The ICC has demanded another vice-presidency candidate after John Howard's nomination was rejected by its executive board in Singapore. A move which began with members from six countries signalling their intention to block the appointment on Tuesday turned into an official rejection of Australia's former prime minister today.
The ICC confirmed the decision this afternoon following an executive meeting that was supposed to formalise Howard's election. No vote was taken and Cricket Australia and New Zealand Cricket were asked to re-nominate a candidate by August 31.
The ICC said in a statement: "Following lengthy consideration it was recognised that the nomination put forward by Cricket Australia and New Zealand Cricket did not have sufficient support within the ICC board."
Cricket Australia's chairman Jack Clarke and his New Zealand Cricket counterpart Alan Isaac said in a joint statement they were "deeply disappointed" after supplying "the best possible candidate". "We jointly nominated Mr Howard as he possesses significant leadership and administrative skills," they said. "We believe cricket needs to continue to seek excellence and dispassionate independence in the game's global governance.
"We were delighted that the most senior world figure ever considered for this role agreed to accept the nomination. We remain convinced it is reasonable for his nomination to be supported by the ICC executive board and we are deeply disappointed by the position taken."
Initial rumblings from Zimbabwe and South Africa in April became an all-conquering alliance when India signed up along with their subcontinent neighbours this week. It leaves the ICC without a deputy to be paraded alongside India's Sharad Pawar when he takes over the presidency from David Morgan this week.
The position taken by the six board members on Tuesday night was believed to be an attempt to force Howard to withdraw his nomination before the meeting. Howard remained in the race but lost the one-man raffle at the Raffles convention centre, ending the 70-year-old's cricket administration career before it was allowed to begin.
Seven votes were required to seal the deal but Australia, New Zealand and England were the only supporters of Howard before the meeting among the game's 10 major countries. The six members signed a letter on Tuesday effectively stopping the appointment, but Zimbabwe, the most strident back-room protestor of Howard's nomination, was not one of them.
During Howard's 11-year term as prime minister he was critical of Robert Mugabe's regime and was responsible for banning the team from touring the country in 2007. Howard visited Zimbabwe cricket officials last week in an unsuccessful effort to smooth relations with the board. Once India turned from Howard there was no chance of him gaining enough support, with Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh believed to have sided with their all-powerful neighbour.
Howard was the joint nomination of Cricket Australia and New Zealand Cricket for the role as part of the rotational system employed by the ICC. Under the regulations, Howard would have assumed the presidency in 2012 after Pawar's two-year term.
While the two countries have remained committed to Howard, his selection was complicated by New Zealand's wish to choose Sir John Anderson, its long-term respected administrator. An independent committee was charged with breaking the deadlock and once Howard emerged as the winner the boards were publicly united. However, the delay provided fuel for the opponents to question whether New Zealand had been out-muscled by Australia.
Confirmation of Howard's role - he was nominated in March - was expected in April, but Zimbabwe raised their concerns through South African officials outside an ICC meeting in Dubai. The issue dragged on and Clarke and his chief executive James Sutherland were still lobbying for support over the past couple of days.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo