London: Controversial England batting legend Geoffrey Boycott made a grovelling apology on Tuesday for remarking he needed to "black up his face" to get a knighthood at an event last week.
The 76-year-old astonished his audience with his comment during a question and answer session in one of the intervals at last week's first Test with the West Indies.
Boycott, who played a pivotal role in organising the 1982 England rebel tour of South Africa when sporting links had been cut with the rest of the world because of the apartheid regime, said knighthoods had been bestowed on West Indian cricketers like "confetti".
"Mine's been turned down twice. I'd better black me face," Boycott is reported to have said according to a guest at the event cited by The Daily Mirror.
The guest at the event — which cost £300 ($385, 327 euros) to attend — said the remark though intended as a joke was "crass" and went down like a "lead balloon".
However, Boycott — who has overcome throat cancer in 2002 to become a popular and outspoken pundit on BBC Radio's globally renowned Test Match Special — took to Twitter on Tuesday to unreservedly apologise.
"Speaking at an informal gathering I was asked a question and I realise my answer was unacceptable," he tweeted.
"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."
West Indies greats like Viv Richards, Garfield Sobers and Curtly Ambrose have been knighted whilst the last England cricketer to be knighted was Ian Botham — no stranger to controversy himself — in 2007.
Boycott has always contended the reason he has not been knighted is because of his conviction in France — firstly in 1996 and confirmed on appeal in 1998 — for assaulting former girlfriend Margaret Moore.
A durable but unspectacular opening batsman, Boycott played 108 Tests, scoring 8114 runs with 22 centuries at an average of 47.72.
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The second Test starts on 10 June and will be played at the Edgbaston.
The 29-year-old opener had launched his Test career with a stunning 200 on debut in the first of this two-match series at Lord's last week.
The paceman led England's attack with 4-75 in the first innings at Lord's and followed up with 3-26 in the second while in between making a useful 42 with the bat.