Pringle: Boycott is on a sticky wicket
AS A batsman, Geoffrey Boycott prided himself on a stout defence.Yet even he has acknowledged that the straightest bat cannot deflect the criticism coming his way following his crass remarks about race and knighthoods.
Boycott made the remarks while attending a Q&A during the Edgbaston Test. Making a comment about knighthoods in cricket, Boycott said he’d be more likely to receive the honour if he “blacked his face” – a quip presumably aimed at Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Andy Roberts and Sir Curtly Ambrose, three former West Indies cricketers ennobled for their stellar careers in the game.
Although an attempt at polemic humour, the claim has offended many with its racism. As a result, Boycott has apologised “unreservedly” for his remarks, adding that they were unacceptable and that he “loves West Indies cricket” and has “nothing but the utmost respect for their players”.
A controversialist of longstanding, Boycott is not stupid, though there is a worrying ignorance to his comment. Richards, Roberts and Ambrose were all knighted by Antigua, being citizens of that country, for their “distinguished and outstanding service to Antigua and Barbuda”.
It is not a knighthood that can be claimed in Britain which is bestowed by the Queen, an honour which Boycott, already unofficially Sir Geoffrey in parts of South Yorkshire, claimed he has twice been refused following separate applications.
Perhaps, on reflection, he might have said that he’d have stood a better chance of becoming a knight if he’d swapped his British passport for an Antiguan one. It would still have been in poor taste but that way he’d only have incurred the wrath of three proud men who would, presumably, then have served justice their way.
Still, a frightening prospect if you know them.