Friday, July 02, 2010

Howard and the ICC

I have watched the imbroglio over Mr Howard's ICC (International Cricket Council) nomination with a degree of bemusement. I even spent several hours just checking blog and newspaper stories. So far the best summary is from Cricinfo. The comments are worth browsing too.

Leaving aside the substantive issues for a moment, the reactions split along two dimensions. Dimension one are personal reactions to Mr Howard. You can see this in the Australian comments and in the on-line polls. Dimension two links to the apparent fault line in cricket between the "white" and "black" nations.

In all this there is a strong sense of pay-back, pay-back for some of Mr Howard's actions as PM including his statements about Zimbabwe, pay-back for previous English and Australian dominance of the game, pay-back for perceived colonial slights.

Looking at the substantive issues, there appear to be three main ones.

The first is the apparent failure by the Australian cricket authorities to manage the process. There are issues here that I don't understand, including the willingness to press forward in the face of opposition.

The second is the refusal by the opposing countries to give reasons, even to allow Mr Howard to speak. There is an apparent arrogance here. We don't need to explain. Leaving aside questions of courtesy, it is no small thing to over-turn an agreed process. It is also no small thing to leave a former PM of this country standing in the ante-room.

The third is what the affair seems to tell us about the governance of the ICC itself. I don't know enough about the workings of the ICC, but there seems to be something of a smell about the organisation.

Anybody with any knowledge of Australian politics will know that Mr Howard is a fighter. In this case, and for his own sake, he should probably pick up his bat and ball and return to the pavilion. I would have thought that the various divisions that have been revealed make his position untenable. To continue as a candidate risks inflaming the divisions further.

But what, then, do we do about the ICC itself? Regardless of the arguments for and against Mr Howard, there has clearly been a failure in governance, one that has done some damage to cricket. I have no idea what might be done here. I just don't know enough about the actual workings of the ICC.

I do wonder, however, whether the ICC itself can actually survive. 


Rummuser said...

Jim, You have taken a reasonable stance. I do not know much about the workings of the ICC but do know something about the working of the BCCI, the governing body of Indian cricket. It is a strictly commercial operation run by ruthless politico, businessmen combine and skeletons are constantly falling out of its cupboards. None of the office bearers have played cricket at even the levels that I have played, but are in charge of an organization that runs India's obsession. Many of us despair with what is happening to the organization and the latest about Howard, is only the tip of the iceberg. BCCI is sitting on a goldmine and has begun to behave like robber barons. Politicians, in my opinion have no business in such bodies, but what can fans of the game do to prevent such hijackings?

Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, Ramana. I had wondered about the BCCI. Good to get an on-ground comment.

There is a fair bit of coverage in the Australian media suggesting that one of the reasons CA wanted Howard, and conversely one of the reasons that others didn't, is that he had the strength and independence to be an independent chair.