Former Test cricketer defends anti-Muslim ‘joke’

Former Test batsman Greg Ritchie has defended himself against claims of racist and anti-Muslim comments at a Brisbane Test luncheon, refusing to apologise and saying: “If they take offence that’s their choice.”

The ex-Australian player and television personality was attacked for using the forbidden “k-word” during a lunchtime speech at the Brisbane Cricket Ground Trust members dining room on day one of the first Test against South Africa on Friday. He also made disparaging remarks about Islamic people in the address, South Africa’s Sunday Times reported.

“I’ve got nothing against the Muslim people,” Ritchie was reported as saying on Friday. “Just this morning I had to try and stop three little Muslim boys trying to break the lock on my car boot. I had to say, ‘Shut up! You’re in there for a reason!'”

On Sunday, Ritchie told Fairfax: “That’s a joke that I use, and I’ll continue to use it. It’s just a little humourous joke to indicate that they’re not my favourite people of my choice. If they take offence that’s their choice.”

Ritchie also defended himself against the accusations of racism by using the word “kaffir” in the lunchtime address.

“Hey Kepler, you’re not going to call this lot kaffirs today, are you,” the Queenslander was reported as saying in reference to his former teammate Kepler Wessels, who during the 1980s could not play for his native South Africa due to their international ban. Wessels has threatened legal action.

Sydney Morning Herald, 11 November 2012

See also The Courier-Mail, 11 November 2012