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Waugh slams ICC's Howard veto

cricket Updated: Jul 02, 2010 21:44 IST

AFP
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Australia great Steve Waugh on Friday blasted the International Cricket Council's decision to block the bid of former Australia Prime Minister John Howard to become president of the global governing body.

"I think it was a real shame, I think he would have been fantastic for world cricket," former Australia captain Waugh said at a press conference held by the MCC's World Cricket Committee at Lord's here on Friday. "He has a passion for the game and he is a very good diplomat."

"I think he would have had the ability to bring people and boards together and I think it was a mistake not appointing him."

Howard, a passionate cricket lover, was put forward as Australia and New Zealand's joint candidate for the ICC's rotating vice presidency, with the expectation he would be rubber-stamped as its president two years later.

But at an ICC board meeting in Singapore on Wednesday, Howard's nomination was rejected. That provoked concerns of a split along racial lines with England, as well as Australia and New Zealand, believed to have supported the 70-year-old's bid while the powerful Afro-Asian bloc voted against him.

No reasons have yet been given by the ICC for the rejection of Howard whose appointment, as it was the turn of Australia and New Zealand to provide a candidate, should have been a formality.

But there was plenty of evidence in advance of the meeting to suggest it would be anything but straightforward. For a start, many officials were believed to be unhappy that Howard - who has no track record in cricket administration - was chosen ahead of former New Zealand Cricket chairman John Anderson.

And his vehement opposition, while Australian premier from 1996 to 2007, to the regime of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, which included sanctions against its cricket team, may well have counted against him.

So too would have his comment in 2004 that Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan was a "chucker", meaning someone with an illegal bowling action.

In 2006, Howard also strongly supported Australian umpire Darrell Hair, who outraged Pakistan by halting a Test match and awarding victory to England during a protest over ball-tampering allegations.