Greg Ritchie

Greg Ritchie was delivering a speech at a luncheon at the Gabba when he made the alleged remarks Getty Images

Brisbane: Nov 11, 2012

Former Australia Test batsman Greg Ritchie, who allegedly made racist remarks during a luncheon at the Gabba on Friday, has defended himself and refused to apologise.

The television personality was accused of making racist and anti-Muslim comments while delivering a lunchtime speech during the ongoing Test match between Australia and South Africa. The 52-year-old was attacked for using the word “k-word”, along with making unfavourable remarks about the Muslim community in the address, South Africa s Sunday Times reported.

“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 allegedly said.

However, Ritchie vehemently defended his remarks. “If they take offence, that s their choice,” he was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.

“I ve got nothing against the Muslim people. 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,” he told Fairfax.

Ritchie also used the “k-word” in the same address.

“Hey Kepler, you re not going to call this lot k****** 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.

However, Ritchie defended himself saying: “It s a joke I ve used 500 times. 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 is to emphasize the fear I had playing against the West Indies. It is a shocking term and it relays the great fear that we all had about facing the West Indies bowling. 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.”

Ritchie unwelcome on Australian cricket grounds: Cricket Australia

Later, a Cricket Australia (CA) spokesman said that Ritchie was not welcome at Australian cricket grounds until further notice. However, they stopped short of officially banning him.

“Cricket Australia is of the view that it s not appropriate for Greg to be at our cricket venues at this time,” he said, as quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald.

“There is absolutely no place for racism in sport on or off the field. We re fully supportive of the ICC s anti-racism policy on cricket.

Meanwhile, Wessels, who is in Brisbane on a commentary assignment for South African network SuperSport, told the Sunday Times he may take legal action against the 52-year-old.

“That s a disgraceful, offensive and libelous comment to make,” Wessels said. “It s certainly not what I m about and everyone who knows me will know that. I have no idea what he might be referring to. I haven t even spoken to him since the early ’80s.”

Ritchie is also alleged to have also made offensive remarks about Pakistan and its former cricket captain Imran Khan.

“There s a place in Pakistan called Lahore. There weren t many of them (w*****) around when we were there in 1982, I can tell you.”

About Imran, he reportedly said: “He s an absolute knob is Imran Khan, that s the only way to describe him.”

South Africa team manager, Mohammed Moosajee, told the Sunday Times: “If that is what was uttered, it is both disappointing and despicable for someone to make these racist comments. Racism has no place in society and in sport.”