By Panganai Nzira
The snub by the International Cricket Council members to support the candidature of former Australian Prime Minister, John Howard’s bid to lead world cricket should be viewed with vigilance, as it exhibits an opaque yet oblique battle in the governance and politics of cricket.
That the vote should have been a formality because under the ICC’s rotation policy, it was Australia and New Zealandâ€™s turn to nominate the next president and the two allies forwarded Howardâ€™s name is ironic and deserves serious cross-examination.
Thus, according to the book and the rules, the candidature of Howard should have sailed through and all he needed was a vote of confidence to boost the task that lies ahead and solicit for mutual reciprocation among the member states.
However, the members would have none of that as they played cricket and bowled him out in unfashionable style that left even Howard upset and angry.
He was thrown out after a revolt by Asian and African nations.
The snub should not just be seen as a vote of no confidence, but should be viewed as part of a re-awakening of states to assert their rights and choices and say a big NO to the one world government ideology, as epitomized by the global capitalist appendage and proxy in cricket governance.
Australia has maintained a stranglehold alongside sister country, England on the throne of world cricket making the rules wily nilly and dictating the pace of reform albeit at times using unthordox tactics.
It is important to understand the matrix of the governance of cricket.
The game is played across the world, but at the highest level, there are ten leading teams consists of England, where the game was invented dating as far back as 1550, and countries with which it has a long, close historical association, Australia, New Zealand and seven former British colonies from the developing world (including South Africa, India, Pakistan and Zimbabwe).
Cricket has been different from other sports in that it has retained its ancient stature and character, despite the threats paused by the 21st century forces.Â
Matches between nations known as “testsâ€ are still played over five full days with equally generous breaks for “lunch” and “tea” in the afternoon. The positions on the cricket field still use singular terms such as “short-leg” and “silly-point”.
This is credited to a body called the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) that makes the game’s laws since its founding in 1787 in London. Until 1964, England and Australia alternately shared cricket’s top spot. But since then England’s form has declined, and other teams have improved, notably the West Indies, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and others.
The Marylebone Cricket Club sees itself as the guardian of what it calls “the spirit of cricket”. Seven of the world’s top-ten teams may be from developing countries, but the MCC and its key committees are chaired by people from one country – England.
How cricket is played in England and Australia also dominates the MCC’s coaching manuals, and activities that have a knowledge component.
Thus with the snub on Howard by other cricket playing nations notably from Asia and Africa a new dawn is rising on the balance of power as the developing nations move towards defining and shaping the regulations of the game.
It is interesting that while the MCC sets the rules, it does not enforce them. The International Cricket Council (ICC) acts as the executive and judiciary branch with aÂ responsibility for the game’s umpires and referees, handling misconduct allegations, as well as training, development, sponsorship and negotiating TV rights. Unlike the MCC, The council is governed by representatives of different cricket-playing nations.
The cricket governing bodies of Asia and Africa have been involved in cold wars to the break symbolic dominance of England over ICC affairs.
At perusal of objections by the majority of ICC countries will show that Howardâ€™s ambitions could have only succeeded in the utopian world as the South Africans stood their guns saying he supported the racist apartheid regime and opposed Nelson Mandela in the 1980s; in Sri Lanka because he called Muttiah Muralitharan a chucker; in India, he’s viewed as a man with racist inclinations; in Pakistan, as a warmonger.” In Zimbabwe he is viewed as an unrepentant structure of exiled Rhodesian supremacists.
Zimbabweans will never forgive Howard. Some might forgive because of our nature of being more inclined to Christian virtues of love and forgiveness, but they will never forget that Howard as the prime minister of Australia led an unholy crusade to manhandle and castrate the economy of Zimbabwe through the evil sanctions against innocent citizens.
That John Howard visited Zimbabwe, a country he labeled unsafe and even likened to a warzone was indeed in itself an exhibition of intellectual deficiency and banal hypocrisy on this “cricket tragic”.
But why is Australia such a circus. This is the country in which exiled unrepentant Rhodies have found a purportedly safe haven and they are now using and pushing forward their undergraduate political puppies into power under the regime change card. This is the country which kicked, punched and quenched the rights of the indigenous Aborigines by condemning them to reserves and naked institutionalized racism.
There is an adage that says scratch an Australian and you find a racist. That best summarises the ideology and character of white Australians who have institutionalised racism such that it has become embedded in all facets of life having extreme forms leading to extermination and subjugation of the indigenous people of the aborigine race.
The government of Australia, led by John Howard preceded by Kevin Rudd and now in the hands of one Julia Gillard, has befittingly yet infamously been a vanguard of racial prejudice and bigotry. It thus leads one to conclude that Australia form the frontline of the axis of hypocrisy and duplicity and thumbs up to Asian and African countries for bowling out this â€œcricket tragic”.