The Moment of Heartbreak
London, Thursday - Basil D'Oliveira was completely broken when he heard the news yesterday of his omission. He had just come off the field after scoring 128 for Worcestershire against Sussex and was listening to the radio in the dressing room with other members of the Worcestershire team. When the 15 names were announced Tom Graveney took him into a room near by and talked alone.
D'Oliveira said little before breaking down. He tried to compose himself sufficiently just to say that he had no statement to make apart from being bitterly disappointed.
But he could control his feelings and had to ask a friend to make the statement on his behalf.
When he reached his home after being given permission to leave the ground early, his seven-year-old son, Damian, ran towards the car.
He saw his father's face and said: "Never mind, dad, you are still the greatest."
D'Oliveira said after reaching his home: "I need a good period of quiet before I think too deeply about things."
Earlier, at the ground, after the team had been announced, there were shouts of "Shame, where is D'Oliveira," from the crowd.
The South African Non-Racial Open Committee for Olympic Sports (Sanroc) is to hold a meeting at Caxton Hall, Westminster, on September 13 to discuss racial discrimination in sport. There will be a special reference to "the responsibility of British sport administrators."
The two thousand spectators at the Worcester ground, where Dolly is a great favourite, received the announcement of his omission over the loudspeakers in complete silence. Like the players they were stunned and baffled that his name was missing from the 15 read out.
Mr. Joe Lister, the Worcestershire secretary, said: "That Basil has not been chosen for the tour of South Africa is quite the most astounding piece of news I have ever heard.
"We have been told all along that the best side available would be chosen and internal politics would not be brought into it. His form in the series has made his omission from the second, third and fourth tests all the more mystifying and I know he has established the claim to tour second to none.
"It is hard to believe the real reason is his form."
A spokesman for the M.C.C. selectors said they had "an extremely difficult" job in deciding to drop D'Oliveira but the decision was taken "definitely purely on his cricketing ability."
Mr. Cyril Smith, the Worcestershire chairmen, commented: "Many of us are deeply shocked that D'Oliveira is not picked for the tour. It is most regrettable."
Mr. Jim Baker, chairman of the Sussex Cricket Club committee, declared: "I cannot think of any greater injustice that to omit D'Oliveira."
Emblazoned across the front page of every national newspaper in Britain today are stories of the dropping of the man who earlier this week enabled England to draw the test series against the Australians.
In most reports the suggestion is made that South Africa's race policies and not form were the deciding factor.
See an image of the original report.