South Africa honours former England cricketer Basil D'Oliveira

Basil D’Oliveira, who died last month, was forced to leave his country South Africa to play for England in 1960 because the national squad allowed only white player Getty Images

Durban: Dec 29, 2011

Basil D’Oliveira, the South African cricketer whose treatment at the hands of the white minority apartheid government sparked the international sporting boycott of the country in the 1960s, has been honoured by a provincial cricket board.

D’Oliveira, who died last month aged 80, was forced to leave the country of his birth to play for England in 1960 because cricket was racially segregated then and the national squad allowed only white players.

The KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union has named its executive suite ‘The Basil D’Oliveira Suite’ in honour of the player who was later denied entry to the country to play in an international for his adopted country, England, forcing the cancellation of the tour and the start of the international isolation of South Africa that would only end three decades later.

A commemorative brochure was also prepared to mark the occasion, attended by several octogenarians from across the country that had played with Dolly, as the player was affectionately known.

“This is in recognition of this cricketing prowess and the dignified way in which he conducted himself both on and off the field, and the symbol that he became for those denied the opportunity to play for their country,” said the president of the union, Fa-eez Jaffer.

“Dolly was a world-class, talented, determined black South African who would have achieved so much in the cricketing fraternity in South Africa, had he not been classified as a Cape Coloured (under apartheid laws) – what a tragedy!” said Beresford Williams, a family friend and now president of the Western Cape Cricket Association.

“He was a living embodiment of the fact that far from being insignificant, the cricketers who played on the wrong side of the colour line in the bad old days were often the ones really sowing the seeds for the future,” added Williams.

“D’Oliveira was ultimately a victor. He chose to liberate himself; to free himself of the inequality and the apartheid oppression.”

D’Oliveira represented England until the age of 40 and was lauded by the first democratically-elected president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, when he returned to his homeland to watch a new generation of Proteas of all races playing together. (PTI)