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Cricket historian and writer in Melbourne

The case for Howard

Those railing against the former Australian PM are not shining examples of rectitude themselves

Gideon Haigh

June 23, 2010

Comments: 39 | Text size: A | A

John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister, at the MRF Pace Academy, March 8, 2006
If lack of cricket knowledge is Howard's crime, there are plenty of other administrators who can be hanged for the same offence © AFP
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All those in favour of John Howard, say "aye"…

Come on, I know you're out there. I can hear you breathing. And for any politician, so it goes. It is a paradox of democracy that politicians, desperate to court popularity, and living or dying by it, are doomed to widespread unpopularity. Politicians are almost invariably elected by bare majorities, meaning they start with the disapproval of, at the least, a sizeable minority; these ranks gradually swell with disillusioned former supporters and the previously indifferent. There being no policy that does not disadvantage someone, this number grows inexorably, until one day you're looking at your post-political options. As is John Howard at the moment.

The one option in particular, vice-presidency of the ICC, is not exactly a plum job. The pay is non-existent. The company is pretty dubious. The powers are heavily circumscribed. The largest and most important member holds the body in contempt and undermines it at every opportunity. The cricket public everywhere think the organisation is a joke. That Howard is willing to accept such a frankly thankless task reveals a hitherto-unsuspected streak of masochism. Except that Howard raises the hackles of certain of the ICC's members, with no objection in particular but every objection in general.

As the debate has made partisans of everyone, a preliminary note is necessary. I write here as someone to whom Howard the politician did not appeal, and who cast his every available vote against him, even to the point of voting for some I knew to be total plonkers. I even have reservations about whether he is entirely the right person to assume the presidency of the ICC. On the other hand, in reviewing the objections expressed to him I'm not persuaded he's the wrong person. Let us examine them, as coolly as we can.

HOWARD IS A POLITICIAN: This is the easiest objection to dispose of, because Howard is not a politician. He is a former politician. Same difference? Former politicians the world over would beg to differ. After Winston Churchill lost the British election of 1945, he "wished every day for death". John Winston Howard's perspective, I imagine, would not be nearly so extreme, but I suspect he can give you chapter and verse on the distinction between the two states of being. A politician out of office is like a batsman without a bat: just a man, of greater or lesser ability. Howard, in fact, is twice removed from power: he is retired, and the party he once led is undergoing a spell in opposition that, at least until very recently, looked like being long and protracted.

There is an argument that even former politicians by murk of their prior doings bring the risk of controversy to their role. But if an extensive, ongoing and chequered political career hasn't stood in the way of Sharad Pawar's rise to eminence, then what conceivable objection can be made to Howard? Say what you like of him in other respects, he remained in his career almost boringly free of the taint of corruption. Want to stop John Howard? You'll have to do better than this.

HOWARD IS NOT A CRICKET PERSON: This is the objection of Sri Lanka Cricket, whose interim committee chairman Somachandra De Silva believes that "on principle it is the wrong thing to do to bring someone from outside for the vice-presidency". But from outside what? From outside cricket's governing circles? Does the game's existing administrative elite so abound in talent that it would not benefit from the expertise and disinterested perspectives of a well-credentialled outsider. Sorry Mr Mandela, if only you'd served the afternoon teas at the cricket games on Robben Island, we might have been able to get you in on a technicality. Sri Lanka's sports minister Chandrasiri Ratnayake recently deemed their cricket board the country's "third most corrupt organisation"; not exactly a ringing endorsement of those on the inside of the virtuous administrative circle at Sri Lanka Cricket.

The evidence, in fact, is all the other way, that the traditional means by which cricket has been promoted from within are failing hopelessly, generating a succession of shonks and mediocrities, many of them from the self-same countries now trying to impede Howard's progress. From South Africa comes Percy Sonn. From Sri Lanka comes Thilanga Sumathipala. From Pakistan comes Ijaz Butt. Not that Australia is exemplary in this respect either. Jack Clarke is a likeable fellow, but is he really the individual best qualified to chair its cricket board?

