England in South Africa 2004-05

D'Oliveira honoured by South Africa

Wisden Cricinfo staff

August 18, 2004

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Basil D'Oliveira: honoured by South Africa © Getty Images
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The former England allrounder, Basil D'Oliveira, will be honoured in the country of his birth when England tour South Africa for a five-Test series later this year.

D'Oliveira, a Cape Coloured, was born and raised in South Africa, but was denied the chance to play for his country because of Apartheid. Now, however, 36 years after his selection for England's Test series in South Africa led to the cancellation of the tour and ultimately the suspension of all sporting relations with South Africa, his name will be on the trophy for which the two sides will be competing.

The inaugural Basil D'Oliveira Trophy will be presented at Centurion in January to the winners of the series, and will be contested in all subsequent England tours to South Africa. "The naming of this trophy after Basil D'Oliveira is to bring acknowledgement of his considerable contribution to cricket, at a time when he was not given the proper recognition in the country of his birth," said Gerald Majola, the chief executive of the United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA).

Majola added that it was the UCBSA's intention to empower and recognise those people who were excluded from official cricket during that era. "He will now be remembered every time South Africa and England meet in Test matches in South Africa, as will all those many cricketers who were made nameless through racial discrimination."

It is the latest, and greatest, accolade that has so far been bestowed on D'Oliveira, who is now 72. At last year's World Cup, he led the parade at the opening ceremony in Newlands, a ground that he was never allowed to play on in his time as a cricketer.

In 1960, he left for England where he joined Worcestershire, and went on to play 44 Tests for England, averaging 40.06 with the bat, and taking 47 wickets at 39.55. By then, however, he was well into his thirties. What he might have achieved had he earned international recognition at a younger age, can only be imagined.

In 1968, with the political clouds gathering ahead of England's tour to South Africa, he was recalled for the final Ashes Test at The Oval, and scored 158, only to discover he had been omitted from the final party. There was a storm of protest at the decision, and when Tom Cartwright withdrew through injury, the selectors were obliged to turn to him. That was too much for the South African government, who refused to accept the team.

The South African prime minister, John Vorster, denounced the selection as overtly political, and shortly afterwards the tour was cancelled, after which South Africa entered more than a quarter of a century of international sporting isolation.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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