The ICC is looking at a speedy resolution to the search for its next chief executive officer, with Imtiaz Patel declaring on Sunday that he had withdrawn interest in the position. Its four-man recruitment committee may discuss the issue as early as this week and Cricinfo has learnt that Haroon Lorgat, the former convenor of Cricket South Africa's (CSA) selection committee, has emerged as a strong candidate for the post.
Lorgat has already received a preliminary inquiry for a possible meeting with the ICC this week. "It's very premature to even talk about this subject," Lorgat told Cricinfo. "But obviously if the job is indeed offered to me, I would consider that a great honour."
Incidentally, the other significant candidate in the ICC's shortlist is also a South African - Dave Richardson, the former wicketkeeper, and currently the ICC's general manager, cricket. "In fact, we have been fortunate to have several high-calibre candidates on the shortlist, all of whom bring something slightly different to the table," the ICC president-elect, David Morgan, said.
Lorgat, 47, headed CSA's selection committee for three years till the 2007 World Cup. A qualified chartered accountant - whose roots, like Patel's, are in India - and formerly a senior partner in Ernst & Young, he is currently on the board of Kapela Investments, a private venture he set up last year with five other associates.
The next CEO will be picked by a recruitment committee that includes Morgan, Ray Mali, the ICC president, Sharad Pawar, the BCCI president and Morgan's chosen successor, and Creagh O' Connor, the chairman of Cricket Australia.
"Once the recruitment committee has identified a preferred candidate, it will make a recommendation to the ICC executive board with a view to confirming the appointment at the earliest opportunity," an ICC spokesman said.
The new CEO will take over from Malcolm Speed, who steps down from the position after this year's ICC Annual Conference, which will take place between June 29 and July 4.
Even as the ICC moves to replace Speed, there is also a deep sense of disappointment at Patel's decision - especially after his participation in the recruitment process, which included a detailed interview. Patel is understood to have reiterated his interest in the job, which is believed to have involved an annual salary package in excess of US$500,000, when Morgan spoke to him just before announcing his name as the "preferred choice" during the board meeting in Dubai last month.
"We need to remember that this is not a minor appointment that is being discussed and it was obvious that a fair amount of groundwork was put in before the preferred choice was announced last month. There is a deep sense of disappointment about how things have turned out after that," said a source.
The search for the ICC's next CEO