Cricket Australia keep backing John Howard for ICC
Cricket Australia is standing by John Howard and seriously considering whether to repeat its push to have him installed as ICC vice-president despite his swift rejection in Singapore. The appointment of Howard was stopped at an ICC board meeting on Wednesday by a group of Asian and African members in a result that left Australian and New Zealand officials "gutted".
Jack Clarke, Cricket Australia's chairman, will consult with his board this week, but Cricinfo has learned Howard remains the organisation's nomination for the position despite the refusal of seven ICC board members to support the application. It sets up the prospect of Howard's name being returned as the joint Australia-New Zealand candidate by the August 31 deadline, although this depends on New Zealand Cricket wanting to continue the fight.
Australia and New Zealand have been asked to put forward another candidate and Haroon Lorgat, the chief executive of the ICC, said the organisation did not have to give justification for rejecting Howard. Lorgat told reporters in Singapore on Thursday that the ICC "does not have to give those reasons".
"There weren't sufficient number of directors in support of the nomination," Lorgat said. "[It] did not go to a vote and the outcome was to request Cricket Australia and New Zealand Cricket to reconsider their nomination and to return to the ICC by the 31st of August."
Howard was standing firm despite the embarrassing turn of events. "I haven't withdrawn, I'm still the nomination and I won't be withdrawing," he told Sky News.
Clarke and Wally Edwards, his deputy, will host a meeting with Cricket Australia's board members, who were said to be "very angry" with the Singapore result, over the next couple of days to determine whether to keep pushing for Howard. Once they have decided the way forward they will discuss the position with New Zealand Cricket, which originally wanted its former chairman Sir John Anderson in the role.
Both Clarke and Alan Isaac, the New Zealand chairman, were angry and frustrated with the outcome of the ICC board meeting in which the Howard issue didn't get to a vote. Under the ICC's regulations, it was Australasia's turn to choose the vice-president, who would then assume the top job in 2012.
However, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Africa and West Indies signalled their intention on Tuesday night to block the move. Zimbabwe, privately the most critical of the appointment, did not join the list but were a crucial player in the decision.
India also had a role in providing support to deny Howard. "If India said yes, it would have got through," a source close to the negotiations told Cricinfo.
Cricket Australia asked Howard to take up the post and he said it was on the understanding that if he fitted the ICC guidelines and didn't have a criminal record he would be approved. Both the Australian and New Zealand boards argued he came through the most rigorous selection process and deserved the role.
Clarke was disappointed at the treatment of such a well-qualified applicant and the hurt was compounded by no reasons being given for the rejection. Howard said he had spoken to a board chairman from one of the opposing countries, who told him he could not say why the appointment had been blocked. "It's a very unusual situation," Howard said.
Criticisms of Howard vary from his decisions regarding Zimbabwe during his time as Australia's prime minister to him not being involved previously with Cricket Australia in an official capacity. "Frankly, we did not want an outsider to meddle with the ICC," an Indian board official told AFP. "There was nothing personal against Howard. But we do accept the argument that only a man with previous experience in cricket administration should head the ICC."
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo