Cricket legend Geoffrey Boycott targets Viv, Sobers with racist comments

Geoffrey Boycott said knighthoods were handed out like “confetti” to West Indies cricket greats like Viv Richards, Sobers and Ambrose.

cricket Updated: Aug 22, 2017 19:13 IST
Harit Joshi
Harit Joshi
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Geoffrey Boycott,cricket,England cricket team
England and Yorkshire batsman Geoffrey Boycott (left) shares a joke with West Indies batsman Viv Richards in the dressing room in Antigua during the 1981 Test series between West Indies and England. Boycott triggered a racism storm with his comments on how the West Indians got knighthood(Getty Images)

English cricket legend Geoffrey Boycott has sparked off a race row controversy after suggesting that he would have had a better chance of being knighted if he “blacked up” his face. (Read: Geoffrey Boycott apologises)

The 76-year-old popular television commentator made the comment to VIP guests during a break in play at the day-night Test against the West Indies in Birmingham on Saturday, according to a report in Mirror.

After terming the process of knighthood like “confetti” to West Indies greats, Geoffrey Boycott told the Sky Sports presenter, hosting a question and answer session: “Mine’s been turned down twice. I’d better black me face.”

An uneasy silence followed after Boycott’s comment where diners, which included several black guests, had paid nearly 300 Pounds each for a luxury hospitality package.

Geoffrey Boycott, who played 108 Tests, said he was being blocked from getting the knighthood for being a convict in France in 1996. Though he fought the conviction, it was upheld.

Eleven West Indian cricketers have been knighted so far and that includes cricket greats like Curtly Ambrose, Garfield Sobers and Viv Richards.

Geoffrey Boycott has been criticised for his comments on West Indian cricketers getting knighthood (Getty Images)

Boycott’s comment did not go down well with the members who attended the exclusive dinner. He has been branded as a ‘dinosaur’.

“It was a crass comment. It was intended to get a laugh but it went down like a lead balloon. People were offended,” said one of the diners.

“Is Boycott suggesting these great West Indians got knighthoods merely because of the colour of their skin? Birmingham is celebrated for its ethnic diversity and racial tolerance,” the diner added.

Desmond Jaddoo, an activist in Birmingham, said Geoffrey Boycott’s comments were “like something from the dark ages. They were ill-advised and ill-conceived.”

Sir Ian Botham was the last England star to get a knighthood in 2007 for services to cricket.

First Published: Aug 22, 2017 12:34 IST