In some minds the absurd black-balling of John Howard as ICC vice-president was decided by his tragic spell of bowling on a dusty plateau deep in the Pakistan mountains in 2005.

More likely it was a product of the former Prime Minister’s 2003 opposition, entirely principled and warranted, to World Cup games being played in anti-democratic Zimbabwe.

But Howard has gained the reputation of a klutz with the ball and the International Cricket Council could not have a leader who didn’t have a talented arm. Howard, one commentator has said, is a pie chucker.

He’s no Tiger O’Reilly, but he’s not pie-chucker class, either.  It’s time for the full story of what happened on that plateau and how Howard got his bad reputation at the crease.

In late November, 2005, John Howard flew by helicopter into the Neelam Valley of Pakistan to see the damage caused by an earthquake which sliced the sides off huge mountains and killed from 70,000 to 80,000.

He also wanted to visit 86 Australian soldiers who had been running a medical unit in the middle of the devastation, treating some of the thousands of locals who had slowly sought help over the previous six weeks.

The base, on a roughly level chunk of rock 1200m above sea level, was named Camp Bradman - at the insistence of a Pakistan military unit working with the Australians.

That should have warned Howard what was to come from the cricket-mad Pakistanis, even in the middle of an earthquake zone.

As he inspected the camp he notices there were two flat areas. One was used to land choppers. The other was strangely bare, given the space shortage, apart from two sets of stumps.

He also noted the extraordinary sight of a dozen or so young men and boys lining up obediently.

He couldn’t miss them. They all were wearing bright red Lynyrd Skynyrd tour t-shirts with the slogan, ``Support Southern Rock’‘.

How a batch of t-shirts dedicated to a Florida-born rock band - which effectively broke up after a 1977 plane crash and had never been anywhere near Pakistan—ended up in the Neelam Valley was never explained.

But what was clear was these boys considered themselves a cricket team, and they were here to play.

Another visiting head of government might have walked away to discuss matters of high importance. Howard showed he was a good sport, and accepted the invitation to send a few down

``I knew I could not get out of it,’’ Mr Howard later recounted.

To say he was handed a ball would be to use a broad and generous definition of ``spherical’‘. It was a home-made mix of tape and irregular stuffing.

It was more like a cloth bag filled with rocks than a Kookaburra six-stitcher. And the pitch looked like it had been prepared for seeding.

Howard’s efforts often failed to reach the other crease and some departed their line at right-angles mid-wicket.

But Shane Warne would have had trouble shattering the stumps of the Lynyrd Skynyrd batsmen with that pill. Any backyard bowler like Howard didn’t have a chance.

So began his reputation as a pie chucker. And with it, the suggestion he bowled his way out of the ICC job.

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    • CB says:

      06:52am | 02/07/10

      Come on Malcolm, stop trying to defend the indefensible.  The only thing more shameful to Australians than that total ‘unco’ display from Howard in Pakistan is his record of dog whistle race-based politics over his entire career (and his appalling record on sport funding). Karma came back to bite him on the ass and Cricket Australia ought to be ashamed of themselves. At least Albo can be proud of his efforts to kill off any NRL ambitions Howard had to chair the working man’s game!

    • acker says:

      10:05am | 02/07/10

      The Indian media is openly trashing Australia any way they can at any opportunity..this is just another smokescreen anti-Australian hysterical attack by the Indians..I think we are heading towards a trade embargo with them. Make them pay through the neck for their resources

    • The Redman says:

      11:36am | 02/07/10

      Well, perhaps if an Australian citizen was arrested, charged with acts of terrorism, acquitted by the Court, had their visa revoked in any case and was deported from the country when he had been prounounced innocent, Australian citizen’s might view that country with less than affection.

    • The Redman says:

      11:37am | 02/07/10

      Well, perhaps if an Australian citizen was arrested, charged with acts of terrorism, acquitted by the Court, had their visa revoked in any case and was deported from the country when he had been prounounced innocent, Australian citizen’s might view that country with less than affection.

    • acker says:

      01:23pm | 02/07/10

      @Redman..Did the Australian media trash Haneef ? ..please don’t let your ambition to score a point for India at the expence of Australia in this argument cloud any sense of rationality. pfft !

