Basil D'Oliviera

Cricket's lost son

4 October 1931- 19 November 2011
Artist: Donovan Ward
Location: Newlands, Campground Road, Cape Town
Designed by Cape Town artist Donovan Ward, the memorial commemorating Basil D’Oliveira’s legacy is bolted to a wall outside Newlands, where the gifted cricketer never got to play.
Picture: Craig Mathews, Doxa © South African History Archive

On August 28 1968, the England selectors met at Lord's cricket ground to choose a side for the 1968/69 tour to South Africa. Among the in-form batsmen almost certain of selection was the black Cape Town-born Basil D'Oliveira, who, excluded from first class cricket in his own country, had moved to the United Kingdom in 1960. To an outcry in Britain and jubilation among apartheid's supporters, D'Oliveira was not picked. When he later joined the side, the South African Government was outraged and the tour was cancelled, triggering events that sealed South Africa's sporting isolation for the next 25 years.

From The Archives
Cricket on Cape Town's Mean Streets
An extract from D'Oliviera's autobiography, describing his earliest experiences as a young cricketer.
Home Away from Home
D'Oliviera's account of his days at Middleton.
A Nudge and a Wink
In these extracts from his autobiography, Basil D’Oliveira tells the story of his dealings with a seemingly shady South African businessman who tried to bribe him out of being in the running for the England tour to South Africa.
Offer to Basil - R80,000.00
An article from The Star, 1969, describing the 1968 attempt to bribe him to withdraw from consideration for the England team.
The Moment of Heartbreak
Basil D’Oliveira was "heartbroken" when he was omitted from the 1968 MCC England team to South Africa. Transcript of the article from The Star.
Life Stories
Knocking Apartheid for Six
Basil D’Oliveira was born in the Bo-Kaap and lived for cricket. But because he was not "white", he was never to play at Newlands, the home of South African cricket.
One Man, One Big Boycott
In 1968, Prime Minister John Vorster took a decision that exiled a talented South African batsman and plunged the country into two decades of sporting isolation.
Basil D’Oliveira dies at the age of 80
Basil struggled with Parkinson's disease for a while and eventually succumbed to death on November 19, 2011. He was still living in the UK with his family.
Making the Memorial
Who is Donovan Ward?
SOUTH African artist Donovan Ward was born in 1962 and lives and works in Cape Town. His artist’s statement outlines his interest in the "diversity of African experience".
The light bulb moment: The artist’s concept
The notion of sports breaking down boundaries to change the system is what informed Donovan's concept for this piece.
"A black man can't be a white man during a day's sport, then revert to being a black man."
Basil D'Oliviera
Basil D'Oliviera, 1966
Picture © Sunday Times


Editorials: historical opinions and arguments

In this lesson plan, learners will become familiar with the concept of an editorial. They will be encouraged to identify the writer's opinion, and to follow the development of her/his arguments.

Lesson plan
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Archive Photo Gallery
Spotlight on a reluctant hero: Basil D’Oliveira in action on the field and in top hat and tails at Buckingham Palace.
Take a 360° tour of the memorial site on Campground Road in Newlands, Cape Town.
Basil D'Oliviera - Lost son of South African Cricket
Features footage of the 1968 England-Australia test, and of BJ Vorster explaining why D’Oliveira could not play in his own country.