|Full name||Basil Lewis D'Oliveira|
4 October 1931|
Cape Town, Cape Province, Union of South Africa
|Died||19 November 2011
Worcester, Worcestershire, England
|Bowling style||Right arm medium|
|Test debut (cap 432)||16 June 1966 v West Indies|
|Last Test||10 August 1972 v Australia|
|ODI debut (cap 3)||5 January 1971 v Australia|
|Last ODI||28 August 1972 v Australia|
|Domestic team information|
|Source: Cricinfo, 10 April 2008|
Basil Lewis D'Oliveira CBE (4 October 1931 – 19 November 2011), known affectionately around the world as "Dolly," was a South African cricketer who played for England. D'Oliveira was classified as 'coloured' under the apartheid regime, and hence barred from first-class cricket, resulting in his emigration to England. He played for the England cricket team in forty-four Test matches, and four ODIs. Despite his cricketing prowess, he was best known because of the "D'Oliveira affair," centred on his inclusion in the England side for a planned tour to South Africa in 1968.
With the support of John Arlott, and the members and supporters of St Augustine's Cricket Club in Cape Town, he emigrated to England in 1960, where the journalist John Kay found him a place in his Central Lancashire League team of Middleton. D'Oliveira noted his surprise at seeing white people doing menial work, and waiting on him in restaurants. He joined the first-class county Worcestershire in 1964 and became a British citizen.
In 1966 he was selected for England as an all-rounder, to face the West Indians in the second Test. He made a solid debut, scoring 27 before being run out, and returning figures of 1 for 24 and 1 for 46 with the ball in 39 overs. In the third Test, he scored 76 and 54, while capturing 2 for 51 and 2 for 77 at Trent Bridge, but the West Indies cantered to a 139-run victory. He contributed a fighting 88 in the fourth Test at Headingley, although England once again lost by an innings and 55 runs. D'Oliveira was quietly efficient in the final Test as England turned the tables on the West Indies, winning by an innings and 34 runs to finish the series as 3-1 losers. Against India he hit 109 in the first Test as England won by six wickets and went on to win the series 3-0. Facing Pakistan, he hit fifties in both innings of the first Test in a series that England won 2-0. He was one of the Wisden cricketers of the year for 1967.
Next up was an away series against the West Indies, early in 1968. D'Oliveira didn't turn in his best showing in the five matches, scoring only 137 runs at an average of 27.4. He did a lot of bowling, but picked up only three wickets, even though he was economical. Back in England, it was time for a five-Test Ashes series. The Aussies crushed England by 159 runs in first Test as England crumbled in their second innings, despite D'Oliveira's top scoring effort of 87 not out. He was then dropped for the subsequent three Tests. He was recalled by the selectors for the final Test at the Oval and a century (158 runs in the first innings) against Australia seemed to have guaranteed his place in the side to play the 1968–69 Test series in South Africa. He was left out of the touring party under the pretext that his bowling would not be effective in his native country.
However he was once again selected in June 1969 to face the West Indies, this time in a three-Test series. He followed that with a three-match series against New Zealand and then a seven-Test Ashes series Down Under in which he scored 369 runs at an average of 36.9, including 117 in the fifth Test at the MCG.
England then went on to New Zealand for two Tests, with Dolly scoring 100 in the first one and 58 and five in the second. Pakistan next visited England in 1971, and D'Oliveira enjoyed a fine series with the bat, making 241 runs at an average of 60.25. He was below-par in the three-Test series against India that followed, but was in better form for the visit of Australia in June 1972.
D'Oliveira completed his career having played 41 Tests. He scored 2484 runs at an average of 40.06, with five centuries and 15 fifties. He also captured 47 wickets at 39.55.
Playing style and personality
D'Oliveira was a successful batsman with a low backlift and powerful strokes. He was also a tough competitor. When he toured Australia in 1970–71 on the night after they won the series 2–0 he pushed his forefinger into the chest of every Australian he met, saying "We stuffed you." Wanting to play international cricket, D'Oliveira was somewhat cagey about his date of birth. After his death, journalist Pat Murphy with whom he collaborated on his autobiography stated:
|“||Basil had to lie about his age because he thought if they realised how old he was they would not pick him for England. So he came down from born in 1935 at that time, solidifying his place in the team as 1933 born and when I wrote his book in 1980 he finally conceded he was born in 1928. So by my calculation he was 38 when he first played for England in 1966 and 83 when he died.||”|
The D'Oliveira Affair
In 1968, 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 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. This was seen as a watershed in the sporting boycott of apartheid South Africa. The D'Oliveira Affair had a massive impact in turning international opinion against the oppressive apartheid regime in South Africa. It prompted changes in South African sport and eventually in society.
In 2000, he was nominated as one of 10 South African cricketers of the century, despite not having played for South Africa. In 2004, a perpetual trophy was struck for Test series between England and South Africa, and named the Basil D'Oliveira Trophy. In 2005, he was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours. In the same year, a stand at New Road, Worcester, was named in his honour.
In 1980 after the end of his playing career, he wrote an autobiography with the BBC's Pat Murphy, titled Time to Declare. In it, he stated for the first time that he was glad that the proposed South African cricket tour to England in 1970 was called off, for fear of public disturbances. In 2004, journalist Peter Oborne wrote a biography entitled Basil D'Oliveira: Cricket and Conspiracy, which was awarded the William Hill Sports Book of the Year and was accompanied by Paul Yule's RTS award-winning documentary Not Cricket—The Basil D'Oliveira Conspiracy.
He was married to Naomi, and their son Damian D'Oliveira also played first-class cricket for Worcestershire, while his younger brother Ivan played briefly for Leicestershire. His grandson Brett D'Oliveira is currently contracted with Worcestershire and made his debut for the county in 2011.
A farewell for D'Oliveira was written on the last 2011 issue of Time magazine by Trevor Manuel, South Africa's minister in the Presidency for national planning. It highlights the personal successes of the cricket player together with the impact he had on South African sport and society.
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