    • The Redman says:

      01:53pm | 02/07/10

      Acker, yes the media villified the man. But they didn’t arrest him, they didn’t charge him with acts of terrorism, they didn’t conceal, alter and obfuscate documents, they didn’t prosecute and slander an innocent man, they didn’t take away his passport even though he was completely exonerated and they didn’t deport the man despite his absolute innocence.

      The media also uncovered the disgrace that this was. And yet Howard Government members, and Howard himself, continue to insist that they did nothing wrong and were perfectly within their rights, when it is clearly a case of lies, scarmongering and political corruption. And you wonder why we are not on India’s Christmas Card list? How would you view a country that treated an Australian citizen in this way?

    • pffft says:

      02:15pm | 02/07/10

      @ acker -  “Did the Australian media trash Haneef ? ”

      well, yes they did, ( google is your friend ) along with the police and politicians. thats why hes suing and why he will win compensation - for having his reputation trashed, and generally not being given whats commonly known as a fair go.

    • T.Chong says:

      07:49am | 02/07/10

      Mr Farr, what a load of bullocks.!!!!  Howard,  despite claims made by his apologists, would appear to be reviled by many, most notably for his lavish willingness in wanting to be seen as GWs little sherriff, in all matters of american adventurism.
      Maybe the ICC has decided who will lead it, and under what manner its leader will be chosen.
      Little Johnny shouldnt have any problem with that concept.

    • Wayne Fehlhaber says:

      09:07am | 02/07/10

      T. Chong :  Sad to think that politics gets taken into sports adiministration to the extent of denigrating an individual who has a love of cricket and the best interest of the sport in the international arena.
      The matter is not yet resolved and it is likely that the self proclaimed Marxist , Robert Mugabe will be under pressure in his resistance to John Howard’s nomination on political grounds.
      It is amazing that some people become a willing tool after brainwash therapy dreamed up in Labor’s propaganda section.

    • MarK says:

      09:11am | 02/07/10

      Good on yah Chongy.

      Stand up for the rights of Mugabe over JH.

      You hatred makes you blind.

      I really do feel sorry for you.

    • T.Chong says:

      10:11am | 02/07/10

      Wayne, Mark, point out the part where i wrote anything about supprtting Mugabe.
      No , no more blinded by partisanship than anyone else is at this site.
      Agree to disagree. Thats what this place is all about.
      Stay cool dudes.

    • Steve says:

      08:04am | 02/07/10

      Well unlike the fictional account of Rudd’s electrical appliance rage, there is video footage of Howards lack of talent so punters can make up their own mind.

    • biff says:

      08:24am | 02/07/10

      I’m one of the many fine batsmen able to read Howard’s arm ball. That and that alone makes him unfit to be VP of the ICC.

    • Mark Broomhall says:

      08:29am | 02/07/10

      Lets Face it , Jonny H is a biggot , he can hardly stand to shake hands with anyone thats not a W.A.S.P. let alone have to sit on a board with them unless he is exaulted in some shape or form , he can never have the position he wants on the ICB while there are any free thinking members , plus he can’t bowl

    • Wayne Fehlhaber says:

      08:50am | 02/07/10

      Details of Gillard’s backflip have just been announced . The profits based tax has been abandoned and replaced with a 30% resourses rent tax . The backdown in the rate of tax has resulted in Company Tax being reduced by 1% instead of the 2% originally planned . The reduction in company tax will not be effective until 2013.
      This amazing backflip would make a seal look quite ordinary , and the electorate will not miss one aspect of Gillard’s backdown , in the face of a united effort from those who seek investment in our nation for a fair return.

    • Rob r Charteris says:

      09:49am | 02/07/10

      Wayne Fehlhaber says:08:50am; You would know what a backflip is if it hit you on the nose. Please stay on topic. Howard was not fit and proper for the job, even New Zealand didn’t want to back him

    • Robert Smissen Rural SA says:

      11:32pm | 04/07/10

      Are you sure he’s not responsible for global warminig too

    • J says:

      09:00am | 02/07/10

      It would appear that on the video, the Pakistani who sent down a few deliveries to Jonny managed to get them on track and with a bit of a bounce too, I might add!

