'Dolly', the all-rounder who fought prejudice with a quiet dignity, dies aged 80
Sunday 20 November 2011
One of English cricket's best-loved and most significant players ended his innings yesterday. Basil D'Oliveira, a cricketer who changed the course of history after becoming an unwitting symbol of the struggle against apartheid, died at his home after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. He was 80.
D'Oliveira, affectionately known as "Dolly", will forever be remembered for his role at the centre of one of the most contentious episodes in the history of cricket.
Rejected by his homeland's national team for being "coloured", the all-rounder emigrated to England in 1960 and became a Test regular, playing in more than 40 Tests. He took 47 Test wickets and scored 2,484 runs, with his 40-plus batting average helped by several Test centuries – including 158 against Australia at the Oval in the 1968 Ashes series.
It was that sort of form that caused outrage when he was initially excluded from the England team to tour South Africa in 1968. After a change of heart, his inclusion then prompted the National Party of South Africa to refuse to accept a "Cape coloured". The tour was subsequently cancelled and it was to be more than 20 years before South Africa came in from the cold, after the fall of apartheid marked by Nelson Mandela's release from prison in 1990.
Gerald Majola, chief executive of Cricket South Africa, said: "Basil displayed a human dignity that earned him worldwide respect and admiration. His memory and inspiration will live on among all of us. 'Dolly', as he was known around the world by an audience that went far beyond the game of cricket, was a true legend and a son of whom all South Africans can be extremely proud."
Michael Vaughan, a former England captain, wrote on Twitter: "RIP Basil D'Oliveira... Great man." And England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke paid tribute to D'Oliveira's "bravery and determination".
The veteran anti-apartheid campaigner and Labour MP Peter Hain, who writes above, described him as "a key agent in the transformation of South Africa from the evil of apartheid to today's non-racial society".
D'Oliveira never got to play for the country of his birth, and retired in 1980. He went on to coach Worcestershire County Cricket Club, mentoring future stars such as Ian Botham, Graham Dilley and Graeme Hick, and seeing Worcestershire crowned County Champions in 1988 and 1989.
His son Damian, who also played for Worcestershire and is now the county's academy director, said: "It is a sad time for us as a family but, after a long battle against Parkinson's disease, Dad passed away peacefully. Although it is difficult, we will celebrate a great life rather than mourn a death."
England 'favourites' to host 2018 World Cup after Sepp Blatter resignation - Qatar and Russia under pressure
Sepp Blatter quits as Fifa president live: South African government admits 'thin line' between bribery and legacy contributions
Sepp Blatter resignation: The exit of the Fifa president must lead to real change
Fifa corruption: Europe plots to stage an 'alternative World Cup' in place of Russia 2018
Brendan Rodgers' job safe for now but Liverpool owners plan for improvement
- 1 School kitchen manager 'fired from Colorado school for giving hungry students free lunches'
- 2 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 5 Charles Kennedy 'had better judgement drunk than many sober politicians' says Ian Hislop
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers