Howard's Rejection Leaves ICC Divided

Singapore/Melbourne, July 1 (IANS) On the day when Sharad Pawar took over as the president of International Cricket Council (ICC), the game's governing body was clearly divided in two blocks following the rejection of former Australian prime minister John Howard's nomination for the vice president's post.

Cricket Australia (CA) and New Zealand Cricket (NZC) which floated Howard's nomination were left seething in anger as the strong Afro-Asian block, including the Indian cricket board, opposed the candidature at the ICC executive board meeting Wednesday.

Howard is adamant and said he won't withdraw his nomination.

"I won't be withdrawing," Sky News quoted Howard as saying on Thursday.

Not mincing words, CA chairman Jack Clarke said he felt "gutted and incredibly disappointed".

"If you keep having processes that don't work, or are not allowed to work, I am not too sure where they go from there. John wasn't putting his hand up for this job, he was asked by us," added Clarke.

Clarke said both Australia and New Zealand were "frustrated and deeply disappointed".

"What the genesis ... was, we don't know, that is one of the frustrating things apart from not having any reasons."

"You hope it doesn't affect the relationship but it obviously puts a block there for a while and makes you wary."

Although Clarke did not blame India for Howard's rejection, he reasoned the country's financial clout in the ICC guided the outcome.

"In any business model where a company has 75 per cent of the income, it's not an ideal model," he said. "But that is not India's fault ... it's a powerful bloc but it's a reality of life," Fox Sports quoted Clarke as saying.

New Zealand Cricket chairman Alan Isaac found the rejection of Howard's nomination unacceptable. "We have been unable to get a reason for the lack of support for our nomination and it's just not acceptable," Isaac said.

Had Howard been elected, he would have succeeded Pawar as ICC President in 2012.

Pawar, who took over as ICC president from David Morgan Thursday, had openly backed Howard for the job but the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) backtracked, rejecting Howard's candidature.

Pawar's overwhelming support in BCCI has waned after his support of Lalit Modi during the Indian Premier League controversy, and with the latest row over Howard, the veteran politican will have much in hand during his tenure.

The ICC has asked Australia and New Zealand to nominate a new candidate by the end of August.

Should CA and NZC decide to admit defeat on Howard, it is likely that former NZC and ICC administrator John Anderson would be sought again, having lost out to the former Australian prime minister in a selection process that was hotly-debated by the two countries.

Former ICC CEO Malcolm Speed said Howard was rejected because of his opposition to Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe.

"Rest assured, he (Howard) was not rejected because of his lack of experience as a cricket administrator, his strong opposition to Robert Mugabe's disastrous regime in Zimbabwe or his outspoken views about Muttiah Muralitharan's controversial bowling action. There is more to it than that," Speed said in his column in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Speed also alleged Pawar knows little about cricket administration.

"The man who is to be the next ICC president, Sharad Pawar, is the Minister for Agriculture in the Indian government - a serious full-time job, feeding 1.2 billion people. He is a good and fair man but he will be working part-time as ICC president and, take it from me, he knows little about cricket administration," Speed said.


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