Zimbabwe to challenge Howard’s ICC nomination

Melbourne, May 29 (IANS) Despite the backing of incoming International Cricket Council (ICC) president-elect Sharad Pawar, former Australian prime minister John Howard may still find it difficult to take his place the next time around.

The Australian reported that after Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe is also against Howard’s nomination and the former prime minister may suffer for the deeds of ex-ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed.

Speed was sacked two years ago because he instituted what became a damning investigation into the Zimbabwe Cricket Union’s (ZCU) finances.

The ICC still refuses to release the report and accoring to the daily is financing a ZCU administration which has such close links to the Robert Mugabe regime.

ZCU president Peter Chingoka, who has close links with Mugabe, and is banned from travelling to Australia, the UK and the EU. And next month’s annual meeting, which needs to ratify Howard’s position, is being held in Singapore instead of the traditional location of Lord’s in London so Chingoka can attend.

The ZCU has now mounted an unprecedented behind-the-scenes campaign to block Howard’s candidacy, fearing his strident opposition to the Mugabe regime and, by extension, the ZCU administration, will be brought to the ICC board table.

Chingoka motivated South Africa, which often acts as proxy for the discredited Zimbabwe, to challenge Howard’s nomination.

The unexpected impasse became yet another embarrassment for cricket when last month’s ICC meeting failed to automatically ratify the proposal. Instead it was taken off the table to avoid a damaging split among leading cricket nations.

The ICC is divided into five regions of two cricket nations, with each region in turn nominating a vice-president who, after two years, becomes president for another two years.

Australia is grouped with New Zealand, which rightly expected that its highly respected and long-serving former president, John Anderson, would be the regional nomination given Australia’s Malcolm Gray held the ICC presidency a decade or so ago.