Muttiah Muralitharan says he has forgiven John Howard for publicly deciding in 2004 that he was a chucker but remained unconvinced of the former Australian prime minister's ability to woo the powerful Asian bloc. Howard was today nominated by the boards of Australia and New Zealand as their candidate for the post of ICC president from 2012 but Murali felt he would have to do plenty of convincing to do outside his home territory.
Murali, 37, had boycotted Sri Lanka's Test tour in 2004 after Howard copied the view of many of his subjects by questioning his action. "At the time I thought it was wrong - that was my opinion and he had his," he told the Age.
"It was not appropriate at the time but it's all [in the] past. We've got to think about the future: how is he going to handle things in cricket? It won't be an easy job. He has to convince the subcontinent - that's going to be a tough challenge for him."
Murali was subjected to crowd taunts during that visit to Australia but the reception he received during the World Cricket Tsunami Appeal in 2005, as well as a meeting with Howard afterward, changed his mind and he visited as part of the World XI later that year as well as during his country's tour in 2007-08.
The Australian captain Ricky Ponting believed Howard, who led the country from 1996 to 2007, would "do a terrific job for world cricket" while endorsing the nomination. "He gets my congratulations and he gets the congratulations of the team," he said in Napier. "It's great that someone of his standing wants the job. It can't hurt the ICC to have someone of his ilk in the position he's going to be in. It's not about Australia, it's not about anybody else, it's just about the global game and I'm sure he'll do a good job in that role. It's good news for cricket."