Ex-cricketer in racism storm
Greg Ritchie.

Former Australian cricketer Greg Ritchie has been accused of racism after making jokes during a lunch speech at the first Test in Brisbane.

Ritchie has drawn the wrath of cricketing authorities and an old teammate after using the derogatory word "kaffir" during a speech at the Gabba on Friday.

Perth Muslim leaders and academics yesterday condemned Ritchie's comments.

According to South Africa's Sunday Times, Ritchie used the racial slur while recounting an anecdote involving South African Kepler Wessels when the pair played together for Queensland against the West Indies in 1980. "Hey Kepler, you're not going to call this lot kaffirs today, are you," he said.

Ritchie, who has previously been in hot water for comedy sketches portraying an Indian called Mahatma Cote, was also reported to have cracked an anti-Muslim joke, made fun of the Pakistani city of Lahore and said cricket great Imran Khan was "an absolute knob".

Cricket Australia admonished Ritchie yesterday and said he would not be welcome as a guest speaker at any cricket venue for the rest of the summer.

"We've made it clear that the comments are absolutely unacceptable," a CA spokesman said.

Wessels said he was considering legal action, while the Proteas told the Times the comments were "disappointing and despicable".

South African-born Perth Islamic leader Burhaan Mehtar said the remarks were immature and Ritchie should apologise.

"To use the 'k' word in South Africa is as bad as using the 'n' word in the United States," Imam Mehtar said. "There is nothing more derogatory."

Centre for Muslim States and Societies director Samina Yasmeen said the remarks crossed the line.

"There's a limit," she said. "I can understand that sometimes you can crack jokes . . . but when you are a public figure and you are in a public space it becomes doubly difficult for someone to say 'well, that's just a joke'."

Ritchie said the term kaffir was not meant to offend. He did not intend to suggest Wessels had used the word himself.

"I didn't say that Kepler said the word," he said. "It's emphasising the fact it's a shocking thing to say."

Ritchie stood by the jokes against Muslims and Pakistan, believing some people were too precious.

The West Australian

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