    • Richard Ryan says:

      10:10am | 02/07/10

      When Mr. Howard was Opposition leader during the 1980s he opposed not only economic sanctions against South Africa but also sporting boycotts.  Mr,  Howard’s actions during the evil, ruthless and corrupt apartheid era gave little comfort to Africans who suffered under that system.

    • Ryan says:

      11:02am | 02/07/10

      Yes yes, lets accuse Howard of plotting Apartheid, hell he was also responsible for putting Hitler into power, Stalin, Mugabe.. Howard must be the original white devil..

    • The Redman says:

      11:40am | 02/07/10

      Your post, Ryan, is pointless. Richard is quite correct, and in fact Howard’s objection to boycotts against South Africa during the Apartheid years was a major point of dissention between he and Malcolm Fraser. There is no mystery as to why African and Asian countries rejected Howard. He has a pedigree on supporting white minority regimes and has absolutely no background in cricket besides watching it.

    • Red Baron says:

      02:03pm | 02/07/10

      Did Ryan know Howard’s idol Menzies was a fan of Hitler in 1938???

    • The Redman says:

      02:59pm | 02/07/10

      And of Japan, Red Baron. He probably doesn’t remember the epiphet Pig Iron Bog. And who stopped the shipping of military grade steel to the Japanese Empire prior to World War II? The manufacturers? The business owners? The Government? Mass demonstrations? No. The unions, that’s who.

    • The Redman says:

      03:04pm | 02/07/10

      Sorry, I meant Pig Iron Bob, but the typo is actually quite funny!!

    • Bob says:

      07:51pm | 02/07/10

      You mean those wharfies that had strikes in WW1 and WW2?

    • Northern Steve says:

      08:14pm | 02/07/10

      Redman, the dock workers/unions were also busy taking off with important military supplies meant for our soldiers during WW2.  They nicked anything not tied down.  You can hardly claim the high moral ground for that pack of thieves.

    • LFG says:

      10:21am | 02/07/10

      Howard was knocked back by black racists who hate white people.

    • The Redman says:

      12:28pm | 02/07/10

      Yeah, and we whitey’s have given them soooo many reasons to love us!!

    • Dan says:

      01:22am | 04/07/10

      Turn-about is fair play redman? What about when turn-about occours again and then again and again and again?

      Good plan Redman

    • miketron says:

      10:32am | 02/07/10

      I think we should see if the Asian and African nations would like us to put Pauline Hanson up for nomination. Chances are that Howard will just adopt her policies anyway if he’s elected…

    • James says:

      10:39am | 02/07/10

      Come on Mal!

      “To say he was handed a ball would be to use a broad and generous definition of ``spherical’‘. It was a home-made mix of tape and irregular stuffing.” Seriously Mal?

      I laugh every single time I watch that video, there was absolutely nothing wrong with that ball. Even though Johnny slammed it straight into the dirt it still managed to kick up a few bounces. The young Pakastani chap managed to bowl a nice mid pacer that appears to bounce true. Johnny is just totally unco! Even his shot with the bat was dreadful.

      Even if the ball was defective…like any good cricket mad Aussie, in the boot of the car you have a bat, a slightly battered kookaburra and at least a few tennis balls. I’m sure little Unco-Johnny could have squeezed a few of these items into the chartered jet wink

    • TC says:

      12:28pm | 03/07/10

      Yeah right.
      How unusual. A 16 year old more athletic than a 70 year old

    • third umpire says:

      10:54am | 02/07/10

      If you seriously believe, ( and expect us to believe ) that he wasnt given a bat by the ICC because he is simply a cricket tragic. Then may i superficially suggest you take your ball and go home.

      howard was, and is, a shame and embarrassment for australia, least of all because of his inability to look even slightly coordinated when doing anything as simple as merely going for a walk.

    • alan says:

      10:54am | 02/07/10

      this not all about cricket,its about the race thing in melbourne,IF THEY DONT LIKE GO HOME,,they the indians have made their play and really come out of the wood work now like WORMS THEY ARE,we australians can do alot more with etc food stuffs that they want..
      we have the wheat,barley, oats, and all the raw materials,
      they are very very poor,only a few are RICH.
      one other thing the indian cricketer was a chucker for sure.

