Cricket / First Test: D'Oliveira set to attend Lord's

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BASIL D'OLIVEIRA said yesterday that he probably will be at Lord's for South Africa's return to Test cricket on English soil, writes Richard Smith.

He said his failure to reply to an MCC invitation to be a VIP guest at the game was never intended as a snub to the tourists or Lord's. Instead, the man who sparked off the sporting boycott of South Africa insisted there was 'a very good chance' he would attend on Saturday.

'What I want to make clear is that I've never said anything to snub Lord's or South Africa,' he said. 'I'm cross that I should be put in this predicament for something I never said - it's crazy.'

The former England all- rounder still lives in Worcester, where he used to coach the county side.

Viv Richards has decided not to take up a six-month contract in South Africa with Western Province, 'for family reasons', according to Percy Sonn, the club's vice-president. Sonn denied reports that the former West Indies captain had been offered between 360,000 and 500,000 rand ( pounds 64,600 and pounds 89,700) for a six- month contract, saying, 'it was never about money.'