Sharad Pawar today took over as the ICC President in the midst of a raging controversy over former Australian Premier John Howard's rejection as Vice President, which prompted former chief executive Malcom Speed to question the Indian minister's credentials as a cricket administrator.
Pawar's rise to the coveted post came on a day when Australian and New Zealand officials reacted angrily to Howard's rejection by the Afro-Asian bloc, raising speculation of a divided house within the ICC.
Speed said if Howard was not good enough then Pawar was hardly an ideal candidate to lead the game's governing body.
"The man who is to be the next ICC president, Sharad Pawar, is the Minister for Agriculture in the Indian government - a serious full-time job, feeding 1.2 billion people. He is a good and fair man but he will be working part-time as ICC president and, take it from me, he knows little about cricket administration," Speed said.
Pawar, however, sought to downplay the snub to Howard saying there was no political connotation to the issue.
Addressing his first press conference as the President, Pawar said the move had nothing to do with politics and Howard's policies on Africa, in particular towards Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.
"What is the political connotation? There is no question of political connotation," the 69-year-old Pawar, second Indian after Jagmohan Dalmiya to occupy the top post, 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.
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 7 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.
Sharad Pawar Takes Over as ICC President
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