Melbourne:John Howard will win the crucial support of India during the governing body's annual meeting later this month and will become the next president-elect, feels former International Cricket Council (ICC) CEO Malcolm Speed.
Howard, a joint nominee of Australia and New Zealand, to succeed India's Sharad Pawar first as vice-president and then as president was opposed by Zimbabwe and South Africa and later Sri Lanka also joined the resistance.
However, the former Australian Prime Minister's nomination received a boost last Friday when Pawar met with current President David Morgan and offered his support to the nomination process.
"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," he added.
Speed, who was sacked by the ICC two years ago for instituting what became a damning investigation into the Zimbabwe Cricket Union's (ZCU) finances, said the African nation is threatening to split international cricket.
"There is some irony in this," Speed said of Zimbabwe's opposition to Howard.
"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," he added.
Speed said he finds the opposition of Zimbabwe and South Africa to Howard's nomination as outrageous.
"I think the behaviour of Zimbabwe, and South Africa supporting them, has been outrageous," Speed said.
"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," he added.
The 61-year-old also said that the ICC's decision to elect Eshan Mani president in 2003 "makes a nonsense of the claim that Howard's not qualified because he's not a member of the Australian board".
"Mani wasn't a member of the Pakistan board. In fact he lived in England, but he was their nominee and he was a very good president," he said.