This film tells the full story of the D'Oliveira scandal, explaining the critical political role that cricket played in bringing about the fall of apartheid in South Africa.
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That's the way, four runs.
Not a bad chance, I think, for everybody to meet England's latest cap - Basil D'Oliveira.
APPLAUSE Hello, we got a crowd round here.
Very soon you get the idea of what the people in these parts think
of Basil D'Oliveira and his cricket for Worcestershire and England.
This is the cricketing story of a lifetime, it tells of how one man and one innings lead ultimately
to the downfall of a brutal political regime.
The political fall-out from that innings resonates to this day.
Tell us about your family in Cape Town.
I don't think there is much to tell, our particular family is cross-bred
between Portuguese and South African.
That's a fine shot. That was a good stroke and it is four runs.
He's played a magnificent innings.
That innings, made in 1968, made an overwhelming case
for D'Oliveira's inclusion in the forthcoming England tour of South Africa.
The problem for the selectors was that he was racially classified
as coloured in South Africa and was therefore forbidden from playing with whites.
Indeed, D'Oliveira had been forced to leave the country of his birth
and change his nationality in order to play Test cricket at all.
Our policy is one which is called by an Afrikaans word - apartheid,
and I am afraid that has been misunderstood so often.
It could just as easily and perhaps much better be described
as a policy of good neighbourliness -
accepting that there are differences between people.
It was that racist policy which D'Oliveira's cricketing genius would fundamentally challenge.
Basil D'Oliveira, now aged 72, has returned to Cape Town for the Cricket World Cup in South Africa.
What's the score - I can't see that far.
For the black man he is a hero to us.
Today we can say we can be proud because of Basil D'Oliveira.
-We are sitting with him watching the World Cup.
Because his 158 against Australia changed the path of history.
The end of a really superb innings from D'Oliveira.
-As you walked back to the pavilion at the Oval...
-..that was what you were thinking?
Yes. I'm in again, I'm here.
I've got to be picked.
That innings placed the English cricket selectors in the eye of a political storm.
And when you come to select the side to go to South Africa will you allow
yourself to be influenced by anything except purely cricketing considerations?
No, we've got to sit down in about 45 minutes' time, in fact,
and pick the best team in England which will beat South Africa.
And then the plot began to unfold.
I was set up - they had that golden opportunity.
Only now is Basil D'Oliveira able to tell the full story of the scandal
which led ultimately to the fall of apartheid - a plot that implicates
the politicians and sports administrators alike in one of the great betrayals of modern sport.
The story begins in the backstreets of Cape Town.
And how did your cricket start?
Like most people, you take a bat and a ball,
you use sticks for wickets or a tin can and away you go, you play.
Basil D'Oliveira was born in 1931, the son of a tailor, and he grew up
in the Bokaap on the slopes of Signal Hill below Table Mountain.
It is that one.
I have come back.
Everything evolved around the word called sport,
soccer or cricket, those were the two main sports we thrived on.
At 4 o'clock we all meet in the street and that is when the game starts taking place.
And that wall, that is still there today, that was a practice wall
for throwing balls and taking catches.
-So this is the post you would play against?
-When you were a schoolboy?
-I smashed everybody.
At that stage he was already making a ransom, played street cricket,
windows on both sides so you must always play straight.
Six over this wire, that would be a six, that'll be a four.
That one up there would be sixes - a big hit!
People of all different races, different allegiances stayed in the same ground.
In 1948 the National Party is elected in one of the most significant political developments
in South African history because the National Party after that election
which establishes apartheid.
'48, '49, '50 had passed the major legislation which separates
the entire population according to race and which basically takes away
from all black and non-white people what few rights they previously enjoyed.
Dr HF Verwoerd, Minister of Native Affairs, later Prime Minister, left nothing to chance.
For the whites of South Africa, apartheid brought an affluent way of life and great prosperity.
D'Oliveira himself was 17 when apartheid was introduced.
Though light-skinned, his family was classified coloured
and so the world into which he had been born was utterly changed.
The white area is over there and the coloured area is over there.
'And this racial classification even had an impact on the young D'Oliveira's cricket.'
You shouldn't be on the street at night, playing cricket under the lamp post was not allowed by law.
He went just whap - down,
opened the Black Mariah, boom, and locked it up.
For non-whites, everyday life was rigidly controlled by the new nationalist government.
Because the colour of your skin is black, if you are over 16,
you had to have a special identity card called a passport
and if you didn't have it with you, you would be arrested.
We were all petrified of them, the whole bloody lot, all of us.
They were very aggressive people.
In order to play cricket,
I had to move from here.
Let's walk around there and I will show you where.
Over there, behind them.
He said that's just not right.
These people aren't better than us and I said, "Bugger them, we will get in there one day."
And we did, in a big way.
The powerful weapon D'Oliveira would use to bring about change was the cricket bat.
In the 1950s, as a young man ambitious to become a top sportsman,
he would run daily to the summit of Signal Hill overlooking Cape Town.
-So this was freedom for you.
-Yes absolutely, complete freedom, this was mine.
This was where you dreamt your dreams.
Yes, I will get there, I will get there.
Apartheid meant organised sport was rigidly segregated,
and not just between blacks and whites.
In our sport, the Indians played separately,
the Malays played separately,
the Coloureds played separately and the Bantus played separately.
We had our own social apartheid.
The Muslims wanted nothing to do with the Coloureds and the Coloureds wanted nothing to do
with the blacks, although we would say hello to one another, they had their sport and we had our sport.
I loved it, I adored cricket.
I would drive myself on to make certain we would have a game of cricket.
Nothing was going to stop me from having a game of cricket.
We played at Green Point, that was our home ground, but with no facilities at all.
Nobody offered us anything here.
It was a piece of ground with gravel, no grass at all, all stone.
Used to come here on a Saturday afternoon, Sunday afternoon.
Anything between 12 and 15 clubs played cricket at Green Point.
-But this was THE ground?
-The ground. This was the famous one.
This is where Basil Wooton and I played and broke,
at times, possibly every record that's been broken in the book.