 
 
The skills important to a presidency or chairmanship are not the ability to bowl a doosra or quote the hit-wicket law from memory, but those of being able to take wise counsel, ask intelligent questions and run effective meetings
 

In any event, and with all due respect to De Silva, who at stages in the 1970s may have been the best legspinner in the world, the eligibility for office at ICC of those without a direct involvement in cricket administration is not his to deem. The ICC's constitution does not disallow it; on the contrary, Pakistan nominated Ehsan Mani as ICC president seven years ago, when he did not even live in his home country, and nobody batted an eyelid.

Howard's non-cricket personhood might also be argued to derive from his knowledge of the game. It's an old line in Australia, usually made by someone asserting their own superior knowledge: "That bloody Howard - I know more about cricket than he does." Short of entering Howard in Cricket Mastermind, with perhaps Sharad Pawar, Lalit Modi and Giles Clarke as fellow contestants, I'm not sure how this is to be established, and whether it actually matters. The skills important to a presidency or chairmanship are not the ability to bowl a doosra or quote the hit-wicket law from memory, but those of being able to take wise counsel, ask intelligent questions and run effective meetings. Eleven years of balancing interests and corralling a cabinet as a country's prime minister seem ample evidence of these skills in Howard.

There remains in Sri Lanka, of course, residual ill-feeling about Howard's remarks six years ago concerning Muttiah Muralitharan. Fair enough too. The comments were ill-informed and tactless; they also caused grave disappointment at Cricket Australia, who had been keen for Murali to tour. In straining for a populist soundbite, Howard forgot the considered views both of his political hero Sir Robert Menzies, that world sporting competition when used for "stirring up sensation, for looking for trouble, and if necessary creating it" could do "almost as much to create international bitterness as any political factor", and his cricket hero Sir Donald Bradman, that the problem of illegal actions is "the most complex I have known in cricket, because it is not a matter of fact but of opinion". On the other hand, all he expressed was that: an opinion. Less dogmatism and more understanding would have served him better, but the straightforward expression of an honestly held view is not to be deplored merely because one happens to disagree with it.

HOWARD IS A RACIST: For many Australians, Howard was a disappointing leader, ever the politician, seldom the statesman. He grappled uneasily with the politics of race, as every Australian prime minister has and probably always will. He pursued policies towards refugees that were iniquitous and inhumane in application, even if mandatory detention was an innovation of the administration before his. He made little headway on improving the lot of Australia's benighted aboriginal population, and his behaviour at the Reconciliation Convention in May 1997 was ignominious at best, although there was also an argument that symbolic gestures towards reconciliation in advance of an amelioration of indigenous living standards were premature if not empty.

The common cliché used to describe Howard as "divisive", however, was often rather casually applied. Politics in a democracy is inherently divisive, insofar as it involves the implementation of one from a range of policy options, thereby antagonising the advocates of others. Those fondest of the word "divisive" in a political context are usually those on the wrong side of the divide.

To Howard's perceived political sins, moreover, patterns could be difficult to detect. He was too conservative for some, too radical for others; he was disparaged both as too much the ideologue and too much the pragmatist. In this sense, he was the classically supple modern political operative, in perennial and sometimes opportunistic pursuit of electoral advantage, as succinctly expressed by his biographers Wayne Errington and Peter van Onselen: "At various points in his administration, Howard has promoted regulation and deregulation, freedom and authority, self-interest and community feeling… Because of such inconsistencies between action and rhetoric, supporters and critics cannot recognise the John Howard described by their respective foes." A condensation of his politics simply as "racist", then, will signify more about the speaker than Howard.

This whole debate, in fact, has revealed much more about its participants than the object of their ire. It has been difficult to keep up with some of the misinformation in circulation. To choose one example from Pakistan's Dawn, in which Sohaib Alvi revealed exclusively that "in 2002 Howard snubbed President Pervez Musharraf's assurance of VVIP level security and disallowed Australia's cricket team to tour Pakistan"; this, said Alvi, conferred on the Pakistan Cricket Board's embattled Ijaz Butt "the opportunity to become an instant hero among all his detractors by casting a vote against" the Australian.

Pakistan must be sadly short of heroes at present if this is how they are reduced to minting them. Alvi also happens to be 180 degrees wrong. Howard was strongly in favour of Australia touring Pakistan that year, precisely because Australia, like the US, regarded Musharraf as a bulwark against Islamic extremism. Howard urged Cricket Australia to accept the PCB's invitation; it was Cricket Australia who, for security reasons, insisted on the fixtures being relocated offshore. Few plights are sorrier in world cricket than the isolation in which Pakistan cricket fans languish through no fault of their own, and Australia in not touring for 12 years has nothing to be proud of. But Howard, who visited Pakistan less than five years ago and bowled perhaps the most replayed long hop in history, isn't to blame.

