Posted by: nestaquin | January 22, 2010

Resurrecting John Winston Howard

While I’m anticipating the beginning of the five match ODI series between Australia and Pakistan in Brisbane this afternoon, the Australian cricketing media is far more interested about the possibility of former Prime Minister John Howard being nominated as the Australasian candidate for the vacant position of Deputy Chairman of the ICC.

Admittedly, I’m not fully conversant with the machinations of the sports’ ruling body but I can inform that it is Australia and New Zealand’s turn to place someone in the post and after two years as deputy the candidate will then automatically become ICC Chairman.

After having a long career as a politician and holding many of the most important political and administrative posts in the country, Mr Howard obviously has the ability and experience to do the job. His political cunning is probably unparalleled in modern Australian history and he does have a deep love of the game so on the surface at least he appears a sound choice to administrate at the highest level.

However, his ultra-conservative nature and Machavellian methods make him a divisive choice. He has shown throughout his political life that he’ll do whatever is necessary to get his agenda accepted and without the prospect of having an electorate to keep him in check, cricket could be in for a torrid political era if Mr Howard does indeed take up residence in Dubai.

Although, at present, I’m ambivalent to his appointment, I understand him well enough to know that he will, without doubt, protect the sanctity of Test cricket and be unforgiving in pushing Australian, and probably, English interests too. He also has little time for Mugabe and other dictators, and the guaranteed spats between Howard and the BCCI will make for great entertainment.

It’s not a done deal yet and I’m sure the prospect of John Howard ruling cricket is causing blood pressure to rise throughout the cricketing world. While he may be a controversial choice, he understands power intimately and his blinkered idealism will ensure that he won’t be a sycophant to individual Boards or worship at the alter of Mammon as some of his predecessors have done all too willingly.

At this early stage I guess we can only be certain of one thing. John Winston Howard will have a vision for cricket and by hook or by crook he will implement it. If history is any indicator his will be a turbulent tenure. Whether that will be good for the game only time will tell.



  1. Nesta,

    “I understand him well enough to know that he will, without doubt, protect the sanctity of Test cricket and be unforgiving in pushing Australian, and probably, English interests too.” – If he is going to be pushing Australian and probably English interests, wont he be a sycophant to individual Boards?

    I just want him and Chingoka in the same room, or him and Ranatunga when he holds fort on Murali’s action :).


  2. Once entrenched in Dubai it’s more likely he’ll be dictating HIS agenda to CA and the ECB and convincing them at the same time that it was their idea in the first place!

    Hopefully, Murali will have retired before he has any real power. If not, things could turn ugly far quicker than anticipated.

  3. “Once entrenched in Dubai it’s more likely he’ll be dictating HIS agenda to CA and the ECB and convincing them at the same time that it was their idea in the first place!” – lol :)

  4. I think he’ll be frustrated – the ICC is weak compared to the Boards. Will he steer cricket from ODIs to T20s as the pre-eminent form of the one day game?

    • The TV rights for the 2015 World Cup have already been sold and India are desperate to win it so I expect ODIs to be relevant for some time to come.

  5. Aamer and Asif look unplayable just now.

    • Asif looks a tad less difficult to keep out. Aamer is swinging it so late that he looks as though he could get a wicket every ball. Thankfully he is only allowed 10 overs!

      • wouldn’t the ‘extra over (or 2) per wicket’ theory be interesting right now

        • What theory is that Peter? With 120 at a run a ball to get, three wickets down and Aamer with five more to bowl it’s already pretty interesting!

          • I’ve heardof a theory that a bowler should be rewared with a bonus 1 or 2 overs for each wicket they take. This could allow teams to bowl more overs by their quality bowlers instead of those dull middle period medium pacers and nude spinners. It would interesting way to spice up ODI cricket.

  6. I accept some of the positive aspects to a Howard appointment you mention Nesta, such as his political and administrative skills and his respect for tradition, however I couldn’t think of anything more unpleasant than have that person back in the public view. This is the worst cricket news I’ve heard since Bradman retired. Although the BCCI needs to be taken down a peg, there’s got to be a better way to do it. His vision for Australia was so limited, I’d hate to see him get his hands on the game of cricket. I’d be lobbying for any candidate the Kiwis come up with.

    • Fred, I’m not a Howard supporter in any shape or form but I’ve learned not to underestimate him. If he gets the job, and I expect he will or he wouldn’t have accepted the offer, you can bet he won’t be sitting in his office enjoying the fruits of semi-retirement.

      He has no need for money or prestige but he does desperately crave power. He’ll do whatever it takes to consolidate it and in doing so he could conceivably give the ICC some teeth.

      I’m not saying it will be good for the game but I’m willing to reserve judgement and give him something that he gave so few when Prime Minister, the benefit of doubt and a fair go.

      • I know of Howard only in his caricature “Cricket Tragic” incarnation, but it’s interesting that a big political figure is in the frame for the ICC job. There’ll be no “steady as she goes” with him in charge.

        ODIs place in The Game are going to be determined by the World Cup’s format for sure.

    • I agree, Fred, though I think he is more pragmatic than he comes across, but really… go away John. I think it is embarrassing that he is even being suggested.

  7. Nesta I can only stand in awe at the generosity of your spirit, but nonetheless I think we’ve seen enough to rule out any benefit of the doubt regarding the style of this manager. Howard will poison international relations, in what is already a very difficult ex-empire club to manage. I would be grateful of a strong hand in respect to Zimbabwe, but aside from that, no good can come from John Winston H, aside from closer Aus-Eng ties, and that’s hardly a priority.
    I’ve always felt Australia had reasonable grounds for defense against all the various criticisms thrown at it over the last decade, I think the team does actually live up to that cliche of “hard but fair”, and doesn’t transgress more than any other team (did you see how often Yousuf was in the face of the umpire for any not-out on Friday?) but if Howard becomes our man abroad, I’ll have to forfeit whatever moral standing we have.
    God I hope the Kiwis stand up on this one.
    Good game from Aus on Friday, very mature. Playing like a team that knows how to win.

    • Of course, your right in your assumptions Fred. Howard has proved himself a complete bastard time and time again. I guess I’m just hoping he’d ask himself before making a decision,”What would The Don do?” rather than, “What would Menzies do?”

      • Wasn’t Menzies a great cricket lover as well? I vaguely remember something about he and Fingleton being quite close after the latter became a political journo after his cricket career.

        • Menzies definitely enjoyed cricket. I think it was he who invented the Prime Minister’s XI match in Canberra. If memory serves me correctly, Bob Hawke resurrected the fixture when he was PM and it has endured ever since.

          Saw Rudd at the Hobart Test and it’s just an impression but I don’t think he was there for the cricket!

  8. And speaking of moral standards in the game, lets not forget that Afridi, this wonderful exciting player that everyone loves, was the same guy who, when a gas canister exploded like a bomb in a game against England a couple of years ago, used the moment while everyone was distracted and he thought no-one was watching, to dig up the pitch with his studs. Not walking is one thing, but that’s another level of cynicism.

  9. I saw Howard at the ’93 Lord’s Ashes test.

    This was when he was in the political wilderness, waiting with Lazarus for the triple bypass.

    I was in the stand at deep backward square (bowler at Pavillion end) and he and Janette sat down several rows in front of me. I shouted out “Hey Johnny” just as he was about to sit down and he stood back up, turned, smiled, laughed inanely and waved in my general direction. Then he sat back down again and that was it.

    I sometimes wonder whether this recognition, far from home and at a particularly low point in his political career, had somehow boosted his confidence and ultimately lead to his re-emergence in the halls of power just a few years later.

    Was it all my doing?

    • So it’s all your fault Lev! Your Redbacks weren’t quite good enough last night but you got to give the Vics credit. They have this T20 caper down to a science.

      • Just as a butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazon rainforest, a yobbo calls out “hey Johnny”…

        Ah the Redbacks, that was disappointing I must say. It reminded me of interstate footy in the 70’s when there would be this big build up of hope on the South Australian side of things only to be dashed on the day by Big V superiority all over Adelaide Oval.

        The Vics have T20 down to a fine art and plenty of depth to boot. Still SA gets a trip to the Champions league.

  10. Levremance, great, I’ll hold you responsible then for the fracturing of the ICC that will result if he gets the job. If only you’d gone off to top up your beer at that point, instead of throwing a lifeline.

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