SYDNEY: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Friday she will support her predecessor John Howard in his bid to become vice president of the International Cricket Council.
Howard's nomination was rejected Wednesday at an ICC executive board meeting in Singapore, where up to six of the 10 full members of the sport's world governing body signed a letter opposing him as the next ICC vice president.
Howard has indicated he will not withdraw his nomination for the vice presidency, which would lead to the presidency of the ICC within two years.
"John Howard, passionate, passionate cricket fan. I share some of the concerns he's voiced publicly about the kind of factors that are influencing this decision," Gillard said in a radio interview.
"I'd be very happy to offer full support for John Howard to get this role."
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key earlier described the rejection of Howard's nomination as a "shocking decision".
Key said in a radio interview that Howard would be a "fantastic" leader of world cricket and urged him to stand again.
"I think it's a shocking decision," Key told Radio Sport.
"I saw John on TV saying he's going to hold his ground and I think he should. He really could do the job and he could eat it up for breakfast.
"He would be fantastic. I know John well, I met him on numerous occasions when I was leader of the opposition and as prime minister. I think he's been a tremendous leader of Australia, a great politician. He's a great administrator and he loves his cricket ... even if he can't bowl very well from what I've seen on TV."
New Zealand Cricket initially sought to have its former chairman Sir John Anderson chosen as the vice-presidential nominee but later bowed to Australia's push for Howard.
Anderson has been suggested as a compromise candidate who might be more acceptable than Howard to the powerful Asia-Africa bloc, but NZC chief executive Justin Vaughan said Friday he doubted Anderson would now be interested.
"He is a busy man," Vaughan said.
"The ICC president's role takes a lot of time if you want to do it well. The other point is the events of the last week have probably made the ICC not quite as attractive a proposition to people as it was.
"I imagine there would be a bit of hesitancy from anyone to put their name forward because you never know if it is going to be torpedoed. We need a bit more clarity from the ICC as to why John Howard was unsuitable and rejected." - AP
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