The sentiment Alvi expressed in his piece, furthermore, was actually worse than misinformed; it was malevolent. There is a lot of this about. In cricket's global governance, sad to say, the chief priority seldom seems to be that of promoting the game's interests or preserving its cohesion; it appears far more important to exact mindless retribution for past wrongs, real or imagined. The culture is no longer of give and take, or even civilised disagreement, but of a kind of smouldering umbrage, permanently on the verge of exploding. In this case, one might as well name and shame. The casus belli of the dispute over Howard's nomination is that he argued against, and finally insisted on the cancellation of, an Australian tour of Zimbabwe.


Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Peter Chingoka at the ICC conference, Dubai, July 4, 2008
It isn't exactly surprising that the likes of Peter Chingoka (centre) are making a noise about Howard's nomination © AFP
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This insistence represented a shift of philosophy for Howard. Over the Liberal Party he joined in the 1960s was the long shadow cast by Menzies, who publicly supported the continuation of cricket links with South Africa in the midst of a growing sporting boycott. Menzies' view was conditioned by his belief that nations had absolute sovereignty over their domestic affairs, however much they be disapproved of by other countries; he also had a sentimental attachment to South African cricket as it was then constituted.

Howard inherited and adhered to these attitudes to the extent of anachronism. But he has changed rather more positions than might be expected from one with his reputation for intransigence. The efficacy in South Africa's case of sporting sanctions as an expression of disapproval persuaded Howard that they were appropriate in the case of Zimbabwe, whose rancid, democidal president is patron of the nation's cricket governing body.

That Zimbabwe should be making the most noise about Howard's nomination is not surprising; that the board should be regarded as doing so in good faith is entirely remarkable. Zimbabwe's Peter Chingoka's international pariah-hood is the reason the ICC board has to convene not in any of its traditional homes but in Singapore. His transparent purpose here is to expedite Zimbabwe's rehabilitation as a Test nation, and to shore up his political support at home. For what it's worth, I hope for Zimbabwe's return too: a touch of their amateur zeal would be a tonic in this grimly professional day and age. But it should be a decision based on the best interests of world cricket, not on the best interests of Peter Chingoka.

In any case, what sort of governance is this that takes its cues in moral arbitration from associates of one of the cruellest and most corrupt political criminals of modern times? Whom else would Zimbabwe and its suggestible South African allies have us be rid of in international cricket? How about Andy Flower, who wore a black armband in the 2003 World Cup, mourning the death of democracy in his home country? How about Richie Benaud and Ian Chappell, because one managed and the other played in a Wanderers XI in South Africa after that country's exile from Test cricket? Let's be thorough: why not withhold accreditation for ICC events to any journalist who has criticised Robert Mugabe? This would at least be entirely consistent with Zimbabwe's attitudes to freedom of the press.

The countries arguing against Howard's nomination for the ICC vice-presidency disgrace themselves. They purport to be on an idealistic crusade for the purity of cricket government, but their real purpose is to preserve its sleazy deal-doing dysfunctionality, while enjoying the sensation of rubbing Australia's nose in it along the way. They travesty a great and noble cause, the fight against racism, by using it as a decoy from their motivations, to the extent that the cry of "racist" in cricket now has barely any moral utility left. In doing so, irony of ironies, they also present the strongest possible argument for the recruitment of someone from outside this rotten system, be that John Howard or another figure of stature owing no fealty to anyone, to reform it.

Gideon Haigh is a cricket historian and writer

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Posted by Steve145 on (June 26, 2010, 7:54 GMT)

Thanks Gideon Haigh for this article. I myself hated Howards policies, and do not necessarily think he is the best equipped. However, it is his years a politician that will help him in the ICC, not his policies. I think that a very capable man, if not the best, has been put forward. It is convention for this not to be opposed, and I think that this power should only be invoked if there is a serious problem. Gideon Haigh has formed a legitimate opinion and presented it well.

Posted by Suresh_Krishnamurthy on (June 25, 2010, 14:31 GMT)

This article confirms the comprehensive fall from grace of Gideon Haigh, one of the most informed cricket writers that I have ever read. Ever since the advent of T20 and corrupt politicians from India, it has been very easy to predict Gideon's responses. For him, if Asian boards say something, then only the diametrically opposite view can be true. Unfortunately, for us, the fall in his writing standards is simply unacceptable. Steve Miller is on the money in his comments. T20 may not have destroyed Test Cricket atleast not yet, but has certainly heralded a decline in quality of cricket writing

Posted by Teece on (June 25, 2010, 12:40 GMT)

I can't stand Howard, but it's our turn to nominate the president. Period. We haven't liked the ones you've put up, either. This isn't a case of overlooking the fact there are people who would've been better for the job, as has been suggested in the comments. It's not us saying we're perfect. It's a matter of you needing to accept that someone annoying but qualified is going to be in the job, and if we can tolerate butchers' sidekicks you can put up with Howard. Christ knows we had to for long enough.

Posted by SteveMiller on (June 25, 2010, 1:53 GMT)

This is an argument against other candidates, rather than an argument for Howard. Howard simply has too much baggage, and that would inevitably get in the way of him doing his job well. CA could have put forward any number of candidates who would have gotten up, but chose to go with Howard, somebody who was always likely to be problematic. Why?

Many, many people in Australia regard him as a racist---based on policies and positions going back decades (apartheid, immigration, indigenous affairs, engagement with Asia). He *is* divisive. He is a bad candidate. That other candidates might be just as bad or worse, for different reasons, does not make him a good candidate.

Posted by Bournie on (June 25, 2010, 1:15 GMT)

Excuse me,Australia is in no position to complain about the opposition to Mr Howard.It was Australia that bulldozed a far more deserving candidate from New Zealand.

Posted by E-Train on (June 25, 2010, 0:12 GMT)

That John Howard is/was a politician already is his greatest asset as a cricket administrator. He isn't afraid of being unpopular so long as he believes his decision is in the best interests of the people they are made for- not necessarily the popular interests. He understands what can be compromised and what can't be. And his personal integrity is above reproach. In such a factional, corrupt and self-interested board this should bring the members into line and finally stop them cashing in on the current climate- leading to issues of saturation of matches and player burn out amongst others- and hopefully ensure the longevity of the game.

Posted by   on (June 24, 2010, 23:21 GMT)

Why is there need to write this long long article to defend Howard and make criminals of the other countries and boards. Can't any country think of it self and their own interest before casting a vote? Why should Howard be unopposed? Why can't there be free will against an Australian nominee?

Posted by   on (June 24, 2010, 23:07 GMT)

I dont understand why a popular cricket columnist would try to be Howard's lapdog? The credibility of a person has to be put under the microscope before he can be allowed to uphold any post. If that is being done with Howard, whats so wrong with it?

Posted by Ozboy on (June 24, 2010, 20:10 GMT)

John Howard - why? His failures as a PM are too many to list. His other claim to fame is the number of times he was photographed with Dubya. He looked smitten and why shouldn't he be. I am more disgusted at Gideon that he choses to advocate Howard's candidacy. Howard was a divisive force in Australian politics. Hired Hollingworth as the Governor General of Australia and ended up with egg on his face. Refused to say sorry to the Stolen Generation. There was of course the boat people controversy when he initiated a campaign against asylum seekers. He was a fear monger PM but the Australian public saw through him and he lost from his own constituency. At least Sharad Pawar still wins elections on his own turf. Not that I endorse Sharad Pawar either but Gideon seems to think if SP is allowed then JH is a shoe-in.

Posted by Johnnyt on (June 24, 2010, 18:34 GMT)

Mr Haigh, I don't know if I'm that happy about you presenting such an excellent arguement for the much-hated Mr Howard. You have managed to make me look past my strong dislike for the man and his actions to the point I agree that he is probably the best candidate for the role, now that the New Zealand candidate is out of the picture. Despite my almost irrational dislike of the man I have never doubted his incorruptability (honesty is another question) and opposition by sleazy and possibly evil men are really glowing endorsements in my book.

