the 15 degree issue - the ICC had to bring it in otherwise Murali would be branded a chucker and could be no-balled out of the game. I only vaguely recall Truemans action but I do know that Thommo had a near perfect action, there was talk that the Lee & McGrath bent there arms more than Murali did/does, (Ahktar as well). Despite all of that if you can't see that Murali's action at best is unique, and is far more suspect than 95% of International bowlers I think you are mistaking cricket for baseball! As I have said before I think ultimately, Murali has been good for International cricket, without him SL cricket would be fairly dismal at Test level.

  • Ibrahim on May 31, 2010, 15:43 GMT

    criticizing Murali doesn't make him a racist, but he is a HUGELY irritating and judgmental little man who should keep his dirty nose out of a sport he can't play and only supports as a cheerleader. where was his political integrity during the south african apartheid? And to comment on Murali etc is not wrong but in EXTREMELY bad taste. Btw all those who think the ICC "accomodated" Murali's action, gets ur facts straight. I don't like Murali and I personally prefer Warne/Saqlain/Swann but the fact is that that 15 degree thing wasn't an accomodation, it was a measure to see how far an arm can go without chucking. Otherwise Fred Trueman/Jeff Thomson would have been chuckers

  • Andrew on May 31, 2010, 3:07 GMT

    @jagman - The Australian Institute of Sport Murali under the provision that there is a tolerable degree of bending. It is not racist to suggest he chucks, cricketers from all countries have been accused of this. You could argue biase, arguing ignorance that is just padding for your arguement - fact is Murali has/had an extremely unusual action that required scrutiny. The fact that he is now legitimate does not mean that people who questioned his action are racist. @Bonner - mate if you got a $400k mortgage and your worrying about entitlements and minimum wage increases you've bought the wrong house! Also work for the dole DOES NOT affect unemployment figures - it doesn't count, they are still unemployed for statistical purposes. To blame mortgage woes on a gov't is typical of the victim mentality that is everywhere. Also - I distinctly recall interviews where Costello was saying there was going to be a major correction in the Housing Market years b4 the GFC finally occurred.

  • Jag on May 30, 2010, 11:36 GMT

    AdrKoe, you are as much as ignorant as John Howard does. What qualification you or Howard have to judge some one's bowling action. If you are not aware, it is the Australian Sports Academy who tested and cleared Murali about his bowling action. Those ignorant, bised, racist people have done enough damage to the game of cricket already. No one wants racist, facist, extreme, rejected old fart to the top job of the prestigious game of cricket. PLEASE bow out with respect Howard. Don't be a pain in the back to millions of cricket fans

  • Adrian on May 30, 2010, 3:56 GMT

    I am a proud Australian and I supported John Howard when he was our PM. Despite that I do not think he would make a good leader for world criclet. As demonstrated by many of the previous posts he is the type of leader that people either love or hate. Too many people would take an opposing position as a matter of principal. Having said that I'm not sure who could do the job because there are so many divergent opinions and self interest groups it will be a really tough gig. But a couple of thoughts I think are relevant. 1: Just because someone doesn't agree with you doesn't make them a racist - I am so sick of people playing the race card just because they don't agree with another's opinion. 2: Murali was a chucker - they had to change the laws of cricket to make his doosra legal. 3: I sincerely hope that whoever does take the job can run the game for the benefit of all cricket lovers and not for one team and/or region. It's a tough ask but the game deserves the very best.

  • Ryo on May 30, 2010, 3:43 GMT

    Hilarious that the corrupt BCCI would support John Howards tenure. Looks like greedy corporate fascists tend to stick together.

  • Dummy4 on May 30, 2010, 0:13 GMT

    Deb-61; It is not an issue of religion but of judgment and fairness. Whether, it is Cricket or governing a country or supporting immoral actions it is the character, judgment and fairness comes into play. I do not care about anybody's religion, including that of Mr. Howard. I do care how he perceives people in making decisions when it effects their lives, careers, livelihood and existence. The ease with which Mr. Howard condoned torture in Guantanamo Bay or supported war against Iraqi people says a lot to me about his personality. The way he would down to Indonesians and Sri-Lankans as PM says a lot about his proclivity. In my books he is a Racist with a condescending and pejorative attitude towards non-Whites. That attitude would be bad when he is governing Cricket as ICC President. We will discuss India's destructive role in another post.

  • mat on May 29, 2010, 10:15 GMT

    You might have done ok under Howard, Rooboy, but I wonder how many are sitting in their 4 bedroom hotbox in Western Sydney wondering if interest rates will rise in the next 30 years on their $400,000 mortgage because they traded away their workplace benefits for a payrise that got gobbled up by the next minimum wage increase. Howard never once issued an across the board wage rise for low income earners. The Work-for-the-Dole program was a great way to reduce the unemployment figures while providing an opportunity to give tax breaks to the top income earners because they work so much harder than everyone else (?). Howard was a climate change denier who's conservation policy was to give tens of millions to a logging company to compensate for the preservation of Tassie forests that were already set aside for conservation (?)!! The Children Overboard scandal and the invasion of Iraq speak for themselves. Dark days under Howard and if you're not hurting, Rooboy, then you should be.

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