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Cricket Australia keep backing John Howard for ICC

Peter English

July 1, 2010

Comments: 68 | Text size: A | A

Michael Ball, chairman of the Bradman Foundation, (left) and former Australian prime minister, John Howard, pose with two of the Bradman Cricket Bats, London, July 13, 2009
Straight bat: John Howard, right, in defensive mode © AFP
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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 "I haven't withdrawn, I'm still the nomination and I won't be withdrawing," he told Sky News.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

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Posted by UAETigers on (July 1, 2010, 16:55 GMT)

I am unable to understand why CA and NewZealand boards are persisting with one nominee and candidate. If a person don't have the relative field experience then how can you make him BOSS of the biggest organization of that field.

Howard can be a good administrator but more then once he has shown that he has biased mind and he has backed Aussie cricket more then on merit basis. Why these two boards are getting furious and angry if their nominee is not considered for the highest post. This is democratic way of tackling issues or some one trying to bring dictatorship with in the game. Aussie and England has ruled ICC for long and no one had complaint so they should respect others opinion too.

Posted by Antir on (July 1, 2010, 13:46 GMT)

It is time that all the cricketing nations went their own way. Let the BCCI do whatever they like it. Australia/New Zealand can survive on their own. Let the other nations fight among themselves. Organising tours does not depend on the ICC. Registering for the Worldcup is a no brainer, 50 over cricket is almost dead. The business of cricket does not need respect or unity between nations. It is all about fame, money and power.

Posted by   on (July 1, 2010, 13:40 GMT)

Comparing John Howard to Robert Mugabe is completely unfair. Mr. Howard was democratically elected PM of Australia where as Mr. Mugabe is a Dictator. It's different issue that Mr. Howard does not have previous cricket admin experience. However looking at the current administrators on various cricketing boards in Sub Continent, they are politicians first and then cricket administrators (e.g.Mr. Sharad Pawar). Therefore argument by Indian board official about Mr. Howard is in valid. Being an assertive leader, the opposing Boards feel threatened by Mr. Howard's presidency. But being a true cricket fan we should keep these politics aside and better worry about the expansion of the game in other parts of the world.

Posted by   on (July 1, 2010, 13:34 GMT)

@Periander - Exactly. I hated him as PM but clearly to be at that level in any field suggests strong administrative ability. I find it interesting that Zimbabwe have been asking the cricketing world to ignore politics and support cricket in their nation, regardless of what is happening there. The suggestion being that sport and politics should be kept separate. Funny how it seems okay to involve politics in sport now. Just my 2 cents.

Posted by D.V.C. on (July 1, 2010, 13:30 GMT)

@Moona_sweepa: "appease their local politicians?" Mate, nobody from either side of politics in this country has taken the slightest bit of interest.

Posted by SnowSnake on (July 1, 2010, 13:15 GMT)

It would be very bad to reject someone and then select him because he will have an axe to grind against the nations that rejected him. Australia backing Howard only shows that Howard will come in with an agenda to back Australia's interest. Othewise, why should Australia get upset about Howard's rejection? In time, it is starting to appear that India and other nations did the right thing. Don't blame India, blame Australia and England for the veto power for decades. They were used to having an unfair advantage, and now we have a new-world-order which is hard to swallow by Australia. I think the current setup with strong lobbying is good for international cricket.

Posted by maidenwicket on (July 1, 2010, 12:57 GMT)

For someone who is an outspoken critic of select cricket countries should never be at the helm of affairs, as every move of his will be viewed with suspicion and distrust. Dont we have enough headaches already?

Posted by chaithan on (July 1, 2010, 12:15 GMT)

@periander: I am not commenting about Howard, but I disagree with your statement. Anybody who made it to his nation's top office is a good politician and not necessarily a good administrator. There's a big difference between the two.

Posted by lugujaga on (July 1, 2010, 11:51 GMT)

howard is a contrversial pick and to avoid this from causing devision in the icc, australia and new zeland should pick another nominee and stop insisting on howard who is clearly not wanted by the majority of the cricket boards that make up the icc;so australia stop beating a dead horse already for goodness sake

Posted by ram5160 on (July 1, 2010, 11:48 GMT)

Is this article supposed to be journalism? 1.Where is the Quotation from Isaac saying that he is angry or frustrated? Why do u try to lump NZC with CA? 2.Where are the articles showing the opposite POV, Howard s track record as a politico using the race card and so on? We have articles from Bal and Haigh supporting Howard, but surely equal space should be given to both sides of an argument. Frankly,we expect better from Cricinfo.

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