And Brett makes three! A new D'Oliveira is making his mark

As a new season starts, Worcester await the third generation of a very famous name

The County Ground at New Road, Worcester needs no introduction as a haven for cricket nostalgics. The charming, flood-ravaged Victorian pavilion may have gone but the willows and horse chestnuts, tiny grandstands and protected view of the Gothic cathedral on the banks of the River Severn preserve the cherished belief that the essence of English county cricket resides there.

Worcestershire see themselves as a family club – in their case more than a throwaway line from the marketing department. In the early 1900s, seven of the side were called Foster, all brothers. Now no family name carries such resonance as D'Oliveira and in the coming weeks – the new season starts, unprecedentedly early, on Thursday – there will be a new wave of nostalgia when Brett, the 20-year-old grandson of Basil, makes his home debut, the third generation in the D'Oliveira line to wear the Pears badge.

There will be an added poignancy. After more than a decade stricken with Parkinson's disease, Basil D'Oliveira died in November at the age of 80. His memorial service in January attracted more than 1,000 to the Cathedral, many to acknowledge his role in the political turmoil of 1968 when his selection in the MCC squad to tour South Africa was blocked by the John Vorster government, sparking the sporting boycott many credit with breaking the apartheid regime. It was a response, according to Damian D'Oliveira – Basil's son and Brett's father – that overwhelmed the family.

"The cards we received, the messages of condolence, the emails – it was quite amazing," Damian said. "I had something like 800 messages on my phone, let alone the stuff that came in via the club and via the website we set up. It obviously had a bigger impact than we ever thought. There was no way we could answer them all, which is why you are grateful for an opportunity like this."

Basil, categorised as "Cape coloured" in his native land, played for Worcestershire from 1964-80 and earned 44 Test caps. He had left Cape Town to join Middleton in the Lancashire League in 1960, while his wife Naomi was pregnant with Damian. He himself played for the county from 1982-95 and is now their academy director and spin bowling coach, in which roles he has worked with Brett.

"I'm proud as punch to have Brett following in the line," Damian said. "I think it is the first club to have a third generation from the same family. His older brothers, Marcus and Dominic, both played here in age-group cricket but Brett's just been a bit more serious about taking it further. He has worked really hard and he deserves the opportunity.

"I've probably been tougher on him than some of the other academy boys. Our relationship is the opposite to mine with my father. When he was coach and I was a player we'd always be in separate nets, but as spin bowling coach I have to work with Brett.

"But the last thing I would want anyone to think is that he has got a contract here because of his name. He hasn't. It is almost like you have to justify him being here so he does put in extra work, but he doesn't shirk it."

Brett, a middle-order batsman and leg-spinner, made his county debut in a 40-over match against Yorkshire at Headingley last August, a week after signing his first professional contract. Memories of his grandfather will be with him when he plays at New Road for the first time.

"I never really thought of him as anyone but my grandfather," he said. "I used to bowl at him in his garden when I was young – I got him out once and he wasn't too pleased – and I remember that he always used to sit in the same chair in the bar here.

"But it does make me proud knowing what happened as a result of him being picked for England, to think that he was my grandad.

"I was always down here. I loved the thought of playing cricket and now I'm getting the opportunity. And, of course, like anyone starting out I'd love one day to play for England."

Brett has been back to the St Augustine's club where his grandfather played when he lived in the segregated community in the Signal Hill area of Cape Town. He is the fourth generation of the family to play for them.

"My father's father, Lewis, played there back in the 1950s," Damian recalled. "I remember the two of them around our kitchen table, my grandad asking my dad how many sixes he got, then criticising him for hitting too many balls in the air.

"We have always stayed in contact with St Augustine's and we went back last year. We had to interrupt Brett's stay there after only a few weeks when my father passed away but I hope he will be able to go back."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most