Posted by Homer2007 on (June 24, 2010, 18:22 GMT)

What an elitist argument, and such a dumb one! Since when did being "shining examples of rectitude" become a necessary condition for opining on any issue, never mind one that impacts the countries in question directly? And since when did faults, perceived or real, become an impediment in voicing genuine concerns regarding the functioning and values the next President of the ICC ?

Posted by   on (June 24, 2010, 16:53 GMT)

Ever since this whole Howard-thing started, everyone conveniently ignored the Sharad Power issue, so I am glad to see someone finally looked at the elephant in the dark room that noone wanted to talk about. Seriously is cricket in such a dire crisis that there is none better than the Power to run it?

Posted by dineshmek on (June 24, 2010, 12:47 GMT)

Putting aside the justifications of Mr. Haigh, i can agree that ICC is a dubious organization and Haigh wants Mr. Howard to be its President (going to be in 2012, once elected VP now). I leave the rest to others' imagination

Posted by proteasfan99 on (June 24, 2010, 12:20 GMT)

Howard now wants Zimbabwe's support yet he is the man that was jointly responsible for our cricketing isolation. It is silly for him to ask for such a favour and it would be stupid for ZC to rally behind his ICC v.president nomination..

Posted by andrew.henshaw on (June 24, 2010, 11:58 GMT)

@Kapsy: John Howard is a war criminal? seriously? Please don't make sensalist comments unless you are going to back them up. Even using that argument where does that leave Chingoka any cricket board that sympathizes with Zimbabwe?

Posted by Uranium on (June 24, 2010, 11:30 GMT)

Good article "The countries arguing against Howard's nomination for the ICC vice-presidency disgrace themselves. They purport to be on an idealistic crusade for the purity of cricket government, but their real purpose is to preserve its sleazy deal-doing dysfunctionality" So true.

Posted by Gizza on (June 24, 2010, 7:55 GMT)

Haha conservative Australians. Gideon mate, as an Aussie of Indian descent, I would say that you have no idea what Australian migrants (and non-white non-Australians) think of Johnny Howard. The fact of the matter is that John Howard lost his own seat because of the change in the electorate area. The Bennelong seat included a much higher percentage of Chinese and Korean Australians, and he got hammered accordingly.

Sorry but calling Mandela a terrorist and sympathising with the apartheid but so quickly denouncing Mugabe is hypocritical at best. And to be honest sport should be affected by politics when sport can make a difference. Nobody in the world whinged when Iran and North Korea played in the FIFA World Cup Finals in 2006 and 2010 respectively. Many African and South American teams have been dictatorships where ethnic minorities have been persecuted.

The only decent argument you put up is that many of the other cricket administrators in the world are just as bad if not worse.

Posted by nrravid on (June 24, 2010, 7:20 GMT)

Best way to go forward is Mr.Howard expresses his regret and apologize for his comments against Murali (definitely illfounded). He can say he has made the comment with incomplete informaton. SL and other nations then should not oppose his candidature. This will help everyone to forget and move forward. As regards Howard's ability to shake up ICc - I am not sure.

Posted by Andre2 on (June 24, 2010, 7:15 GMT)

Now that Kevin Ruud has lost his positon as Australian Prime Minister, may I suggest that he go for Vice-President of the ICC. He knows cricket too and has never said anything wrong to Lankans and other cricketers ! And he is now available !

Posted by Rahul_78 on (June 24, 2010, 6:53 GMT)

Two wrongs dont make one right Mr.Gideon. I have lot of respect for you as a writer of spreme pedigree but expected more from you than wasting so much space and energy on someone like howard whom u r disagreeing with and critisizing throughout the article. R u trying to say that india has sharad pawar and zim has mugabe so australia is right in having Howard? Some commen sense should prevail and instead we should ask why CA couldnt come up with better choice for the symbolic but still prestigious post. I cant agree tht aussis dont have better choices than this. Cricket needs a good administrators with sound cricketing knowledge to make a positive difference. I doubt if mr.howard can qualify on both count. There r lot of imp issues like match fixing, power imbalance, ODIs future etc tht needs very clever handling. Come on gideon, u knw it well that to support a wrong decision for the heck of it doesnt augure well for anybody.

Posted by kapsy on (June 24, 2010, 6:49 GMT)

Gideon, Johnny Howard is a war criminal. He has no place in Cricket. Simple.

