England great D'Oliveira dies

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Basil D'Oliveira

Basil D'Oliveira, who has died at the age of 80, scored 2,484 runs at an average of 40 in 44 Tests

South Africa-born former England all-rounder Basil D'Oliveira has died at the age of 80.

D’Oliveira, whose health had been deteriorating for some time, scored 2,484 runs at an average of 40 in 44 Tests, and also picked up 47 wickets.

He 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.

D'Oliveira had moved to England at the urging of cricket commentator John Arlott due to the lack of opportunities for him in his homeland.

Damian D’Oliveira, who followed his father in playing cricket for Worcestershire and is the county’s academy director, said: “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."

Worcestershire skipper Daryl Mitchell added: “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 (who signed a one-year contract with the county in August).

“But he wasn’t just a cricketer and, with the apartheid battle, he had a huge impact on thousands and thousands of people.

“I’ve watched the films and read what he had to go through in his early days and it brought tears to my eyes.”

International Cricket Council chief executive Haroon Lorgat said: “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.

“Basil was a man of great humility whose dignity impressed everyone when he found himself at the centre of one of cricket’s most infamous episodes. His improper exclusion from the England tour of his native South Africa in 1968 was to have a profound and lasting effect on those involved in the struggle against a discriminatory regime.

“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.

Haroon Lorgat

International Cricket Council chief executive Haroon Lorgat said: "Basil was a man of great humility whose dignity impressed everyone."

“On the field he had a great cricket brain and his career figures demonstrate that – even though he did not make his Test debut until he was in his mid-30s. It is fitting that his memory will live on through the Basil D’Oliveira Trophy which is played for between South Africa and England in Test series. The series next year will have even more meaning.

“I wish to extend my personal condolences and that of the ICC to the family and friends of Basil. We will all mourn his passing away.”

Cricket South Africa chief executive Gerald Majola added his tribute.

Majola said:"'Dolly', as he was known around the world by an audience that went far beyond the game of cricket, 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."

"The fact that he could have a Test career batting average of 40 in 44 Tests and an economy rate of less than two with the ball on his way to 47 wickets was remarkable considering he was past his prime when he made his debut for England in his mid-30s.

"One can only imagine what he might have achieved had he made his debut as he should have done at the age of 20 on South Africa's tour of England in 1951.

"I would like to pay tribute also to all those people in England, notably John Arlott, one of the greatest cricket radio commentators of all time, for the roles they played in making it possible for Basil to achieve his dream of playing international cricket for his adopted country.

"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.

"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.

"On behalf of the CSA family I would like to convey our sympathies to his family and salute them on a life well lived."

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