Offer to Basil - R80,000.00
LONDON - Basil D'Oliveira has spoken for the first time of his innermost feelings when he was "approached to make himself unavailable" for the 1968 tour of South Africa.
In a 45-minute B.B.C talk with Ian Wooldridge and Dick Knight the Cape Coloured England cricketer also told why he wanted 'desperately' to visit South Africa as a member of the M.C.C., and what he felt about the future.
The interview, which will be broadcast only from British Forces broadcasting stations abroad, probably next week, was played over in London yesterday for pressmen.
D'Oliveira said he was offered a large sum which he could have, then and there, or scattered over a number of years.
"The idea was that I should go out there and coach. And the main fact was that I had to announce that I was ready to accept and make myself not available for selection.
"At the time, I must admit I thought about it. No man in his right mind is going to turn down that amount of money."
Interview: Are you prepared to say how much?
D'Oliveira: "Yes, it was in the region of R80 000. No man is going to turn that down. You know you are secure - you're fixed up for life, and all this."
He had turned to Mr. Reg Hayter, a cricket correspondent who was his agent, for advice.
"He wouldn't even entertain the idea. He said 'I'm not even interested. I don't want to know. If you even consider something like this... forget about it altogether.'
"He said the side had not been selected. There was still the final test match and I did not know what could happen between now and then.
"And that same day the announcement came through that they were looking for me to play in the test match."
He realized, after Tom Cartwright had dropped out of the M.C.C side and had been brought in, whether there would be the "colossal international row" that followed.
D'Oliveira: "No, I thought at the time I would be accepted. I thought they would accept the side. I think if it had been anybody else - if it had been a West Indian, or an Indian or a Pakistani, or an Aborigine or a Maori - they would have accepted him.
"I think I was too close to home... it was too near to home for them to accept me as a member of the team."
Everything that had happened since he first came to England to play in Lancashire league cricket he regarded as a "bonus in life." He had come to England to do what he had done and the rest was a bonus he had been given - and he was grateful for it.
Speaking emotionally, D'Oliveira said people such as he, knew the lack of opportunity in South Africa for non-Whites. "You know the fact that you are a second-class citizen.
"You know this: You're there and you are going to be kept there. And then you come away and you prove all this wrong. You prove the whole blooming thing wrong."
Speaking of his motive in wanting to tour South Africa, he said: "I wanted to go there, mix in that community with the England side and come away leaving a doubt in the minds of the people I met.
"My behaviour was going to be impeccable. I wasn't going to put a foot wrong for anyone or anything. I was going to make certain that I was going to leave so much doubt in the minds of the White population."
D'Oliveira was asked how many non-Whites in South Africa were close to playing international test cricket.
Out of contact
He replied: "I should imagine that there is probably one good enough at this stage to make the side. But I speak under correction here because I have been out of contract.
"My argument, however, is not for today. It's now what we have got now. It's for the next 10 or 15 years. I reckon that if we start now with the same conditions and exactly the same chances as the White cricketers, we can comprise half the side in about 15 years time. Or even sooner."
Interview: Would you then go back and live in South Africa?
D'Oliveira: "If there was a chance that the non-Whites had a chance of playing for South Africa and being selected, I would go back and endeavour to make them good enough to play."
Interviewer: Do you think we shall see a solution to the problems that we have been talking about in South Africa?
D'Oliveira: "I don't think I shall see it in my lifetime. I think it will take a lot longer if it goes my way. If it goes the other way, it will be a lot sooner."
Asked if he could do anything to prevent this, he said: "I am a great believer in this business of one door opening and the other shutting. I don't want to create these openings for myself."
See the original report: Page 1. Page 2.