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HindustanTimes Tue,21 Oct 2014

Cricket Columns

On Howard, Australia not the way forward
Pradeep Magazine, Hindustan Times
July 03, 2010
First Published: 00:23 IST(3/7/2010)
Last Updated: 00:25 IST(3/7/2010)

It is very disturbing to realise that the "white" bloc and its supporters still remain insensitive to "race" related issues among the cricketing fraternity.

The nomination of former Australian Prime Minster John Howard, widely and I guess justifiably so perceived as a right winger and even "racist", for the ICC post was shocking, to put it mildly. His opposition to economic sanctions against apartheid South Africa and many other actions like whipping up anti-immigrant sentiment in the lead-up to the 2001 elections and his open support to the war in Iraq, would not make his popularity chart soar among the "black" bloc in the ICC.

After the rejection of his name by the South Asian nations, South Africa and the West Indies, the outrage expressed by some very respected and objective cricket writers from Australia is equally disappointing.

It is not my case to defend and support the ICC administration or the money power, which India routinely uses to browbeat other cricketing nations.

That India has become a bully, flush with all the money it generates for the game, and needs to act responsibly, goes without saying. That the Zimbabwe regime stinks is also a fact, which cannot be condoned.

And whether Sharad Pawar is the right man to head the ICC has also not been properly debated. Malcolm Speed has a point when he says that the man, whose job is to see that one and a half billion people of his country get two square meals a day, won't have the time for cricket administration. And if he has the time to do so, he will be neglecting his work as India's agriculture minister and that will, obviously, be a bigger tragedy for us, Indians.

These are issues to be commented about and my views on them are as strong as anyone else's.

But does this mean that the case against Howard is unjust? Do many wrongs make a right? I don't think even if India had supported Howard's nomination (Pawar was favouring it), South Africa, Pakistan, Bangladesh or even Sri Lanka would have followed suit.

I think those who favour Howard and his "honest" ways, and see this as a fight between the corrupt ICC and the common man, have failed to see the suspicion or even the depth of dislike the man evokes in our region.

It is because of this reason that Howard's nomination is shocking as it reflects how insensitive or ignorant Cricket Australia was to the sensibilities of the region.

Had it not been so, they would have known that it would be almost impossible to get his name ratified by the majority in the ICC, which, unfortunately for them, happens to be black.

By still not grasping the reality and blaming India for using its money and muscle power in stopping Howard's nomination, they could be pushing the cricket world, already in a mess, to a precipice.


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