Basil D'Oliveira

Early life

Born into a religious Catholic family of Indian-Portuguese descent in Signal Hill, Cape Town, as a boy he would make his way down to the Newlands Cricket Ground in Cape Town, and climb the trees outside to watch the games.D’Oliveira captained South Africa’s national non- white cricket team, and also played football for the non-white national side.

The D’Oliveira Affair

Main article: D’Oliveira affair

South African cricket officials in 1968 realised that the inclusion of D’Oliveira in the England squad would lead to the cancellation of the tour, and probable exclusion of South Africa from Test cricket. This exerted pressure on the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) hierarchy leading to the decision not to pick him, which was felt by opponents of apartheid to be a way of keeping cricket links with South Africa open. There was dissent in the press to this course of events and when Warwickshire’s Tom Cartwright was ruled out because of injury, D’Oliveira was called up into the squad. South African prime minister B. J. Vorster had already made it clear that D’Oliveira’s inclusion was not acceptable, and despite many negotiations the tour was cancelled. This was seen as a watershed in the sporting boycott of apartheid South Africa. The D’Oliveira Affair had a massive impact in turning international opinion against the apartheid regime in South Africa. It prompted changes in South African sport and eventually in society.


In 2000, he was nominated as one of 10 South African cricketers of the century, despite not having played for South Africa. In 2004, a perpetual trophy was struck for Test series between England and South Africa, and named the Basil D’Oliveira Trophy. In 2005, he was

awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. In the same year, a stand at New Road, Worcester, was named in his honour.In 1980 after the end of his playing career, he wrote an autobiography with the BBC’s Pat Murphy, titled Time to Declare. In it, he stated for the first time that he was glad that the proposed South African cricket tour to England in 1970 was called off, for fear of public disturbances. In 2004, journalist Peter Oborne wrote a biography entitled Basil D’Oliveira: Cricket and Conspiracy, which was awarded the William Hill Sports Book of the Year and was accompanied by Paul Yule’s RTS award-winning documentary Not Cricket—The Basil D’Oliveira Conspiracy.

Personal life

He was married to Naomi, and their son Damian D’Oliveira also played first-class cricket for Worcestershire, while his younger brother Ivan played briefly for Leicestershire. His grandson Brett D’Oliveira is currently contracted with Worcestershire and made his debut for the county in 2011.

For more on Dolly’s career, click here