    • The Redman says:

      11:43am | 02/07/10

      “one other thing the indian cricketer was a chucker for sure.”

      For a start, if you’re referring to the off spinner Muralidaran, he’s Sri Lankan, not Indian.

      Secondly, if you are seriously suggesting that Australia should withdraw all aid and allow people to die of starvation over a perceived slight involving a sport, you need serious help. Howard was clearly the wrong candidate, and CA new months ago that it would never be supported.

    • The Redman says:

      12:27pm | 02/07/10

      Sorry about the typo. Knew, of course, not new.

    • The Redman says:

      12:30pm | 02/07/10

      Re-reading this post, I’ve two things to say. Should this have been published? I’ve realised he as described Indian’s as worms. Surely this is blanted and offensive racism which should never have seen the light of day. Secondly, I was lead to understand that capitalisation in posts, indicating shoulting and yelling, is not tolerated on this site.

    • led to believe ;) says:

      01:13pm | 02/07/10

      @ redman, i think its a fine thing for thepunch to publish alans comments, why should the moderators be the only ones allowed to see for themselves, what a shallow, hateful, uneducated, sub-human worm, alan really is smile

    • Julie Coker-Godson says:

      01:47pm | 02/07/10

      @The Redman:  Is it Muralitharan? (spelling).

    • The Redman says:

      01:56pm | 02/07/10

      I do believe you’re right, led to believe!!  I stand corrected. Blog on, alan!! You’re a great advertisement for our conservative friends!! smile

    • The Redman says:

      02:00pm | 02/07/10

      Julie, this has baffled many a cricket lover. When he first toured, his shirts show your spelling. After a few years, as I understand, he made it known that he preferred the spelling I have used. It’s spelt your way on cricinfo, but if you look on his own website, it’s spelt both ways!!

    • n_dude says:

      06:54pm | 05/07/10

      THis is a stupid post and makes no sense at all. India is actually self sufficient in it’s own production of food, so I doubt they would starve if Australia decided to stop exporting food items. In terms of other commodities, they have an insatiable demand and can go elsewhere to get it.

    • Krista says:

      10:57am | 02/07/10

      Thank God Howard is the ICC’S problem and not ours. His racist views have shot him in the foot. I hear Pauling Hanson is backing Abbott.. Birds of a feather

    • Jannette H of Wollstoncraft says:

      11:50am | 02/07/10

      John H is tops in my book!

    • AFR says:

      12:25pm | 02/07/10

      If only you can spell Wollstonecraft

    • Cornelius Cupcake says:

      12:09pm | 02/07/10

      What I find really strange is that the left loves calling Howard a racist bigot and yet he actually ramped up immigration from Asia, the Middle East and Africa to levels never seen before in this country - giving Australia a population growth rate eight times the average of industrialised countries in the OECD.

      He also created an immigration pathway that pratically guaranteed permenent residency to anyone on a student visa (90% of whom were Asian) - even to those doing the most trivial courses such a cooking or hairdressing.  Doesn’t sound like the actions of a racist to me. A curious apparent contradiction betwen the rhetoric of the left and the actual policies Howard presided over. But as they say, never let the facts get in the way..

    • stephen says:

      01:38pm | 02/07/10

      Yer right Corn. Cup.  His biggest error was Workchoices ; nothin to do with Cricket. He likes the game, he’s honest, and that he can’t play cricket is probably to his advantage if he is to administrate. The others are scared cause the admin. is corrupt ( Indian illegal gambling rings rockin up to Sth Africa’s big games is a big giveaway), and that an ex-PM may have to disperse such business is, well, bad fer business.

    • AFR says:

      12:32pm | 02/07/10

      My understanding when this issue first came up months ago was that he was nowhere near as qualified as the Kiwi guy. How does being a PM and “cricket tragic” qualify you for the job of international cricket administration?

    • AFR says:

      03:32pm | 02/07/10

      Sir John Anderson - former NZ cricket chaiman and much more qualified than Howard. In fact, there is talk of Howard being replaced by Anderson as our nominee.

