Saturday, 19 November 2011

Basil D'Oliveria

Tributes are coming in to Basil D'Oliveira CBE (4 October 1931 – 19 November 2011), who  known affectionately around the world as "Dolly", Although born in  South African-born cricketer. D'Oliveira was classified as 'coloured' under the apartheid regime, and hence barred from first-class cricket. He captained South Africa's national non-white cricket team, and also played football for the non-white national side. However under the Apartheid  refime he was forced to pursue his carrer un England for who played  in forty-four Test matches, and four ODIs. Despite his cricketing prowess, he was best known because of the "D'Oliveira affair", centred around his inclusion in the England side for a planned tour to South Africa in 1968

Dispite his undoubted talents he was left out of the touring party under the pretext that his bowling would not be effective in his native country. South African cricket officials, realising that the inclusion of D'Oliveira would lead to the cancellation of the tour and probable exclusion from Test cricket, exerted pressure on the MCC hierarchy and the decision not to pick him was felt by opponents of apartheid to be a way of keeping cricket links with South Africa open

.There was dissent in the press . But too many it was Doolys treatment by the MCC which brought out the worst in the people running English cricket,  and made us  confront the appalling reality of Apartheid and all but the MCC ducked the issue  and if my memory serves me led a particularly strong denouncement from BBC presenter David Coleman of the MCC cowidice  live on air  

In the  to this course of events and when Warwickshire's Tom Cartwright was ruled out because of injury, D'Oliveira was called up into the squad.] South African prime minister B. J. Vorster had already made it clear that D'Oliveira's inclusion was not acceptable, and despite many negotiations the tour was cancelled.  seen as a watershed in the sporting boycott of apartheid South Africa.

The D'Oliveria Afffair perhaps opened many more eyes to apartheid and was instrumental in the Gleneagles Agreement which led to the sporting and cultural boycott of South Africa so he indirectly played a huge part in the dismantling of apartheid which had forced him to play cricket  in another country.

I was a 15 year Schoolboy at the time and the affair was an important part in my education as the idea that a man should be excluded from anything because of his colour was abhorrent and a year later saw me taking part first demonstrations against the 1969 springbok tour in which my parents backed all the way.

The case of Basil D' Oliveria showed and still does that you cannot exclude politics from sport and the recent events in football and the comments of Sepp Blatter shows we  must  ever vigilant in opposing discrimination and racism. where ever it appears

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