Howard will have to be a ‘nimble’ ICC chief from 2012

Melbourne: Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard won’t have to wield the willow when he becomes the game”s most powerful administrator. His footwork will need to be nimble, though.

Howard will become president of the International Cricket Council in 2012 after serving a two-year term as vice-president first.

According to The Daily Telegraph, Howard has become ICC vice-president in controversial circumstances. There was a long argument between the Australian and New Zealand cricket boards over who was the better choice — Howard or Kiwi businessman Sir John Anderson, who has a strong background in cricket administration, including 13 years on the ICC board.

The report says cricket has plenty of issues that will demand strong and knowledgeable leadership from India’s Sharad Pawar and Howard after him.

They include managing the Twenty20 explosion and its financial ramifications, the 50-over game’s future, Zimbabwe’s determination to re-enter Test cricket, terrorism threats and – if reports out of Pakistan are to be taken seriously – match fixing”s refusal to go away.

Despite his reputation as a ‘cricket tragic’, Howard will, inevitably, be seen as a political figure from outside the tent rather than a family member from inside it.

Does that matter? Not necessarily, said the only other Australian to have held the post, Melbourne businessman Malcolm Gray.

“What’s needed is somebody independent and strong who will stand up to all the nations, all the boards – including Australia – and not be swayed,” Gray said yesterday.

“It is a difficult job. Like every international forum or organisation, it is riven with politics.

“Black, white, rich, poor – all those undertones are always there and the alliances really do shift around, whereas in Australian politics it’s just two teams fighting each other.

“But he’s had enormous experience as head of the biggest organisation in this country and he’s obviously strong. He’ll be good.”

Gray, who succeeded Indian powerbroker Jaghoman Dalmiya in a political compromise in 2000 “after we had an enormous fight”, is not a fan of the selection process.

“I don’t want to criticise, but it has been a ridiculous process,” he said.

“Two countries have to decide and they both put up a candidate – [that’s why] you never have even numbers on a selection committee.”

Gray is a long-time mate of Australian businessman Sir Rod Eddington, who headed a committee to facilitate the decision.

“I met him in the street and gave him a 50c coin and said use that,” he said. (ANI)

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