Posted by Rooboy on (June 24, 2010, 6:36 GMT)

@Fahad Arshad - what on earth are you on about ?! Your murderer analogy is ridiuculous - killing someone is not expressing an opinion, and expressing an opinion is not the same as admitting you killed someone. People from the subcontinent need to realise that people are allowed to speak freely in Australia and that divergent opinions are not a crime. I think murali is a chucker too but the fact that others have a different opinion does not make me angry or hysterical, so why are you so intolerant of anyone with an opposing opinion?

Posted by   on (June 24, 2010, 6:14 GMT)

I didnt knew this writer can write anything other than BCCI/India bashing. you really surprised me.

Posted by madubashana on (June 24, 2010, 5:57 GMT)

Well he was irresponsible six years ago (according to authors own words), commenting about Murali, misinformed or may be deliberate, but he should have done better being a leader of a country. What is the guarantee that he will not make future decisions based on ill-information? what is the basis that the author can guarantee that he has improved? For me a villain will remain one, unless proven otherwise

Posted by   on (June 24, 2010, 5:32 GMT)

"On the other hand, all he expressed was that: an opinion. Less dogmatism and more understanding would have served him better, but the straightforward expression of an honestly held view is not to be deplored merely because one happens to disagree with it. "

So his opinion does not reflect on the kind of mindset he possesses? Honesty does not translate towards innocence. A murderer who pleads guilty is a murderer nonetheless. So what if these incompetant (and I agree with you there) boards are out for blood too then, since that is expected of them, but what goes to say that backing Howard would result in him not following up his opinions with drastic actions? What would possibly stop him then?

Very unreal statement!

Posted by vswami on (June 24, 2010, 4:39 GMT)

In fact ICC was in shambles as a dictatorship for over 100 years when virtually no one other than Australia and England had a voice. It works far better now with more people having a say in things. As it happens in any democracy, when everyone talks, there is a lot of disagreement and noise. Howard never supported democracy in SA and was a supporter of white majority. Is it so hard to see why SA and Zimbabwe are not too pleased with him ( not forgetting his decision to bomb the heck out of innocent Afghans in an illegal war ).

Posted by   on (June 24, 2010, 3:21 GMT)

@sifter132 Sri Lankan's don't have anything against Gilchrist? Speak for yourself. Just search for "Adam Gilchrist True Colors" on youtube. Glichrist lost the respect of most of us as soon as he stooped down to name calling to sell his book. And if he nicked it he should have walked and he duely did in the 2003 wc. Did you forget how Marven Atapattu called Andrew Symonds back after the umpire gave him a wrong lbw decision? The only time a captain has done it for a lbw in the history of international cricket. You aussies seem to conviniently forget anything that contradicts to your own opinion.

Posted by del_ on (June 24, 2010, 2:50 GMT)

Great article summarising the obvious ambitions of the objecting boards and pointing out along the way a system that doesn't look out for the interests of cricket, but for individual point scoring. I for one was a big denoucer of Howard and voted opposingly to him in every election, but I believe he is exactly what the ICC needs. His political position and ability to stay in power for over a decade, all the while continuing to grow our economy, speaks to his more-than-adequate ability for management. That he does not have a cricketing background as other candidates might is actually another positive - he is a cricket-tragic that has a fond love of the game and will go into the position with no agenda other than to further the game, as he has not come through Cricket Australia and had to make alliances/deals to get nominated. So he would provide an independant and experienced view on the current poor management of a game he loves - which is exactly what cricket needs.

Posted by dinosaurus on (June 24, 2010, 1:44 GMT)

AndyZaltzmannsHair

Unlike the UK (under Margaret Thatcher), Australia (mainly under Malcolm Fraser at the time) consistently worked hard to entrench the SA and Rhodesia boycotts which ultimately resulted in majority rule in both countries. So the "fair dinkum" ways you disparage actually did some good.

Posted by   on (June 24, 2010, 0:55 GMT)

@Andrew, rules have not changed. Yes its Aus/NZ turn to nominate their candidate this time around but all countries have approve the nomination, and they have the right to refuse. The fact that this has never happaned before shows that this nomination is a joke.

