Grounded Isaac right man for the job

17:00, Aug 06 2010
Alan Isaac
ALAN ISAAC: "I work on the basis that you treat others the way you want them to treat you. I also recognise you need to take a long-term view, you might have to trade something off to get something else down the track."

It says something about Alan Isaac that a day after he was nominated for vice-president of the ICC he was out watching club rugby.

One of the most important roles in cricket is going to a man who shifts comfortably between a suit and a sweater, a boardroom and a bar stool.

Isaac did not think twice about heading out to watch Johnsonville battle for survival in the Hardham Cup rugby competition. Of course there would be jokes about securing a cricket test for Alex Moore Park but the gibes are a mark of respect for a man who has climbed to the top but never lost sight of where he came from.

Isaac doesn't like much of a fuss being made of him, probably a throwback to his upbringing in a working class family.

Alan Raymond Isaac was born in Wellington on January 20, 1952, and lived in the Johnsonville house his father, Ray, built till the age of 22, when he married Mary. His late father was a builder and his mother, Jean, a housewife.

He credits his father for his interest in cricket, though he had to start out playing softball because there was no team for children under 10.


It proved no impediment. Isaac made age-grade representative teams as a left-hand batsman, captained Wellington B for three years and had 20 years in the Johnsonville senior side. He also played senior rugby for University, Wellington College Old Boys and Johnsonville, primarily at fullback.

All this while embarking on the most promising of accounting careers.

Word spread of the sharp, young accountant with an interest in cricket. He was made a partner of accounting firm KPMG at 24 and was elected treasurer of the Wellington Cricket Association the same year.

Recognition and distinguished service have followed.

AT 44 he was made chairman of partners at KPMG and he retained that role until he ended his 35-year association with the company in 2006.

Isaac is brilliant with dates and numbers. He has been on too many boards to list and likes to spend his downtime reading sports autobiographies and playing golf, even if his wife, Mary, always beats him.

"She's a five handicapper, maybe six today. I hit it straight, but not very far."

Of course, this is not why Isaac is in the news. In two years he will be president of the ICC; for the next two he will be vice-president provided his nomination is approved.

Sir John Anderson was New Zealand Cricket's initial nomination but that was derailed by Cricket Australia's preference for former Australian prime minister John Howard, who in turn was thrown out without a vote by ICC representatives.

Amid the chaos Anderson persuaded Isaac to put himself forward as New Zealand's nomination.

"I don't feel like I'm second or third pick. I was encouraged through the process to be available by several people."

There is a school of thought that Isaac will suit the role because of his conciliatory approach to decision-making. The president's role is a non-voting one, their work done outside the boardroom.

ISAAC does not like the ICC being referred to as dysfunctional. However, he accepts its reputation has been hit for six a few times.

"What you have to appreciate is there is 10 to 13 countries around the table and on any issue people are going to have their own position, and there is often no one answer.

"You hope that you get most of them right and often you won't make a decision that pleases everybody.

"I work on the basis that you treat others the way you want them to treat you. I also recognise you need to take a long-term view – you might have to trade something off to get something else down the track.

"It comes back to leadership. It is about trust and respect. If you don't have that you are going to struggle. My priority is to get that trust and respect and then at the end of the day we can build a better reputation for ICC so it is seen to make better decisions."

One could be forgiven for thinking that having Isaac in such an important role will ensure New Zealand does not get squeezed into the second tier of test cricket with the likes of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Isaac responds diplomatically. "Some countries see it that way. The role of the ICC is to act in the best interests of cricket. If I'm elected that is an honour for New Zealand but clearly the responsibility is to act in the best interests of world cricket."

With that in mind, Isaac says the most pressing matter for the ICC is settling on the future tours programme for the eight-year cycle post 2012 and finding a context for the three forms of the game.

Whatever happens around the ICC table, rest assured Isaac will remain one of us.

"I came from a working class family. I like to think there aren't any airs and graces and I'm comfortable in that space, but if I have to mix with senior people with the work I've done I'm fine.

"I'm just the boy from Johnsonville. I've been lucky."


Name: Alan Isaac
Age: 58
Family: Married to Mary, three sons, Ryan, Trent, Brad.
Business: Current directorships Chairman, New Zealand Cricket Director, Wakefield Health Director, Opus International Consultants Trustee, New Zealand Community Trust Trustee, New Zealand Red Cross Foundation Trustee, First Foundation Other current governance roles Independent Committee Chair Economic Development Ministry Risk Management and Assurance Committee Wakefield Health Audit and Risk Committee New Zealand Fire Service Audit Committee consultant and adviser Chairman of McGrathNicoland Partners. Social Development Ministry Audit Committee Wellington City Council, Council Controlled Organisation Performance Sub Committee Previous directorships Board member, Sport and Recreation New Zealand (Sparc) Board member, NZ Golf Deputy chairman, Rugby New Zealand 2011 Director, NZ Trade & Enterprise Career Professional 2006 – present Professional director and corporate adviser 1971 – 2006 KPMG


Playing Captain and member of various Wellington age-group sides, including four years in the under-23 side Captain of the Wellington second XI for three years Twenty years in the Johnsonville club's top side Club Currently president of the Johnsonville Cricket Club and chairman of the committee arranging the club's 125th anniversary Elected as a life member in 1986 aged 34

Administration Treasurer of the Wellington Cricket Association from 1976 to 1987, and also deputy chairman 1986-1987 Sole Wellington under-20 selector 1990-1993 and then first-class selector from 1992-1996 Elected to the board of NZC as an independent member in 1990 Appointed chairman in September 2008 Member of the ICC executive board since September 2008 Chairman of the ICC audit committee and a member of the finance and commercial affairs committee

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