Basil D'Oliveira 1931-2011

'A flagship for all those who despised apartheid'

ESPNcricinfo staff

November 19, 2011

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Tributes for the South Africa-born former England allrounder Basil D'Oliveira, who has died in England, aged 80


Basil D'Oliveira, May 1, 1972
'The story of Basil shows the courage and feistiness of people who were excluded during the aparthied era.' Paul McGregor / © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
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"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."
D'Oliveira's son Damian

"My memories are of a very good player, who was cheerful, friendly and unassuming. He was also quite brave. He was a shrewd cricketer, a good catcher and a very useful extra bowler who would swing the ball. Ray Illingworth used to use him as an extra bowler; he appealed to him because he filled in gaps and wouldn't give too many runs away. I can remember reading a book of tours that Ray was captain of and how often he turned to Basil. I never saw him in any other way than as a friendly cricketing colleague who enjoyed the game.''
Former England captain Mike Brearley

"He will always remain a giant in the transformation of South African sport. He showed conclusively that blacks in South Africa, given the same opportunity as whites, had that ability, talent and potential to become international stars. It is sad that he could never play for his country of birth. There is no question that in the 21st century he would have played for South Africa, which I'm sure would have been his first choice."
Ali Bacher, the former South Africa captain and chief executive of the United Cricket Board of South Africa

"When I was growing up in South Africa, Basil was a revered personality in 'non-white' cricketing circles. At the time his influence and his legacy in a divided South Africa stretched way beyond the cricket field. While he never regarded himself as such, he was a hero to a generation of disenfranchised South Africans. Today I can recall with even greater respect how he served as a role model showing that despite the odds, underprivileged South Africans like myself can rise to the top."
ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat

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

"Basil D'Oliveira was more than just a cricketer. He personified the bravery and determination of the South African people's struggle against apartheid, and his own remarkable achievements, starting a Test career at 34, an age when most players are considering retirement, showed the world just what he and his people could accomplish."
ECB chairman Giles Clarke

"We are just finishing a book on our [Western Province's] 121-year history and the story of Basil is central in that. It shows the huge waste of human potential that happened during the aparthied era and the courage and feistiness of people who were excluded at that time. They created rich cultures that we are benefiting from today."
Andre Odendaal, the chief executive of Western Province cricket and a cricket historian

"A few Soweto Cricket Club players that have read his biography, in our small library at the Soweto Cricket Oval and marvel at Basil's vision. He achieved great feats irrespective of the adversity he faced back in the 1950's. During the historic first 1995 SCC tour of England, Ireland and Wales, the late great Khaya Majola broke down after reading a letter from Basil d'Oliviera to the touring party. In the letter Basil pointed out the plight of black cricketers, deprived of opportunity in South Africa and encouraged the players on tour not to give up on their dreams and hopes of playing first-class cricket."
Gordon Templeton, chairman, Soweto Cricket Club

"It's terrible news to me because Basil was one of the my best friends. I can remember saying 'If he doesn't go, I'm not going,' because we were such great friends and he'd done everything to go and get back into the team, so it was politics I'm afraid. It was very sad."
Former Worcestershire and England player Tom Graveney on his team-mate and the 1968 tour to South Africa

"From a county point of view, he was a massive part of the club's history and his family name lives on through Damian and grandson Brett."
Worcestershire captain Daryl Mitchell

"He became a flagship for all those who despised the whole concept of apartheid. Basil D'Oliveira's influence helped to usher in a world where apartheid was consigned to the dustbin."
Pat Murphy, who wrote D'Oliveira's autobiography 'Time to Declare'

"He was somebody who just carried himself in a very dignified way, despite all the pressures whirling around him. Somebody who became much loved in the English cricket world as a result and yet somebody who, in his own quiet, modest and unassuming way, became the symbol of what was wrong with apartheid South Africa."
Peter Hain, England's former Labour minister and anti-apartheid campaigner

"His is the example I use when people tell me sport and politics should never mix. Sport can have huge political influence in the right situation."
The BBC's Jonathan Agnew

"History may well decide that the lives of millions of non-white South Africans would have been made wretched for even longer but for Basil d'Oliveira."
Scyld Berry, writing in the Daily Telegraph

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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