Posted by EdwardTLogan on (June 23, 2010, 23:45 GMT)

The sooner the Asian nations lose their power base, the better. It doesn't really matter if Howard takes over (although I think he will do an excellent job) - the key is to take a step back and assess the damage that has been done to international cricket over recent years. Howard must ensure that Test cricket remains THE principal form of the game in the international arena, supported by ODIs. Leave T20 to domestic leagues where it belongs.

Posted by nate63 on (June 23, 2010, 23:29 GMT)

The ICC is a joke at the moment, how can you take anything seriously - Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa Zimbabwe and Bangladesh's Representatives are from failing democracries. India is imploding thanks to their power hungry politicians. West Indies boards have constant bickering because they are not even a country. England board has its own problems with trying to work out how to resolve their infrastructure to produce their own players. Its a shambles.

The strength of howard is his lack of knowledge, in the sense that he hasn't been exposed to the corrupt going on's, it makes him somewhat independant and provides an ability to identify the areas that need to be improved.

The fact is things wont change if the ICC appoints people strictly approved by them, it will only perpetuate given the incumbent will be obligated to them. Howard may not be the best person in the world, but at the moment, he is the best option out there.

Posted by SRT_Jammy_Dada_VVS_and_Anil_legends on (June 23, 2010, 22:41 GMT)

Actually the objection I have is that he is gaining the job simply because he was a famous politician. There has been no examination of whether his appointment is justified on meritorious grounds- which it isn't.

Posted by sifter132 on (June 23, 2010, 22:25 GMT)

Great article Gideon. There are many who are being far too closed minded with their opinions on Howard. I believe we need a man like Howard without the baggage of a cricket administration history to come in and shake the ICC up. Just to add to your point on Howard calling Murali a chucker, Adam Gilchrist said the same in 2002. Yet he suffers virtually no consequences of that comment, is one of cricket's most respected ex-players and Sri Lankans don't seem to have anything against him. Maybe it's because he walked in the 2003 World Cup, suddenly all angst was forgotten when their side got the benefit?

Posted by andrew.henshaw on (June 23, 2010, 18:13 GMT)

Oh come on guys - as bad as Howard was no one has made any convincing arguments that he would be any worse than Percy Sonn. It is blatant hypocrisy regardless of your personal views of Howard. Are there better men for the job? Probably - Is it Aus/NZ's turn to nominate the next ICC president? Did they choose Howard? Why have the rules now changed?

Posted by   on (June 23, 2010, 17:28 GMT)

he remained in his career almost boringly free of the taint of corruption??

Really there was something called the AWB scandal which of course he cleverly got himself out of. Anyway your article is catered to the republicans*10billion type of audience which makes up the majority of the australian landscape (specially the celts).

Posted by AndyZaltzmannsHair on (June 23, 2010, 16:31 GMT)

Are there better men for the job? Yes, I hear... well then that's enough reason alone to not choose John Howard for anything cricket related. The man probably isn't a 'racist' but close enough anyway, he is in fact a xenophobe, and one of the last breed of the old timers who believe it's their duty to impose themselves on others because of their "White Man's Burden". No thankyou, keep your fair dinkum ways to yourself.

Posted by vswami on (June 23, 2010, 16:11 GMT)

Howard is a guy who maintained his stand that Mandela was a 'terrorist' until Mandela became President. There are better people in this world to choose from.

Posted by andrew.henshaw on (June 23, 2010, 14:57 GMT)

Excellent article Gideon. You have articulated the idiosyncrasies of the ICC well. It really is a dysfunctional organisation worse than any political party with shameless self interest ruling over common sense.

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Gideon Haigh Born in London of a Yorkshire father, raised in Australia by a Tasmanian mother, Gideon Haigh lives in Melbourne with a cat, Trumper. He has written 19 books and edited a further seven. He is also a life member and perennial vice-president of the South Yarra CC.

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Kohli, Root, Smith and Williamson will take turns as the No. 1 Test batsman. So far each has shown only one technical weakness

'I couldn't bring myself to set a batsman up by giving him runs'

Glenn McGrath talks about the method behind his metronomic consistency, visualisation, and why aggression isn't about sledging

Dhoni doesn't heed his own warning

Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff

The curse of the Sharmas

Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge

Utseya joins Brandes, Rossouw joins Tendulkar

Plays of the day from the tri-series match between Zimbabwe and South Africa

News | Features Last 7 days