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Australia and New Zealand have reconfirmed their support for John Howard, the former Australia prime minister, as the ICC's next vice-president following doubts raised by senior officials over his suitability for the role. The nomination of Howard, who led the country from 1996 to 2007, was expected to be passed by the ICC board in Dubai this week but was deferred without being formally discussed.

It is understood the issue of a politician being appointed instead of a cricket administrator was introduced outside the meeting by South Africa, which has close links with Zimbabwe, and it gained some momentum. Howard was critical of the Zimbabwe regime under Robert Mugabe and banned Australia from touring there in 2007. The process of Howard's selection for the post was also raised, along with his lack of cricket credentials.

However, there was no formal debate, mainly because the meeting was dominated by contingency plans for getting all the teams to the West Indies for the World Twenty20 if the flight ban over Europe continued. The vice-presidency item was deferred until June, when it will be discussed along with the possible move of the ICC headquarters.

Jack Clarke, the Cricket Australia chairman, and his New Zealand counterpart Alan Isaac, have since written a letting outlining their backing for Howard. "Australia and New Zealand have confirmed that our chairmen and boards fully endorse the exhaustive process for the joint nomination and fully support the nomination," a Cricket Australia spokesman told Cricinfo. "That is now understood by all ICC directors."

There is a feeling the issue wouldn't have developed had David Morgan, the ICC president, been at the meeting - he was held up in the United Kingdom because of the flight ban. Under the current regulations, the vice-president is selected by a region, in this case Australasia, and there is no other avenue for the ICC but to accept the nomination.

Howard was recommended for the role by Australia and New Zealand last month following a drawn-out process that included the forming of a committee to break the deadlock over the candidates. New Zealand had originally wanted Sir John Anderson, its long-standing cricket administrator, but eventually supported the findings.

Howard's supporters believe that after running a country he will be more than capable of guiding the ICC. They also point to his long-standing association with the game, which includes stepping in with touring advice for Australia's teams during his time in office, over-seeing the annual Prime Minister's XI fixture and delivering the Bradman Oration.

After serving as vice-president for two years, Howard is due to assume the presidency of the ICC in 2012. He is in line to succeed India's Sharad Pawar, who is also the country's federal agriculture minister.

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