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Basil D'Oliveira RIP


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England legend D'Oliveira dies

Former England all-rounder Basil D'Oliveira has died at the age of 80.

Born in South Africa, D'Oliveira moved to England in 1960 due to the lack of opportunities for non-White players.

In 1968 he was named in England's squad to tour South Africa which was then cancelled as South Africa's government refused to accept his presence.

D'Oliveira played county cricket for Worcestershire between 1964-80 and represented England in 44 Tests, scoring 2484 runs at an average of 40.

Cricket South Africa chief executive Gerald Majola led the tributes to D'Oliveira, saying: "He was a man of true dignity and a wonderful role model as somebody who overcame the most extreme prejudices and circumstances to take his rightful place on the world stage.

"The fact that he could have a Test career batting average of 40 in 44 Tests and an economy rate of less than two with the ball on his way to 47 wickets was remarkable considering he was past his prime when he made his debut for England in his mid-30s.

"One can only imagine what he might have achieved had he made his debut as he should have done at the age of 20 on South Africa's tour of England in 1951.

"I would like to pay tribute also to all those people in England, notably John Arlott, one of the greatest cricket radio commentators of all time, for the roles they played in making it possible for Basil to achieve his dream of playing international cricket for his adopted country.

"The circumstances surrounding his being prevented from touring the country of his birth with England in 1968 led directly to the intensification of opposition to apartheid around the world and contributed materially to the sports boycott that turned out to be an Achilles heel of the apartheid government.

"Throughout this shameful period in South Africa's sporting history, Basil displayed a human dignity that earned him worldwide respect and admiration.

"His memory and inspiration will live on among all of us. On behalf of the CSA family I would like to convey our sympathies to his family and salute them on a life well lived."

Sad news but good innings and all that.

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This sad news makes me want to launch into a rant, so here goes...

My dad used to play back yard cricket with D'Oliveira as a kid in Cape Town. If I can be allowed a generalisation, the "Cape Coloureds" tend to be absolutely delightful people, and everyone got along pretty well in the Cape. Then the Afrikaner Nationalist (apartheid) government got stuck in and moved the "Cape Coloureds" out of the nicest parts of Cape Town (Couldn't have people with different skin colours all mingling together now, could we?). To this day there are perfectly respectable English-colonial families living in houses expropriated from perfectly respectable "Coloured" families in the name of apartheid, and a lot of them don't even know it because they paid the market price for their house.

The 1960's was the period where the inbred fuckhead Afrikaner National Party went from being racist idiots (like much of the rest of the world at the time), to being pigheaded flagbearers of racist idiocy, while the rest of the world began to change. Vorster, the prime minister who banned him from touring SA had been in the Ossewa Brandwag (which translates as Oxwagon Firewatch) - during the Second World War. English-colonials and moderate Afrikaners volunteered in large numbers to fight for the Allies, whereas the O.B. were dedicated to sabotaging the South African war effort on behalf of the Nazis. Incidentally a couple of Vorster's fellow party members and successors/predecessors as PM were also in the O.B. What a happy bunch they were.

Thinking about how **** up it all was is just utterly frustrating and depressing. I like to think that if SA had been ruled with a little intelligence and humanity, apartheid could have been quietly set aside as a bad idea, D'Oliveira could have been part of a stronger SA cricket team, and the whole country could have started to move forward in 1960, rather than 1990. Instead, SA is still paying for it to this day. Great place, though!

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This man was probably the most understated legend of the game, not necessarily for what he did on the pitch (although that helped), but for what he inadvertently (it seems) did off the pitch for the stand he made at that ugly time. RIP Dolly. Legend. :(

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