St Augustine's was a club for Christian Coloureds and D'Oliveira's father was captain.
He taught me the fairness and honesty of the game,
how I should play, how hard you should try, never give up.
You are very gifted,
please don't spoil it.
He learned his cricket on rough dirt tracks.
My father and I would cut out a pitch, and roll it, water it,
you carry it
and you get to where you are now and you drop it and then you have to roll it out.
We get all the boulders, stones, then prove to me how good you are.
Dangerous it might be, but you might get a game out of it.
That's what we learnt on.
You can see the obstacles
that confronted this man and he still made it to the top.
In 1956 the notorious treason trial began.
Opponents of the apartheid regime were rounded up and prosecuted.
It was four years before Nelson Mandela and 150 other dissidents were found not guilty.
Whilst we were growing up in the cricketing fraternity, Basil was creating a name for himself
but only the coloured newspapers would carry Basil's scores in other towns.
Basil takes another seven wickets, Basil scores another five goals and so forth.
Two or three uncles of mine have played against him and they said
he was a genius, there has never been a non-white cricketer like him.
I saw him only a few times, one was 1953 in the finals, magnificent,
hard-hitting, they had to bend their hands, he hit the ball so hard.
He was commanding with effortless superiority.
He was the Bradman of non-white cricket in South Africa.
He once scored a double century in only one hour.
28 sixes and five fours or something, it is ridiculous.
He was a run-making machine.
In an eight-ball over he hit the chap for seven sixes and one four.
D'Oliveira's exploits on the cricket field made him an inspiration to his community.
And we can look at about 3,000 or 4,000 people at the match.
Cricket was a social force - a social glue which gathered people together on a weekend.
People would go all out, they would pack their picnic baskets, the women
would come on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon with all the food
and everything would be laid out. It wasn't just the game that counted, it was the social occasion,
and of course cricket lasts all day, not like football,
or rugby, where often after 90 minutes people go home. You have a long time to socialise.
Here's the bowler coming in now.
-Are you local?
What is your job in the team then?
Batsman, number four.
What was your score?
-101, not out.
-A hundred man!
That is good news.
Easy, isn't it.
-What is your highest score?
-Sure, against who?
And for the international?
-Against what country?
More than 50 years on, D'Oliveira remains a legend at St Augustine's.
Good to see you, take care of yourself.
Mr D'Oliveira, we would like a photo of you and us ladies,
can we take one?
Look, we all knew what the laws of the land were.
On Sundays, the best of the black players would play against the best
-of the white players, although it was illegal. But they nevertheless did it.
-All the whites we played against.
We would hide behind grounds to keep it away from the police, and we'd pray the police wouldn't stop it.
These matches were stopped, they couldn't play against one another
and I must say that our boys did well against the white clubs.
-Were you ever allowed to play on the white ground?
-Only when they invited us...and you had to be thankful.
Small mercies, but you're thankful for it.
This great cricketer left school at 16 to work in the printing trade.
When I knew Basil, he was 18 years old, he was a Grade II machine minder.
If you were a Grade I machine minder you had a white skin.
Everybody loved him for what he was and he was so good as a cricketer, he was a natural.
If Basil came to bat,
we were all, how would I say... subdued,
knowing here comes a man that can score runs.
He'd take command of a situation, that was his determination.
From the first ball,
he could tear you apart, he could pierce the field,
put the ball through the gaps.
But while D'Oliveira was the most gifted cricketer of his generation the tragedy is that in his prime,
his colour meant he could never be selected to play for his own country.
Beautiful to watch him play, isn't it?
Great shot. Great shot.
D'Oliveira's sporting achievements embodied the hopes of a non-white majority in South Africa.
My proudest moment would have been when I saw Basil come out with a cricket bat out of that pavilion
which he deserved.
The law, however, prohibited it.
Instead of playing, he was only allowed to watch Test cricket at Newlands,
-and even that from the Coloured enclosure.
-That's class, man.
We sat on the right-hand side between Z and Y.
We could only sit there a little bit. That was known as the cage.
-It was fenced off and we could only sit there.
Make it look so easy, don't they?
In that area everyone was anti-South Africa and pro any visiting teams.
We supported any incoming teams, never South Africa.
You needed to bring them out of that area. Now today you come and watch this. Look, magnificent.
When they got him out, there was joy.
The fact is that D'Oliveira was a phenomenon during the 1950s,
scoring over 80 centuries in so-called non-white cricket.
In 1958 Basil was made captain of the first non-white South African cricket team.
The white men still only believe that they played cricket, no black ever played cricket.
He successfully led the tour to East Africa.
His non-white team played three unofficial Tests.
He was the captain of our side and we beat Kenya hands down here
and then we went to Kenya and we beat them there too.
During that period there were about eight or nine non-white cricketers
who would have made the South African side on merit. Basil would have kept the game on level.
He would have been greatly courageous
because 15 years of his life was taken away
because of the restrictions in this country.
All I need is a chance, give them the chance and then we will work out who is good, bad and indifferent.
I'm not saying we are the best or we should play for South Africa,
instead of the whites, but put us together in the same arena and we will find out.
In my book there is only one winner.
I would put him on par with Graham Pollock,
Barry Richards and himself as the three greatest batsmen we ever produced.
While he was scoring centuries, militant opposition to the racist regime was fermenting.
Now, D'Oliveira's ambition was to make cricket itself part of the political struggle.
After he had a taste of international cricket, having played against the Kenyans,
there were then plans to bring a West Indian side out.
The audacious idea was to bring the best side in the world to South Africa to play the non-whites.
We wanted to put our cricket on the map and then the world would know
that there were other cricketers other than the white cricketers.
That tour was cancelled and Basil wasn't happy because he wanted
to test himself against the best and that was the catalyst for him
-going to England because he realised there was no possibility for him to play international cricket.
D'Oliveira's life changed.
He married his childhood sweetheart Naomi,
but already in his late twenties, he was frustrated by apartheid
from realising his sporting potential and was forced to try and make a name for himself abroad.
"Dear Mr Arlott, being so keen to play cricket in the Lancashire League
"I cannot refrain from availing myself of your generosity."
It was the great cricket commentator John Arlott who changed his life.
There was a commentary on cricket on the radio and I would listen to it and this beautiful voice
came across, a full-bodied voice and you could see it coming at you.
You can't make 200 in an hour and take nine for two and not be either
a good batsman or a good bowler.
Arlott had women that didn't even know about cricket,
they used to leave their pots and food to just listen to his voice.
A convinced opponent of apartheid, Arlott was determined to help him.
The consequences were to detonate the biggest controversy in cricket history.
And the correspondence leading up to Dolly's immigration to England
is now among the most treasured letters
that survive in cricket written in that green ink. I saw them under the hammer at auction a few years ago.
In his own country he couldn't play first-class cricket.
He can prove himself as a top-class player, but just a few people like Alan Oakman, Peter Sainsbury
and Jim Gray looked at him and said he was good.
One of the white cricketers who played against D'Oliveira in Africa
was opening bowler Jack Bannister, now a cricket writer.
We had heard about this chap D'Oliveira but when he hit that second ball of mine for six
over extra cover, I thought well, here we go, let's see what happens, and he was dazzling.
Peter Walker just kept looking at me, raising his hands and saying what a genius.
The figures were good.
He had never had a chance in his own country, which was the desperate thing.
And because in his letters he seemed such a terribly nice chap.
They had to take it that he could play.
It took two years.
I think I owe everything I have to John Arlott, I think he started it all. He wrote to me one day.
I was in Cape Town in February 1960 and there was a letter from him
stating would I like to play in leagues as a professional.
I have an offer for you to play as a professional in England this summer.
At last, in 1960, Middleton, a Lancashire League club, had an unexpected vacancy
for a professional at the princely sum of £450 for the season.
This seems to me an opportunity you should seize -
will you please cable me your decision at the earliest possible moment.
The Middleton club have a meeting on Monday next.
What was your reaction, Naomi, when you picked up that letter?
I took it to Basil and I said, "It's all right, you can go - if it is a professional post in England,
"it's all right."
No money in the bank, no money in the pocket. Basil was married now.
You went to this bar at the Grand Hotel
in Cape Town and on that day in January 1960 this man gave you new hope.
I would have taken him to England by rowing boat rather than see him miss this great opportunity.
The voice of the man who made it possible for you to come to England.
He has made the same 8,000-mile journey from Cape Town, yes, he is here today. Your friend Benny Bansda!
Dear Mr Arlott, many many thanks for your letter received.
He was looking downhearted, was he?
Very. Basil was standing there with his hands holding his chin,
telling me he didn't have £5 next to his name and wanted to call the deal off.
-So what did you do?
-I told Basil, you take a walk, go home, write a letter to the people concerned
and leave the rest to me, and I will raise the money.
In the end between the three of us, Bannister, Adam and myself,
we decided to create a fundraising committee
to raise funds to at least keep him there for six months.
A lot of white and non-white cricketers helped me in the task and within a short period of time
we managed to raise £600 for Basil to go overseas.
Muslims, non-Muslims, white, black, yellow, all of them did their bit to see that Basil got overseas.
Why did you want him to go so much?
To open doors for the others.
The rest was now up to him.
But just as Basil's sporting career was taking off,
the political opposition in South Africa was deepening.
The police shot dead 69 people at Sharpville just days before D'Oliveira was to leave for England.
It was a turning-point and led directly to the ANC declaration of the armed struggle.
There are many people who feel that it is useless and futile for us
to continue talking about peace and non-violence against the government
whose reply is only savage attacks
on an unarmed and defenceless people.
The Arlott letters made clear that there was a political agenda right from the start.
I think asking him over here might change the sporting and political face of South Africa
which seems to me very worthwhile.
At the airport when I garlanded you, I said one thing - "Basil - go and represent us."
If you do well, we will do well.
You have today become a legend in South African sport and we are proud of you, Basil.
Thank you Benny Bansda.
The job was for him to try and establish a name for himself
in cricket and if he could do it then obviously someone else can do it.
"I've got to have a go."
28-year-old Basil D'Oliveira left South Africa in late March 1960.
On his shoulders he carried the hopes of the non-white community
that he could challenge apartheid by playing cricket, but he was amazed by what he found in England.
I have never seen a man so bewildered as Basil was that day.
"Mr D'Oliveira", a white man calling me Mr D'Oliveira, what the hell was going on?!
I took him along to see John Arlott and when we caught a train to Manchester I realised
how utterly confusing it was for him to be one day away from the racial segregation laws of South Africa.
I was frightened out of my bloody wits.
Once we were on the train he said, "Where do I sit?"
"Where do I eat?"
The whole train was full of whites - whites everywhere,
I said, "Christ Almighty, what's going on here?"
And John asked me if I was alright. I said "fine".
And we started getting correspondence from Basil.
I said, "I don't know how to play on these pitches, they are wet, damp,
"they have grass here. I don't know how to play on it."
You must have been very depressed.
-Of course I was.
-The first thing he's missing, he wants to come home.
It is bitterly cold, you can't hold the bat and you can't throw a ball,
it is like your finger is going to snap, there was a lot of negatives coming from Basil all the time.
And yet we were worried and said, "Please, God let him make it,
"he will be the forerunner to what is going to happen in the future."
Come on, nobody is going to help you, you've got to do it yourself, get up.
Alone in a Lancashire mill town, playing as a professional on turf
rather than matting wickets, it was some weeks before he made good.
I got 70-odd, and from then on I never looked back,
it just happened from there.
Just a simple little word from Eric Price to say let it come.
"Anyway, Mr Arlott, I am sailing for home today after a successful debut in the leagues."
Returning to Cape Town after a first brilliant season in Lancashire, he was given a hero's welcome.
Already D'Oliveira's cricket abroad was a thorn in the side of the apartheid regime.
"The streets were lined with cheering crowds. Naturally the Boer - I hope you can pronounce
"the Afrikaans word, Mr Arlott - were aghast that a darkie could get such an ovation,
"and the opening created now for our coloured cricketers is all due to your efforts,
"for which I and all South African non-white cricketers will always be grateful.
