Basil D'Oliveira emerged from the backstreets of apartheid-era Cape Town to exert a fundamental influence on the course of international cricket and of South African society. Trapped in the segregated black leagues in South Africa during the apartheid years, he was picked to play for England in 1966 at age 34. He represented his adopted country until he was 40 and represented Worcestershire in county cricket until age 49, scoring 19,490 runs and claiming 551 wickets as a bowler.
His success became a challenge to the apartheid system when, in 1968, he was selected to play for England on a tour of the country of his birth. The South African government refused D'Oliveira entry, prompting cancellation of the tour and giving rise to one of cricket's greatest political dramas. The "D'Oliveira Affair" had a massive impact in turning international opinion against apartheid, eventually prompting changes in South African sport and, ultimately, broader society. D'Oliveira's experience confirmed that there could be no normal sport in an abnormal society; the struggle for nonracial sport became an integral part of our broader struggle for a nonracial and democratic South Africa.
Manuel is South Africa's Minister in the Presidency for National Planning
Next Lawrence Eagleburger