'Dolly', man who sparked Springbok cricket ban, dies
Published 20/11/2011 | 05:00
BASIL D'Oliveira, the much-loved cricketer who was unwittingly cast into the role of nemesis of apartheid South Africa, has died at age 80.
The former England all-rounder passed away after a long battle with Parkinson's disease, his son Damian said.
The warmth in which 'Dolly' was held was evident in the tributes paid to him yesterday, as was his part in one of sport's biggest controversies. Born a South African 'Cape coloured', D'Oliveira would have an impact comparable with America's Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
"He will remain a giant in the transformation of South African sport," Dr Ali Bacher, the former head of South African cricket, told the BBC.
D'Oliveira had become a top player in England when an accident of history put him centre stage in 1968. Initially he was left out of the England squad to tour South Africa under pressure from that country's white minority government. Then another player pulled out injured, meaning D'Oliveira would be selected to tour his homeland after all.
South Africa, however, was having none of it. Negotiations broke down; the tour was cancelled. 'The D'Oliveira affair' had exposed South Africa to the world as a racist state. More than two decades of sporting isolation followed, ending only in 1991 after the release of Nelson Mandela.