ZIMBABWE is backing interim International Cricket Council (ICC) chairman Imran Khwaja to become the substantive leader of world cricket after the completion of an ongoing electoral process.
Singaporean Khwaja is taking on New Zealand’s Greg Barclay for one of the most powerful posts in global sport governance, with the first round of voting this week ending in a stalemate after none of the two contestants garnered the two-thirds majority required to assume office.
If the third round of voting produces another deadlock, Khwaja, by virtue of being the acting ICC boss, will be confirmed the new substantive chairperson of world cricket’s ruling body.
The winner needs 11 votes to secure a two-thirds majority from the total votes cast by directors sitting on the ICC board, where Test-playing Zimbabwe has a seat.
This could turn out to be a tantalising contest for the leadership of one of the foremost sporting disciplines on the planet.
The Board Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which wields enormous influence in the cricketing world, has not publicly declared its preferred candidate although it is understood to have thrown its weight behind Kiwi Barclay.
Among the 16 voters, India, Australia, England, New Zealand, West Indies, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Ireland and Malaysia are understood to be firmly behind the New Zealander. Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and Singapore have cast their lot with Khwaja while crisis-ridden South Africa seem undecided.
Zimbabwe, meanwhile, have made their position known, with Khwaja the African nation’s unequivocal choice. A Khwaja victory, according to a top source within Zimbabwean cricket, will guarantee the country more game-time and improved financial support from the ICC.
“Look, it’s very simple what we are looking at,” the insider told The NewsHawks this week.
“There are two issues: fairer FTP (Future Tours Programme), and also a fairer financial model. And then also the ICC events. These are the issues that affect us as a country. It’s not only us as the smaller full-member nations, but the Associate members. Whoever stands for those things is likely to get our vote. Whoever promises these things, we are inclined to listen. And that person is Imran.”
The Zimbabwe official was confident of a win for Khwaja, a 64-year-old lawyer and former president of the Singapore Cricket Association.
Although hailing from a minor cricket nation and relatively unknown in the greater cricketing world, Khwaja is an influential figure in ICC corridors.
He heads the Associate member bloc of world cricket and under the previous ICC chairman, India’s Shashank Manohar, Khwaja played a key role in several sweeping reforms that gave some of the smaller nations a big say in the affairs of the game.
Khwaja’s rival, Barclay, is also a lawyer. A former chairperson of New Zealand Cricket, Barclay first joined the ICC board in 2014. He is being supported by most of the top cricket-playing nations led by India, Australia, England and the West Indies.