| GEO Sports|
| ICC asks Australia to drop Howard as candidate|
| Updated at: 2003 PST, Thursday, July 01, 2010|
SINGAPORE: The International Cricket Council Thursday urged Australia to find another candidate for its presidency, as former premier John Howard vowed to fight on after his bid to lead the sport was rejected.
The ICC threw out the conservative former prime minister's candidacy during a meeting in Singapore on Wednesday, prompting a furious response in Australia, where former ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed called it a "disgrace".
Haroon Lorgat, the ICC's current chief executive, said Thursday the body was not obliged to explain why Howard's bid failed, telling a news conference in Singapore that it "does not have to 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 and to return to the ICC by the 31st of August," Lorgat said.
Lorgat declined to answer directly what the ICC executive board would do if Howard's name was again submitted by cricket authorities in Australia and New Zealand.
"I think that's speculative and we must wait for 31st August and see what comes forward," he said.
New ICC president Sharad Pawar added: "We wait for their recommendation."
Pawar, an Indian government minister and former Indian cricket board chief, took over as president on Thursday after serving as vice-president for two years.
Howard would have taken on the ICC vice-presidency before assuming full leadership in mid-2012 under a system that rotates the job between cricket's regional blocs.
Opposition from Asian and African nations sealed the fate of Howard, who clashed repeatedly with some of the countries opposed to his ICC bid when he was Australia's premier from 1996 to 2007.
The 70-year-old Howard said he would carry on his efforts to become world cricket president despite his embarrassing rejection.
"I won't be withdrawing," he told Sky News late on Wednesday.
"Even in private discussions they are very reluctant to give a particular reason," he added. "It's a very unusual situation."
Cricket Australia chairman Jack Clarke said he was "gutted" by the decision, adding it "was in the grand final" of ICC slights towards the country.
"(I'm) gutted and incredibly disappointed that a man of John Howard's stature has been knocked off for this job," he said.
Lorgat denied there was a rift between Asian and African Test-playing nations and Australia, New Zealand and England -- the three countries believed to have supported Howard's bid.
Pawar said the rejection of Howard had nothing to do with politics and Howard's policies as premier on Africa, in particular towards President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
"What is the political connotation? There is no question of political connotation," Pawar said.
But the rejection of Howard, known for his tough immigration policies, is believed to stem from his zealous opposition to Mugabe's government including its cricket officials, who were targeted with sanctions.
He also incurred the wrath of the powerful Asian cricket bloc in 2004 by labelling Sri Lankan legend Muttiah Muralitharan a "chucker", or someone with an illegal bowling action.
In 2006, Howard strongly supported Australian umpire Darrell Hair, who outraged Pakistan by halting a Test match and awarding victory to England during a protest over ball-tampering allegations.
Several Test nations also objected to Howard's appointment because he had no experience of cricket administration.
However Speed, whose 2008 departure as ICC chief executive followed a row over Zimbabwe, said Howard was seen as too strong a character for the powerful Asian bloc, headed by India.
"The rejection is a symptom of the wider malaise that afflicts world cricket and its dysfunctional governing body," Speed wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald.