And the game changed for ever (5)

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Offline maruppharm

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And the game changed for ever (5)
« on: November 11, 2013, 01:50:26 PM »
1968: The D'Oliveira Affair exposes apartheid
The story of Basil D'Oliveira is one of the most romantic in the history of sport. A non-white man is prevented by apartheid from displaying his exceptional cricketing talents in his native South Africa. So he travels to Britain, where he endures a period of misery and loneliness before his genius is fully recognised and he is selected to play for England.

This part of the story is a fairytale come true. But D'Oliveira's selection for England was more than a dream: it was also a political statement, because it smashed the apartheid myth about the superiority of the white race. Elements of the British cricketing establishment were sympathetic to the apartheid regime, and he was initially omitted by MCC's selectors from the tour party for South Africa in 1968-69, despite having made 158 against Australia in the final Test of the summer. But when seamer Tom Cartwright pulled out of the trip, D'Oliveira was chosen to replace him. South Africa cancelled the tour.

The consequences of the international row that followed were enormous. Large sections of the British public were educated about the brutality and ugliness of racism. South African sporting links with England were broken off. The isolation of the apartheid regime deepened. Through it all, D'Oliveira maintained his integrity, and displayed a palpable decency in a crisis that transcended sport and helped bring an unspeakably evil social system to an end. PETER OBORNE

From Wisden 1969: The D'Oliveira Case, by Michael Melford
To the non-cricketing public, D'Oliveira's omission immediately after his innings at The Oval was largely incomprehensible. It was easy for many to assume political motives behind it and a bowing to South Africa's racial policies.


Basil D'Oliveira drives on his way to 158, England v Australia, 5th Test,  The Oval, August 23, 1968
Basil D'Oliveira sparked a crisis that transcended sport © Getty Images
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More knowledgeable cricketers were split between those who agreed that on technical grounds D'Oliveira was far from an automatic choice and who were doubtful if he would be any more effective in South Africa than he had been in the West Indies, and those who thought that after his successful comeback to Test cricket, it was "inhuman" not to pick him.

Some holding the latter opinion were also ready to see non-cricketing reasons for the omission... Much was said which was regretted later - four out of 19 members of MCC who resigned in protest applied for reinstatement within a few days - and Lord Fisher of Lambeth, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, was prompted to write to the Daily Telegraph condemning a leader "which appeared to cast doubt on the word of the selectors".

A group of 20 MCC members, the number required to call a special meeting of the club, asserted this right, co-opting the Rev. D. S. Sheppard as their main spokesman. For three weeks the affair simmered like an angry volcano.
Md Al Faruk
Assistant Professor, Pharmacy