Singapore: Barely a few hours after taking over as ICC President, Sharad Pawar on Thursday sought to downplay the controversial rejection of former Australian Premier John Howard as a Vice President candidate, saying there was no political connotation to the issue.
Addressing his first press conference as the top official of the game’s governing body, Pawar said they have asked Australian and New Zealand Boards to find another candidate and submit it to the ICC by August 31.
The 69-year-old Pawar, the second Indian after Jagmohan Dalmiya to occupy the top post, said the rejection of Howard had nothing to do with politics and his policies on Africa, in particular towards Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.
“What is the political connotation? There is no question of political connotation,” Pawar said.
ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat, who was also present at the press conference, said that the game’s governing body was not obliged to explain why Howard’s bid failed.
“The ICC does not have give those reasons. There weren’t sufficient number of directors in support of the nomination, (it) did not go to a vote and the outcome was to request Cricket Australia and New Zealand Cricket to reconsider their nomination,” Lorgat said.
Lorgat refused to be drawn into a debate on how the ICC would react if Cricket Australia and Cricket New Zealand re-nominated Howard.
“I think that’s speculative and we must wait for 31st August and see what comes forward,” he said.
Pawar said, “We (will) wait for their recommendation.”
If Howard’s nomination had gone through, he would have become ICC vice-president for two years and then take the top post from Pawar in 2012.
The Asian and African nations united to reject his nomination as Howard failed to get the required seven votes.
Only England, Australia and New Zealand supported his candidature thus forcing ICC to withdraw his nomination.
Pawar, also a former BCCI chief, said ICC would try to encourage the resumption of Indo-Pak bilateral series if there is government clearance from both sides.
“Recent Foreign secretary and Home Minister’s visit to Pakistan is a welcome sign. If India and Pakistan start playing and it influences the bilateral relations of the two countries and also if both the governments permit, we will be happy to encourage,” he said.
“ICC wants India and Pakistan to continue their bilateral series. But ICC had not taken the initiative to stop that. It was because of some unforseen circumstances that both the countries had decided to stop it. But now that the process to improve relations between the countries is on, it will give some dividends to cricket too,” Pawar added.
The cricketing ties between India and Pakistan were stalled after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack in 2008.
Pawar, who is also a serving union minister in the Indian government, replaced Englishman David Morgan and lauded his predecessor’s “impressive innings” during the last two years.
“David Morgan has set the principles by which the ICC operates and now it is our responsibility to build on his legacy,” he said.
Morgan, in turn, hoped Pawar, who has served as his ICC vice-President since 2008, would have a successful stint.
“In the past few days many people have thanked me for my contribution to cricket. All I would say is that cricket has been kind to me it has given me much more than I have given back,” he said.
Meanwhile, ICC said that it plans to implement an umpire decision review system at next year’s World Cup, to be held in Indian sub-continent, to minimise the refereeing errors.
“We’ve just seen in another World Cup (FIFA) that is going on what happens when match officials get the decisions wrong. It can have a significant impact on the outcome of a game.
“We’re very keen to use the decision review system at the upcoming World Cup. There are a few issues around cost and the availability of technology that we still must work hard at overcoming,” Lorgat said.