Basil d'Oliveira dies

London - Former England all-rounder Basil D'Oliveira, who ended up playing for his adopted country after seeing his path blocked in his native apartheid-era South Africa, has died at the age of 80.

D'Oliveira, who represented English county Worcestershire between 1964 and 1980 and will be fondly remembered for his trademark flamboyance with the bat, died in England after a long battle with Parkinson's disease.

"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," said D'Oliveira's son, Damian.

D'Oliveira made headlines in 1968 when he was included in the England squad for the tour of South Africa which had to be called off as the South African government refused to accept his presence.

The incident marked the start of South Africa's cricketing isolation, which would last through until the early 1990s.

Cricket South Africa chief executive Gerald Majola led the tributes to D'Oliveira, known as 'Dolly', saying he was a "true legend and a son of whom all South Africans can be extremely proud".

"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," Majola said.

D'Oliveira starred in Cape Town club cricket in his home country but found his path to the top of the game blocked in apartheid-era South Africa.

He moved to England at the urging of cricket commentator John Arlott and fought his way through the ranks to earn a place in the national side, where he went on to shine on the international stage after making his debut in 1966 at the age of 34.

He scored 2,484 runs at an average of 40, and took 47 wickets in 44 Tests.

His most famous innings saw him score 158 against Australia at The Oval in the 1968 Ashes, a tally that should have sealed his place in the tour of South Africa that would never take place.

He was initially left out of the side after pressure was exerted by the South African authorities, but after he was called in due to an injury to Tom Cartwright, the tour had to be cancelled.

"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," said Majola.

"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.

* Basil d’Oliveira is honoured in the trophy that bears his name that the Proteas squad and England compete for in every Test series between the two countries. The Proteas have held the trophy since 2008.


 
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