Former England all-rounder Basil D'Oliveira dies

England all-rounder Basil D'Oliveira

Former England all-rounder Basil D'Oliveira has died at the age of 83.

Born in South Africa, he moved to England in 1960 because of the lack of opportunities for non-white players.

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Biographer remembers courageous D'Oliveira

In 1968 he was named in England's squad to tour South Africa which was then cancelled as the ruling National Party refused to accept his presence.

D'Oliveira played county cricket for Worcestershire between 1964-80 and represented England in 44 Tests, scoring 2,484 runs at an average of 40.

The headlines made by D'Oliveira in 1968 marked the start of South Africa's sporting isolation.

After being added to the England squad as a replacement for the injured Tom Cartwright the South African government made it clear a 'Cape coloured' would not be welcome.

The tour was called off and the incident culminated in a ban on sporting ties with South Africa which would last until the early 1990s.

Cricket South Africa chief executive Gerald Majola paid tribute to the man fondly called 'Dolly', whose health had been deteriorating for some time leading up to his death in England as he battled Parkinson's disease.

"He was a man of true dignity and a wonderful role model as somebody who overcame the most extreme prejudices and circumstances to take his rightful place on the world stage," said Majola.

"The circumstances surrounding his being prevented from touring the country of his birth with England in 1968 led directly to the intensification of opposition to apartheid around the world and contributed materially to the sports boycott that turned out to be an Achilles heel of the apartheid government.

"Throughout this shameful period in South Africa's sporting history, Basil displayed a human dignity that earned him worldwide respect and admiration.

"His memory and inspiration will live on among all of us. On behalf of the CSA family I would like to convey our sympathies to his family and salute them on a life well lived."

D'Oliveira's age was the subject of some conjecture - as explained by BBC Radio 5 live's Pat Murphy, who co-authored his autobiography 'Time to Declare'.

Murphy said: "Basil had to lie about his age because he thought if they realised how old he was they would not pick him for England.

"So he came down from born in 1935 at that time, solidifying his place in the team as 1933 born and when I wrote his book in 1980 he finally conceded he was born in 1928. By my calculation, he was 38 when he first played for England in 1966 and 83 when he died."

Worcestershire honoured him in 2003 by naming a new stand after him at their New Road ground.

Already an OBE, in 2005 he was awarded the CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours. Another honour was afforded him when the D'Oliveira Trophy was inaugurated as the prize for when England meet South Africa in a Test series.

D'Oliveira's son Damian played county cricket for Worcestershire, between 1982 and 1995, and is still on the coaching staff at New Road.

In August his grandson Brett, a leg-spinner, also signed for Worcestershire on a one-year contract.

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