Goodbye Dolly

Due to being at the game on Saturday and a family night out the same evening I more or less missed the sad news of the death of Basil D’Oliveira.

It’s not given to many sporstmen to affect materially the social organisation of their native (or any other) country – even inadvertently – but that is what Basil D’Oliviera did.

I remember him as a composed batsman, an elegant stroke maker, but it is his contribution to the unwinding of the apartheid regime in South Africa that will be more commented on. There had been protests against that system before but it was the refusal of the then South African government to countenance his membership of an MCC touring party with the certainty that the “coloured” D’Oliveira would have played in Test matches in the country of his birth – albeit for England – that crystallised for many the iniquity of apartheid and its eventual downfall through various sporting boycotts and isolation. For D’Oliviera seemed the epitome of the cricketing ideal, sportsmanlike and dignified on the field, and his banning by the regime an act of extreme petty spitefulness.

His actual age may have been older than many sources quote as he may have given the impression he was younger than he was in order to be chosen to play for England. His wiki entry quotes a source for this.

Basil Lewis D’Oliveira: 4/10/1931-19/11/2011. So it goes.

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