It’s been a few years since Australia has seen or heard about John Howard but earlier this week the former PM re-entered the public arena to a decidedly mixed reception.
Mr Howard was jointly nominated by Cricket Australia (CA) and New Zealand Cricket (NZC) to be International Cricket Council (ICC) president from 2012 to 2014. Under the rotation policy employed by the ICC it was Australia and New Zealand’s turn to nominate a president and, assuming that Mr Howard’s nomination is ratified by the ICC, he will now serve two years as vice president under Sharad Pawar before taking the top job in 2012.
But Mr. Howard’s nomination has evoked mixed reactions among cricket fans, New Zealanders in particular.
The story goes that CA and NZC failed to agree on a nominee for the position and so each board nominated their own would-be president. Under the guiding hand of ‘neutral’ Australian businessman Sir Rod Eddington as chairman, a committee of CA and NZC board members deemed that Mr. Howard should receive the joint nomination.
While the chairmen of CA and NZC have both publicly stated their respect for Sir Rod Eddington, it’s not hard to see why some New Zealanders might feel a little disgruntled by the decision to nominate Mr. Howard. In an article on Wednesday entitled ‘“Fan” with no cricket experience gets top job’, the New Zealand Herald said the following;
‘The die was effectively cast when CA and NZC could not agree on a nomination, so formed a panel of two representatives apiece, chaired by Australian businessman Sir Rod Eddington. You do the maths.’
The criticisms continued with former New Zealand spin bowler John Morrison suggesting that NZC had been ‘bullied’ into nominating Mr Howard as ICC president. Mr Morrison argued that the nomination of the former Australian prime minister was extremely disappointing and that NZC’s nominee of choice, Sir John Anderson, would have been a far better choice.
Indeed, with a 13 year stint as NZC chairman under his belt, Sir John Anderson would seem to be the ideal candidate. By contrast, Mr Howard’s CV is conspicuously lacking in any form of cricket administration experience. In fact, it has been suggested that the only connection Mr. Howard has to the world of cricket is his status as a self-proclaimed ‘cricket tragic’.
It remains to be seen whether Mr. Howard’s extensive political and diplomatic experience will translate into an effective tenure as ICC president but, in the words of the Australian Associated Press, one thing’s for sure – ‘world cricket must hope that…John Howard delivers leadership better than he does an off-break’.
While debate about Mr Howard’s nomination continues off the field, on the field the Australian cricket team is keen to get back on the winners’ list. Having been set 276 runs for victory in Wednesday’s One Day International (ODI) in Napier, New Zealand passed Australia’s score with four balls to go thanks to some clean hitting by Scott Styris.
The loss comes after Australia was narrowly defeated by New Zealand in a tie-breaking ‘Super Over’ in last Sunday’s Twenty20 match.
While Australian skipper Ricky Ponting has promised a renewed focus in the four remaining ODIs against New Zealand, supporters of Australian cricket shouldn’t be overly concerned by the recent defeats. In a summer of cricket that featured six test matches, 10 ODIs and three Twenty20 matches against the West Indies and Pakistan combined, Australia remained undefeated and largely unchallenged.
However the same might not be the case in November when England takes to our shores for another inevitably-spirited Ashes campaign.
Matt de Neef is in his last semester of a Graduate Diploma of Journalism at La Trobe University. He is also the co-editor of upstart.