South African director of cricket Graeme Smith believes incumbent BCCI president Sourav Ganguly is the most viable candidate to assume charge of the ICC.
Shashank Manohar, the current chairman of the ICC, will not be seeking re-election as his term ends at the end of May whereas Ganguly's stint with the BCCI is expected to expire in July if the Supreme Court does not grant an extension.
Smith spoke highly of Ganguly's leadership credentials, singling him out as the 'right person' to take the reins of the apex cricket body at a time of crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
"It is very important to have the right person as head of the ICC," the former Proteas skipper said.
"Post-COVID, cricket will need strong leadership and it is time for someone close to the modern game with leadership credentials to get into the position."
Smith's calls for Ganguly's election at a tele-conference on Thursday were backed by CSA interim chief Jacques Faul as well.
"We have always closely worked with India and it must play a leadership role in the FTP and a responsible one. Our engagements with Sourav has been positive and his willingness to help us," Faul said as plans are underway to conduct a T20I series between the two nations in August.
"We have checked with the leadership of CSA on if we would support an Indian candidate [as the ICC chief] and at this stage, we would."
The topic of choosing the new ICC chief could feature in discussions at the cricket organisation's meeting next week, though other issues are likely to be addressed more fervently by the board members.
Despite the interest expressed by Smith and Faul over a possible ICC presidency for Ganguly, CSA has officially declared its non-partisan take on the matter.
“We must respect both the ICC protocol and our own protocol in deciding which candidate to back,” CSA president Chris Nenzani was quoted as saying in a CSA media release.
“There have been no candidates nominated as yet and once such nominations have been made the Board of CSA will take its decision in terms of its own protocol and give the chairman the mandate to exercise his vote as an ICC Board Director accordingly."
“We have the highest regard for the opinions of our Director of Cricket, Graeme Smith, who is a well-respected figure in world cricket and has already made an immense contribution in fulfilling his mandate to make our cricket teams world leaders again.
“At the moment we don’t want to anticipate any candidates who may be nominated for this important position to lead the game we all love."