Now, emergency body to decide ICC's Antipodean candidate

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Sydney, Feb.1 (ANI): The search for an ICC Antipodean candidate grows more farcical by the day, according to cricket columnist Peter Roebuck.

The latest development is that Sir Rod Eddington has been asked to preside over an emergency committee formed to resolve the increasingly testy dispute between Australia and New Zealand over the selection of the candidate to act as ICC deputy chairman in July, rising to chairman in 2012.

Under ICC rules, these countries are obliged to agree on a single nomination for the position, and were supposed to produce a candidate months ago. After weeks of discussions, the talks remain deadlocked, says Roebuck.

According to usually reliable sources, Eddington, the former chief executive of British Airways and current chairman of Infrastructure Australia, has agreed to serve as the independent chair of a small group comprising two representatives from each country. In effect, he will decide the occupant of the most prestigious and important office in the game. It is an extraordinary state of affairs. His involvement is merely the latest aberration in an absurd episode, Roebuck adds.

Australia continues to push John Howard's credentials while the Kiwis argue that Sir John Anderson is the right choice. Anderson is a well respected and popular man with a lengthy and distinguished career as a servant of the game. It is difficult to find anyone in cricket with a bad word to say about him. Not that he is a pushover. Among other things, he has served as CEO of ANZ Bank and as chairman of NZ Television and involved himself in wildlife preservation. Oh yes, he has also stood as chairman of NZ Cricket and has represented his country at the ICC for years. It is a formidable CV.

He knows the innards of the game, and could hardly be better qualified for the job. As far as can be told, the only black mark against him is that he comes from the wrong country.

Howard, Roebuck says, has no such cricketing record.

The objections to the former prime minister him are not political. Except that he has more pressing matters in Adelaide, Ian McLachlan, another Liberal, has all the required credentials. He played first-class cricket and has been involved in the game all his life. Contrastingly, Howard lacks cricketing expertise.

"Australia ought to have acknowledged Anderson's qualities and backed him. Instead, it refused to budge and, as a last resort, the countries have now been forced to form an ad hoc committee in an attempt to discover a consensus candidate," Roebuck says, adding that by giving an Australian the casting vote, New Zealand has acted with the generosity missing in its counterpart.

According to Roebuck, Eddington is not a wise choice to sort out the mess.

"His career outside the game suggests that he lacks the judgment and diplomatic skills needed to meet the occasion. At least he is a cricketing man well up in the game and especially fond of watching Test matches. In his youth he played for Oxford University, where he continued his studies after graduating in Perth. A steady left-handed batsman, he was unlucky not to be awarded his blue in 1976, an oversight his captain subsequently regretted," says Roebuck.

Ever since he has steered clear of cricket administration, instead immersing himself in business, where he has been a prominent and controversial figure. His status as a cricketing outsider was part of his attraction.

In every other respect, though, his nomination appears questionable, Roebuck says.

He concludes by saying that New Zealand is entitled to feel flabbergasted by Australia's intransigence, which is well nigh untenable.

Eddington's only option is to back Anderson. (ANI)

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