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Sat Apr 19 20:08:06 SAST 2014

Racism furore overshadows cricket in Australia

Gareth Cotterell | 11 November, 2012 10:140 Comments
Cricket bat and balls
Image by: Teaukura Moetaua / Getty Images

The test series between South Africa and Australia has been overshadowed by racist remarks made by a former Australian player.

Sunday Times reports that Greg Ritchie used the k-word and made jokes about Muslims during a lunch-time function at the Brisbane Cricket Ground.

Ritchie dragged former South African captain Kepler Wessels into the controversy. They were teammates while Wessels played for Australia during apartheid. Ritchie told an anecdote about the time they played against the West Indies and he said to his South African teamate 'Hey, Kepler, your not going to call this lot k****** today, are you?'.

An upset Wessels has labelled this comment as disgraceful.

The racist rant did not stop there though. Ritchie made an offensive joke about Muslims saying, "I've got nothing against the Muslim people. 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!'"

He also referred to former Pakistan captain and cricket great Imran Khan as 'an absolute knob'.

The Sydney Morning Herald has since reported that Ritchie is defending himself against the racism claims.

The former player is refusing to apologise.

Of the Muslim comments, Ritchie has said "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 claims he meant no harm when telling the joke about Wessels.

"It's a joke I've used 500 times," Ritchie said on Sunday. "It's a reference to us playing against the West Indies [in a match for Queensland against the West Indies in 1980] and I say to him 'You wouldn't use that word against these guys would you?'. I am not saying that Kepler said that word at all."

"It's disappointing to think this has become an issue. I do a lot of public speaking around the world and I tell the story all the time."

The Australian has since been told he is no longer welcome at any of the matches during the current test series in which South Africa and Australia are vying for the top spot in the test rankings.

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