Geoffrey Boycott, the former England batsman and Test Match Specialsummariser, has made an “unreserved apology” after suggesting that he’d have a better chance of getting a knighthood if he “blacked up” his face to look like a West Indian cricketer.
Boycott, who played 108 Tests for England between 1964 and 1982, including 29 against West Indies, made his remarks during a question-and-answer session at a VIP lunch during the first Test against West Indies at Edgbaston.
Knighthoods, he said, were handed out like “confetti” to West Indies greats – he named no names, but a total of 11 former Caribbean greats have been conferred the honour to date, including Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Garfield Sobers and Sir Curtly Ambrose.
“Mine’s been turned down twice,” he told the event’s host, Gary Newbon. “I’d better black me face.”
Boycott’s remarks were met with an uneasy silence by his audience, a room that included several black guests who had paid close to £300 a head for the occasion.
In the wake of a wave of criticism, with one of those present denouncing him as a “dinosaur”, Boycott took to Twitter to apologise.
“Speaking at an informal gathering I was asked a question and I realise my answer was unacceptable,” he wrote. “I meant no offence but what I said was clearly wrong and I apologise unreservedly.
“I have loved West Indian cricket my whole life and have the utmost respect for its players.”
The last England cricketer to receive a knighthood was Sir Ian Botham in 2007, with Sir Alec Bedser earning his a decade earlier in 1997.