    • Daphne C says:

      12:47pm | 02/07/10

      Poor Mal Farr. Having scratched and clucked outside Little Lachie Harris’ door for his daily feed of chook pellets for the past two and a bit years, now that Lachie’s master has been given the bolt to the head, Mal reverts to what he knows best - mindlessly sliming John Howard. If long gone former PMs are Mal’s stock in trade these days, why not a bitchy little swipe at Paul Keating’s current inability to get his development of Barrangaroo up and running? My guess would be that if he did, Keating would chew Mal up and have him reduced to a sniveling, blubbering mess that would eclipse anything Kevin
      Rudd could dish up. Come on Mal. Show us how brave you are!

    • Uncle Buck says:

      01:35pm | 02/07/10

      Hey Malcolm, nice article, but I reckon you should have let this one through to the Keeper old mate! smile

    • Al says:

      01:54pm | 02/07/10

      I had to chuckle when I heard Howard saying that he is not withdrawing his candidacy…. I will fight on.  The leopard hasn’t changed his spots.

    • Bela says:

      02:13pm | 02/07/10

      I don’t imagine Zimbabwe was a big factor, but if it was, there would have been others as well.

      For such an astute politician, Howard would be the last person to realise that Pauline Hanson would cast such a long shadow, despite all the warnings about the damage she was doing to our international reputation back in the 1990s. Race was a total blind spot for him.

      He was on the wrong side of every race issue for 30 years, including apartheid, native title, Asian immigration (until recently) and Cronulla. To think this would not be a factor in seeking endorsement from people from the Asian subcontinent and Africa, is either wilfully arrogant or mind-bogglingly naive on his part.

      He might have done a good job at the ICC, but so what? How many public service heads did he fire on day 1 of his prime ministership, not because they were incompetent, but just because they’d been appointed by the Labor party? Answer - pretty much all of them.

    • The Redman says:

      02:28pm | 02/07/10

      Could not have put this better or more succinctly myself. Well, I probably could have, but I won’t bother trying!!! LOL smile (I might have had a problem with the succinct bit, admittedly!!)

    • Cornelius Cupcake says:

      02:32pm | 02/07/10

      Well Bella, I guess the current PM can’t be very “astute” either as she has gone in to bat for him as well.

      “I’d be very happy to offer full support for John Howard to get this role.” - J.Gillard. P.M.

      As for criticism of Australia’s record on race record from those paragons of virtue on the “Asian subcontinent and Africa” there is a saying about glass houses and stones.

    • jason says:

      02:36pm | 02/07/10

      racism toward’s a white person thats all it is.but that never seems to be reported or admitted that this happens,and it does just as much.racism will never stop until all parties admitt it & stop it.that includes racism towards white people.

    • stumped says:

      02:57pm | 02/07/10

      well…while i agree, racism can be a part of anyones mackup, regardless of colour,  im white and i dont want howard having to do anything to do with cricket. so what does that mean? im a white hating white? :D

    • The Redman says:

      03:01pm | 02/07/10

      No it is not racism. It is a reflection of the opinion of Howard’s beliefs by certain countries, coupled with the fact that he has no experience in, nor expertise of, the game of cricket at any level.

    • Cornelius Cupcake says:

      03:01pm | 02/07/10

      Stumped, yes probably. It’s called “self loathing”. look it up.

    • Daniel says:

      06:33pm | 02/07/10

      Malcolm the guy got kicked out of his own area in Bennelong. Why would anyone in Cricket want him running their organization? He really has a hide this guy.

    • Jon Mayberry says:

      09:15pm | 02/07/10

      From the perspective of an Englishman, Howard is an embarrassment to all sports and should not be allowed into any stadium let alone on a governing board. Bugger off back to politics, you sad little man!

    • DD Ball says:

      10:29pm | 02/07/10

      If Gillard were going for something like this she would have conservative support. Somehow, I feel the failure is less to do with Zimbabwe and more to do with a belligerent ALP using their political links with Zimbabwe to get this nuked. Mr Howard is a clean skin and the ICC is a politicized body that seems to be trout deep in a trough of corruption.

    • Chris L says:

      01:52pm | 03/07/10

      “If Gillard were going for something like this she would have conservative support”


    • john says:

      11:58am | 04/07/10

      hey johnny

      the ICC will decide who will be the next vice president and the manner in which they will be elected.


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