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    Speed backs Howard for ICC presidency

    Malcolm Speed has backed ex-Australian PM John Howard as the world body\'s next president-elect.

    Melbourne: Former International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Malcolm Speed has backed ex-Australian Prime Minister John Howard as the world body's next president-elect and believes he will win the crucial support of India in the annual meeting in Singapore later this month.

    Sacked by the ICC two years ago for attempting to bring Zimbabwe to account over its damning finances, Speed called the opposition from Zimbabwe and South Africa to former Australian Prime Minister's nomination as "outrageous".

    "There is some irony in this," Speed was quoted as saying in The Australian.

    "Zimbabwe throughout has said 'you must come and play against us for the sake of our cricket. You can't have politics in cricket, you can't make political considerations', and the ICC has consistently endorsed that position.

    "Their position now, as I understand it, is that Howard's not qualified because he's a politician and he's criticised Zimbabwe, so they bring politics back into it when it suits them. I think the behaviour of Zimbabwe, and South Africa supporting them, has been outrageous.

    "They agreed to the process. They knew it was to be Australia and New Zealand's decision and they should have been prepared to accept that position and not second-guess those countries.

    "The process should have been followed."

    Howard's nomination received a significant boost last Friday when current vice-president, Sharad Pawar, an Indian government minister, offered his full support. However, Pawar does not have a vote on the ICC board.

    "Sharad Pawar is a very sensible, experienced man who I think has now got a good grip of cricket administration and politics," Speed said.

    "He's the incoming president and he still has a lot of influence in India so from afar I'm hopeful the process is followed and that Australia and New Zealand's recommendation is accepted."