"Could you please let me know when I will be allowed to play county cricket? I am interested."
John Arlott regarded what he was able to do for Basil D'Oliveira
as simply the greatest achievement of his life.
D'Oliveira became a British citizen in 1964.
And from then on, he established himself
for the Worcestershire side and then finally with England in 1966 and it was great to see how well he did.
He had been in England six years when he was selected to represent his adopted country.
I tell you, you could cry, it was an achievement.
Not being selected in your own country
and going to play for another country at his age and still make the English team,
it was the greatest thing. It was a great moment in our lives. It gave us motivation.
Even thinking about it now that I have been selected and played
-for England, it just seems like a dream to me.
-If Basil were to divulge at that time his real age,
he would not have played. You work out when he did play for England.
Though D'Oliveira told the selectors that he was 31,
he was in fact 34, an age when most sportsmen have already retired.
His England debut was made against the mighty West Indians. It was at Lord's, the home of cricket.
And I'm on the balcony. I had my England sweater on and I stood there and looked out and thought,
"amazing, I have done it. I have done it."
I had a little twinkle in my eye and I felt very sad and just stood there as I thought of my own people...
people on top of that hill, my friends, my family,
and the national government - that they gotta go.
You cannot get rid of me now. I am IN!
It was like putting the pie in the face of those that ruled.
They rejected the man,
they rejected all non-white sportsmen and here he came back and he proved to them -
I can represent a country, and I am representing England.
That is not bad, that mean something.
Unluckily run out for 27 in his first innings, he was nevertheless an immediate success.
In his second match he had four massive sixes off the formidable West Indian fast bowling attack.
He was a very attacking player.
I think he is the only player in the world
that has hit me for six.
How did you feel?
I was thinking, "Are you crazy?!"
He said if you bowl me another one I'll hit you again!
But in the words of CLR James, Basil D'Oliveira
destroyed the myth of the invincibility of the West Indian fast bowlers.
I don't know what happened but I know went over long-on,
and that was a big round and that is not funny!
Up to now he hasn't apologised.
No...! My most sincere apologies!
We were imagining all this, because I never saw a single innings of his since he went to England.
-How did you feel when he got his 88?
-I thought, "He is not only my schoolfriend..."
-His success was our success!
-It meant we are capable of going to the top.
That winter he was included in the MCC tour of the West Indies.
England needing one run for victory.
Gibbs comes in, bowls to D'Oliveira and he's played around the corner.
England have won a memorable victory!
A wonderful victory by seven wickets and probably two balls to go.
Just wondering, Basil,
what is going to happen in the possible event of your being selected for the MCC tour
of South Africa? This is something you must have thought about,
although obviously you wouldn't plan for because you can only take life as it comes.
I think at this stage I would prefer to take life as it comes.
If it comes about that I am still playing at that time,
and invited to join the side, I think I will then make a decision.
What it will be I don't know.
For D'Oliveira to play Test cricket
in the country of his birth would be the culmination of his boyhood dream.
For the MCC committee at Lord's, however, that question
of whether it was possible to select D'Oliveira,
an Englishman seen in South Africa as a Coloured,
for the forthcoming 1968 tour of South Africa was a time bomb waiting to explode.
It's important to remember that the D'Oliveira affair unfolds against
a background of unprecedented global political protest.
The culture of protest had spread in 1968 to every country in the world
and we have to remember earlier in 1968,
in the US, you see the assassination of Martin Luther King and huge, violent insurrections
in nearly all the black ghettos in the US, violently suppressed by the army.
You had the events in May of Paris '68. The government was nearly overthrown.
In August, you had the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.
Whether it was in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka,
Australia, and of course South Africa itself,
this was a year of huge political ferment - it was a year
in which young people of all kinds were out in the streets protesting over a wide number of issues.
And the D'Oliveira affair is, in a sense, the ripple
of that global tide of protest felt in the backwater of cricket.
Sport was so dear to white South Africa and for black people that didn't have the vote it was actually
a very important tool to lobby the outside world not to play against white South Africa,
and that played a major role in the demise of apartheid.
We whites in this country have a right to maintain our white identity under all circumstances.
The South African Prime Minister in 1968 was John Forster.
We have not only said that we have a right to maintain our white identity.
Under pressure he would take as aggressive a posture as necessary to maintain the status quo.
What you have to understand about Forster is that the one thing he couldn't accept
was the idea of Basil D'Oliveira coming over as a South African-born coloured as part of an England team.
This would not be accepted by his party.
He tried to ensure that D'Oliveira wasn't selected for the England team to tour South Africa,
but without stating publicly that D'Oliveira was not allowed.
We also say to the world, and it is necessary
at this stage to say it, that as far as South Africa is concerned,
we won't be governed from anywhere outside South Africa.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
The racism in South African cricket, far from being challenged,
had actually been accepted in white cricketing countries for a century.
South Africa played international cricket on its own terms.
South Africa said it would only played white countries
and it played countries it had historically played with - New Zealand, England and Australia.
At no time during all those decades did anyone from the MCC or the ICC
breathe the slightest objection
to South Africa's policy of refusing to play anyone but white nations.
The question is - would the English establishment which ran English cricket through the MCC from Lord's
now begin to plot with the South African authorities in an attempt
to save them from the embarrassment of D'Oliveira's presence in a touring team?
The MCC's role was not very glorious, it saw South Africa as its old friends
and saw no reason to exclude them.
We think that playing cricket can do nothing but good.
As far as the MCC was concerned South Africa was part of their cosy club world.
It is wrong to isolate South Africa, whose cricketers we all know
and respect, and they are very fine cricketers indeed, because of their government's policy.
It is not the Cricket Association policy - it is the government policy and they can do nothing about it.
With D'Oliveira, South Africa was presented with the problem of playing against a non-white cricketer
playing for one of his traditional countries. It objected to that and that in a way,
brought home to England what the problem of playing cricket with South Africa was.
Which it hadn't crystallised to that extent. It lead to the demonstrations and the protests and so on.
This was the late '60s, a time of a wakening.
The outgoing president of the MCC was Sir Alex Douglas-Home, former prime minister.
Home spoke to D'Oliveira about the prospect of his being selected for the South African tour.
I saw him via Colin Cowdrey.
Colin said, "I think you ought to go and see him - this is a huge political issue.
"It's not cricket any longer."
He said, "Basil, don't ever come off that cricket field."
-He was saying, don't get involved in politics.
You haven't got enough time. To play the game is hard enough.
So D'Oliveira, although the focus of attention, resolved to say nothing to the press in 1968
about his possible inclusion in the side to tour South Africa.
All I've got is that cricket bat, I've got nothing else.
I have nothing else, I have no position, no money, I'm with no-one,
I've only got that cricket bat.
Australia was in England during the summer of 1968.
When the side to tour South Africa was announced in the autumn,
D'Oliveira was determined he would be in it.
So I got 80 against the Aussies...
COMMENTATOR: 'D'Oliveira, calm judgment and controlled aggression.
'It seemed Pocock might stay with him while he got 100.
'But Gleeson killed that thought.'
I got to 87, and I played bloody well!
Though he was one of the few Englishmen to score runs,
D'Oliveira was inexplicably, it seemed, dropped by the selectors.
Do you remember why you decided to drop him?
-But there was this kind of background of...
I would refute that absolutely and totally.
If there has been any implication that people like Alec Bedser,
Don Kenyon, Les Ames... You know, apart from the toffee-nosed lot...
..had any motive other than picking a cricket team for England,
then, as far as I'm concerned, forget it.
It was a lousy three months for me, and for the other selectors.
All sorts of motives were implied.
And they were absolutely, totally wide of the mark.
D'Oliveira, no longer in the England team, returned to Worcester,
his county, and, as a bowler, topped the county averages.
But behind the scenes, the South African government
was plotting against him, as can now be revealed.
There was collaboration between the South African Cricket Association
and Vorster, to try and prevent D'Oliveira's selection.
D'Oliveira had at this point been dropped from the England team,
and the South Africans wanted to keep it that way.
In July, the attempt to bribe D'Oliveira was made,
to make himself unavailable.
D'Oliveira now received a call from a South African.
-Somebody offered you money not to go, didn't they?
-That was cooked up in Vorster's office.
He said, "You haven't played all that well this season.
"I see you're keen to coach.
"Maybe we could help."
The offer would be for D'Oliveira to come and coach in South Africa...
I said, "What do you mean, 'Maybe you can help?'"
He says, "We can produce the money to pay for you,
"your wife, your kids, to live in South Africa.
"Flat, house, the whole caboodle is yours.
"It looks as if you're not going to play for England again.
"Here, you've got a golden opportunity."
I said, "I've got to think about it."
He said, "Well, we'll offer you 50,000 quid."
The condition was that I should make myself unavailable for England.
-What did you say?
-I said, "I can't do that."
He said, "You've got nothing else!
They didn't realise what I was fighting, what I was after.
I had to get the thing back.
I want to be picked, I want to play for England, to go to South Africa.
Time was running out, as the last Test match of the summer approached.
-'High summer came to the cricketers
'for the Fifth Test at the Oval.'
At the 11th hour, Basil was picked.
It gave him the chance he needed.
The story is that I was picked for a Test with Australia at the Oval.
'Lawry lost the toss, and England batted on an amiable pitch.'
And I pulled out 24 hours, 48 hours before.
The next thing I heard, Bas had been picked in my place.
I thought, "I'm an opening batsman, he's a number five,
"and a seam bowler - interesting selection!"
He was a surprise choice, some say a provocative choice -
maybe we'll never know.
But if he'd not been chosen, there wouldn't have been howls of protest.
'Milburn announced himself thunderously...'
Immediately after this match,
the selectors would pick the team to tour South Africa.
John Edrich had scored 164. That was the platform
for the big England total that was necessary.
They could have fallen away, then, but Dolly came in about number six.
'As Thursday had been Edrich's day, so Friday was D'Oliveira's.
'He lifted England's scoring rate healthily and steadily
'with his own particular range of strokes.'
Basil D'Oliveira's innings, it was a typical Dolly performance.
-'There it is. Must be. It's a 100 to D'Oliveira!'
He'd play to go to South Africa with his life, Basil, no doubt about that.
He's want to go back and show them, that's what he'd be playing for.
That's probably why he did so well in that match.
"This is my last chance to make it onto that tour."
'A good stroke, and it's four runs...'
We said to ourselves, "That's put the cat amongst the pigeons."
'And that's a fine shot.'
I felt that no-one could stop me on that day.
I'm not a big-head, but nothing was going to stop me.
'Wickets fell at the other end, but D'Oliveira got enough of the bowling
'to play an innings of 158 before a full Oval ground.'
The crowd at the Oval, they sensed it, they felt it.
'What a good shot!'
It was his chance to prove that he was one of the great all-rounders.
Basil was a good player, he really was.
He had a very short backlift, very powerful forearms.
'That's a lovely shot, beautiful stroke.'
If you over-pitched it, as a spinner,
he'd just knock it back over your head, boom, like that - six.
'That's a fine square drive on the off side. It's going to be cut off.
'Two runs for D'Oliveira.'
He bowled the little dobblers to get a key wicket,
or... OUTBREAK OF APPLAUSE
he would play a key innings for you.
If ever there was a key innings, this was the one.
He was a natural cricketer.
You'll never see anyone quite like Dolly
in the manner of his stroke-play.
And England took some sort of hold on the game.
'..really superb innings from Basil D'Oliveira.
'I can't recall ever seeing him play better than this.
'Great value for this big crowd at the Oval today.'
-Has it bought him a ticket to South Africa?.
We were overjoyed, and we were all waiting
with our fingers like this, hoping they'd let him in to the country.
We could see one of our guys playing for England against South Africa.
-'And the captain avidly watching the play...'
I think it would have been a huge test for many, many people.
If I'm picked, the South African government will get the humiliation
of having to back me...
And that was the problem the MCC were trying to avoid.
'It's been a beautiful innings from Basil D'Oliveira.
'He's played some glorious strokes, all round the wicket.'
When he scored 150, we thought, "Now, they can't leave him out."
Everybody wanted him to come. A lot of whites also wanted him to come.
'..bowl to D'Oliveira... And it's his 150!
-'150 to D'Oliveira -
'his highest ever Test score - a wonderful innings, there's no doubt.
'Chosen at the last moment. Prideaux couldn't play,
'in came D'Oliveira and he's played this magnificent innings.'
It was a political thing. Now the government must open their ears
and their eyes and they must look at their laws now.
Here is a coloured man that could not play for South Africa
who has gone to England, qualified by residence, came back here
to play for England against the guys.
We are now going to support England, and pray that Basil will perform.
Everybody was waiting for that moment to happen.
-He's played so well today,
and written himself a ticket for South Africa in so doing.
One cannot overestimate how significant this innings was
in the bigger world outside cricket.
'Lawry, the left-hander...
'A good single, Illingworth having to hurry...'
Dolly must have thought that 158 had got him onto the aircraft
to tour the land of his upbringing, which would have been
extremely emotional for him and for other people.
-'It's well caught.
'A gentle sweep played by D'Oliveira and the ninth England wicket down.
'D'Oliveira out, caught Inverarity, bowled Mallett, for 158.'
-'The end of a superb innings from Basil D'Oliveira.
'And this huge crowd at the Oval all now standing up,
'applauding him all the way back.'
-As you walked back to the pavilion at the Oval...
-That's what you were thinking?
-Yes! I'm in again. I'm here.
I walked off, the whole ground stood up, the whole ground stood up.
-'There can be no prouder man than Basil D'Oliveira...'
I've done it now.
I've done it now. It's all come right.
It's all come right. I was in the shower and the door opened.
Colin came in and said, "Well played, really well played.
"You looked good. The side's going to be announced on Tuesday.
"You're going to be in it. I'm going to back you."
I said, "OK, fine." He says, "Can you imagine what's going to happen?"
I says, "No, I can't, and neither can you, because you don't know.
"But I'll tell you one thing, I'm not scared of the situation.
"I'll handle my corner, you handle yours, and we'll see it through."
The match itself would have an extraordinary finale.
I was here in 1968, and it's still, 35 years on,
in the top five of my most memorable matches, for its own sake,
quite apart from the political aftermath,
which probably took away from what was a sensational final day.
-'A couple of minutes before lunch, at 86-5,
'the players went off for the first drop of a thunder shower which,
'in less than an hour, reduced the Oval to a series of minor lakes.'
All hope was lost. The Australian journalists had filed their stories
that they'd won the series, since this was going to be a draw.
They were saying, "Send her down, Hughie," as it poured down.
Then the public went out and helped to make it just about playable.
'May we wonder whether they would have found quite so many volunteers
'if the positions of England and Australia had been reversed?
'Play could start at 4.45, with an hour and a quarter left.
'Australia had no chance of scoring 266.
'England wanted five more wickets.
'It only seemed possible if the drying wicket misbehaved.
'It never did - it was too wet.
'Cowdrey set an unheard-of field, and shuffled through his bowlers
'hopefully, but with no advantage for 40 minutes...'
This was to be a great day for English cricket,
and D'Oliveira was to play a decisive role.
'Then D'Oliveira, his fifth bowler since play re-started,
'floated one past Jarman, and clipped away the off bail...'
CHEERING 'He's out!
'There's the first wicket. D'Oliveira has got it...'
He didn't get a lot of wickets, but he got some key wickets.
And that was the flood gates opening up.
Cowdrey brought Underwood on at this end,
and he finished with seven for.
'He's out, caught...!
'Ooh, he's out, is he? Caught!'
It was a shaker. We were shaking with excitement.
-'He's got him! Off stump knocked out of the ground.
'Australia are 120-9, with just one wicket to go,
'and ten minutes and a half left.'
Getting Inverarity in the last over of the day.
-'They appeal, and he's out!
'England have won! And the series is drawn!
'There's Colin Cowdrey, the happiest man on the field...'
-'So, the 1968 series, a series all too full of rain
'and frustration, had ended in sunshine,
'and on a high-dramatic note.'
HENRY BLOFELD: Here we have the England captain.
What a marvellous finish it was, Colin...
I've done it. I've got to be picked.
How the hell can they not pick me as one of the 16?
I've done enough, and I will do some more.
When you pick the side, will you allow yourself to be influenced
-by anything other than cricket?
We've got to sit down in about 45 minutes' time in fact
and pick the best team in England which will beat South Africa.
And so, highly politically charged thing is left to the selectors.
-He was worried about the politics.
-Yes, very much.
But he told me he'd back me.
He did tell me emphatically he was going to back me.
-Do you think he really did?
-I think he would have done, yes.
FRANK BOUGH: 'With the selectors in session, D'Oliveira waits in silence
'to hear whether he will achieve his ambition
'of playing Test cricket in the country of his birth.'
And then came the bombshell. The MCC committee dropped him.
They didn't have to bring him back for the Oval Test.
He's scored 158, and they haven't picked him to tour South Africa!
We as coloured cricketers accused the English authorities
of bowing down to our government here.
-Why do you think you weren't selected?
-I think I was set up.
They hadn't a lot to do. I'd given it all to them.
It was on a plate. I was set up. They had a golden opportunity.
From documents in Prime Minister Vorster's archive in South Africa,
which have now been opened, we can reconstruct what actually happened
The powers that be at the MCC had known for some time
that to choose D'Oliveira would mean the cancellation of the tour
and would open the Pandora's box about the general question
of English cricket's relationship with South Africa.
Had the selectors been told that if he was selected,
the tour would go up in smoke? That's the smoking gun thing.
Unknown to anybody at the time, the ruling elite at the MCC
had been in contact all year with the apartheid authorities
in what amounted to a conspiracy to allow the tour to go ahead.
Alec Douglas-Home and Colin Cowdrey were at the centre of it.
Douglas-Home told Cowdrey - this is in the summer of 1968 -
"We wanted relationships kept as warm as possible in the current climate."
He didn't want to put unnecessary pressure on the Vorster government.
The way to overcome the difficulties presented by apartheid
and the South African policies
is to have as many contacts as possible.
The MCC wrote to the SA Cricket Association at the start of 1968,
saying, "Are we free to select who we want to select on this tour?"
We sent a warning that we expected the South African government
to accept the tour in its entirety.
Sir Alec Douglas-Home had seen Vorster in Cape Town,
and Vorster had told him,
"If you ask me to guarantee I'll let D'Oliveira in, my answer must be no."
Douglas-Home goes back to the MCC committee personally,
and says, "Look, don't ask for guarantees now."
Douglas-Home had ulterior motives for wanting the MCC
to be compliant with the South Africans.
His was a wider, political agenda.
He was trying to get South Africa on board for dealing with Smith
and UDI, in Rhodesia.
He felt that if you pressed Vorster into a corner on the sports issue,
he'd be more embattled, and less willing to help the British
in dealing with the Rhodesian problem.
There is further incriminating evidence that the MCC knew full well
that D'Oliveira would never be acceptable to the South Africans.
Vorster sends a direct message to the MCC via Lord Cobham, to the effect,
"Don't even think about it."
Select D'Oliveira, and we won't let him in - the tour will be cancelled.
Cobham's message was fatal for D'Oliveira's chances.
The information is handed to the trio who control the MCC -
to Griffith, secretary of the MCC,
to Gilligan, who's president,
and to Gubby Allen, who's treasurer,
that D'Oliveira will never be acceptable to Vorster.
But were the selectors themselves told about Cobham's message?
-His view was never passed on to the selectors?
You never heard about it until after...
That's right. Mmm.
-which minutes have gone missing?
-The minutes of the selection committee.
-What's happened to them?
-They're not available in the Lord's archive.
But we do know that the meeting went on for about five hours.
There was a chairman and three other selectors, and the captain.
In fact, there were at least ten people in that room at Lord's.
The MCC always provided observers,
to make sure that touring teams would be acceptable to their hosts.
-Who were the MCC observers?
-On that occasion - it varied every year -
Gubby Allen and Arthur Gilligan, both former England captains.
Clearly, Gubby Allen and Gilligan knew
that if D'Oliveira was selected, there would be no tour,
that Vorster would not accept him.
How they conveyed this, or didn't convey it to the selectors
is one of the things that we don't know.
Though we may not know what was said at the meeting,
something can be discerned from the backgrounds of those present.
Gilligan, who was the president in 1968,
back in the 1930s had been a member of the British Union of Fascists,
and had contributed an article for their magazine
about the role of cricket tours, saying something to the effect that
cricket tours strengthened the bonds of kinship, by which he meant,
as the Fascists did, the bonds of racial kinship
among white people in the Empire.
They've always denied that there was a political discussion.
There were no real views as such.
For weeks, we'd been having messages from all sorts of sources
about whether it would be a good idea, and what might happen.
And the messages coming from Pretoria were never louder
than during that summer's Lord's Test against the Australians.
The South African Cricket Association's Arthur Coy,
a confidant of Prime Minister Vorster, was there.
Arthur Coy is sent over for the Lord's Test.
He's a guest of Lord Cobham,
who is considered a major friend of South African cricket.
And he speaks to people like Gilligan and Gubby Allen
off the record, that D'Oliveira would not be acceptable.
So, the president of the MCC knew.
And the treasurer of the MCC knew.
And the secretary of the MCC knew. Al were at the selection meeting.
-What was the issue about D'Oliveira?
-Well, he was a black South African.
Well, erm, a coloured South African.
South Africa didn't allow coloured South Africans to...to, er...
play a part in their...
in their national sporting scene - it's as easy as that.
Doug Insole was chairman of the selectors who picked the team.
The others were Peter May, Alec Bedser, Don Kenyon
and, ex officio, the captain, Colin Cowdrey.
We can reveal that the only person who stood up for D'Oliveira
was Don Kenyon.
At the time of that selection, he had a Test batting average of 50.
An enormously high average, up there with the really great
IVA Ri..., I mean, it's superb.
He had very strong credentials, there's no question.
He was a very useful cricketer, and very popular in the side,
and that's why we picked him.
When the time came, we didn't pick him.
Doug Insole, what way do you reckon he voted?
Well, it appeared in the paper, didn't it?
As far as he was concerned, they picked the best side.
Ludicrously, the justification was the D'Oliveira's bowling
would be ineffective on South African wickets.
-What about Alec Bedser?
-He's an important figure in this.
He later became a founder member of the Freedom Association,
which was a right-wing pressure group,
partly funded by the apartheid regime in South Africa,
as was declared in their accounts at the time,
for the purpose of lobbying in Britain for apartheid,
and for the South African system of white domination.
And here he was playing a key role in the decision
of whether to include Basil D'Oliveira in this tour.
They won't admit it was politics, and I'm sure for them it wasn't politics.
They believe they chose that team on merit.
But they were also aware, if they had included D'Oliveira,
the tour would have been cancelled.
It's a failure of moral imagination by the selectors.
Mind you, that is not what you choose them for.
They should have understood that the only thing to do
was to send Basil D'Oliveira back to South Africa.
Pressure mounted, inside and outside the MCC.
While they insisted that cricket should transcend politics,
and should not be tainted by this awful, murky world
of political intrigue and pressure groups,
what they're really saying is that only one kind of politics
should be allowed to taint cricket.
They were happy to have cricket tainted
by the racial politics of apartheid.
It's inner workings was laid open.
People began to question how the MCC worked, how cricket was run.
In the past, the MCC had always managed to avoid this.
You know, there's a concept of Englishness which cricket generates.
It can't take in all other concepts.
When you have such a basic clash that apartheid produced, it can't cope.
What it seeks to do is to disguise the basic clashes,
and say, "Ah, did he play correctly? Did he wear the right clothes?
"Were his flannels clean or not?"
Not whether it's right or wrong on essential moral issues.
Then came the twist.
Tom Cartwright, who had been chosen in preference to D'Oliveira,
turned out to be injured.
Now, this was the real catalyst of what happened with that tour.
He was never fit to be selected, because of a shoulder problem.
I knew that, yet the selectors took medical advice that he WAS fit.
Cartwright pulled out, and the selectors, who had been shocked
at the national outcry at D'Oliveira's non-selection,
now had no option but to choose him.
We were so happy. Now we can see Basil play at Newlands.
We were elated, but the South African government wasn't!
It was difficult. It became a make-up job,
a job that's not clean any more to me.
Now, they were clearly daring to pick a man
who, surely, was not going to be easily accepted
by the then government of South Africa.
And indeed, D'Oliveira's selection was to be a fateful decision.
His initial non-selection had let Vorster off a huge political hook.
The MCC selection committee made their choice on merit...
So they said, time and again,
and I accept that statement.
But, the moment the decision was known,
there was an outcry.
An outcry because a certain gentleman of colour
was omitted on merit by the MCC selection committee.
From then on, sir, D'Oliveira was no longer a sportsman...
but a cricket ball.
He claimed D'Oliveira was forced on the MCC by political pressure.
The team...as constituted now...
is not the team of the MCC.
It is the team of the anti-apartheid movement.
-He'd been let off the hook.
His cabinet had already decided the tour would be off.
I now say on behalf of South Africa,
whereas we were always prepared to play host to the MCC,
we are not prepared to receive a team thrust upon us.
-His prohibiting D'Oliveira
meant that he was able to appease that right-wing opinion,
and keep his leadership intact.
He can't... He can't play.
-He can't come to South Africa.
-That was sad.
That was sad.
Sir Alec, what's your first reaction to Premier Vorster's announcement?
Well, one of disappointment for British cricket.
It'll be a long time before another tour can go to South Africa,
if Mr Vorster's words are final.
What would have happened if there hadn't been all the ballyhoo
about Mr D'Oliveira's non-selection, I don't know,
they might have taken the team, but this is a sad day for cricket.
The MCC committee decided unanimously
that the tour will not take place.
We were bitterly disappointed, but we admired the English authorities then
for cancelling the tour, and not saying they'd go without Basil.
The South African government had introduced race into sport.
Not even Hitler's Germany could prevent Jesse Owens running
in the 1936 Olympics - he actually ran in the Nazi Olympics in Berlin.
But under the South African system,
non-whites just did not play representative matches in any form.
The D'Oliveira issue crystallised it into one single issue of a man
who has chosen England, made his home here, proved himself,
gets selected, then a Prime Minister of a country making a speech
to his party congress, becoming an English cricket selector and saying,
"No, you can't select him."
It then became very symbolic in how sport and politics interact,
and in how sport and race interact.
Even those who were not political in South Africa, an average cricket fan,
who believed politics should be separate from cricket,
and adhered to that out of principle, were also angry
that a top England cricketer - that's what he'd become by 1968 -
was actually being excluded on an instruction of a foreign government.
-'As the tour was finally bowled out by politics,
'D'Oliveira signed copies of his book.'
I would have been the only one, up till now,
who could have gone there, played on these grounds,
and mixing with people I, or the other non-whites in South Africa,
'had never been allowed to mix with before.
'If you go there, meet them on the same plane, the cricketing plane,
'say, a cocktail party, or on the field, or in the hotel,
'you're talking to people all the time,
'and you can put across to them that non-whites
'are not such bad people to live with.'
From then until even now, as I go round the world,
"You were set up." I still deny it because of my love for the game.
I don't want to destroy people. I want good cricket, and good players.
As far as I'm concerned, I've always abided by the laws made at Lord's
by administrators - I think Mr Billy Griffith's
and his colleagues, who make decisions, are men of integrity
and men that can be trusted all the way.
One of the great roles that he played in British society
is that he helped alert people to the existence of apartheid,
to the existence of a social system in South Africa that was nightmarish
Basil was instrumental in all the outside sporting bodies
taking a stand against South Africa in terms of the politics.
Basil D'Oliveira's exclusion from the English cricket tour
at the instructions of the South African government
ignited real indignation in me.
It lit a fuse of real anger
that the cricket authorities here in England could still announce
they were inviting a white South African team, barely a year later.
The D'Oliveira scandal was the match which lit the successful
"Stop The '70 Tour" campaign, led by Peter Hain.
Basil D'Oliveira, as a victim of apartheid, actually helped,
perhaps unwittingly, to bring down sports apartheid at least.
Peter Hain and these guys got it right.
The way to bring about change was to do it through the sport.
The world sporting boycott moved this country faster to normalisation
than any other activity.
Because, you know, economic boycotts were...were, really...
in word only.
Once there wasn't international sport,
people starting saying, "Well, we want sport, we must make changes
"to bring it about." I think they got it absolutely right.
After the Australian tour of '79/'70, it was wilderness for 22 years,
It became such that those who played the sport in South Africa
on international level, they felt the pinch.
They were not having visitors, they were not welcome elsewhere.
So things had to change. And sport played a very valuable part
in the changeover of the set-up in this country.
In 2003, South Africa completed her international rehabilitation
into world sport, by hosting the cricket World Cup.
South African cricket is now united,
with equal opportunities for all cricketers, black and white.
It's a sports-mad country, and the isolation polities,
which gained momentum
and did isolate South Africa in sport, culture, and economically
had its effect, its impact on South Africa,
and ultimately saw the destruction of the racist regime.
The opening ceremony of the cricket World Cup was held at Newlands,
the Test ground in Cape Town,
where the young D'Oliveira was never allowed to play.
To symbolise the new democracy, he and the great batsman Graeme Pollock
led the parade of South African sporting heroes.
History will record the enormous role he played...
..in ultimately bringing down the apartheid government.
Basil had to go and show Vorster,
"This is what we can do." And he did it...
like nobody else could.
When Basil walked out at Newlands, that was a marvellous gesture.
He walked out first, ahead of Graeme.
The fact that he walked out first,
that put Basil in his rightful place, that's how I felt.
I just said, "OK, Bas?" "Yes."
I really felt... That was the day I felt, "Thank you, Lord."
-Ladies and gentlemen,
the teams of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003!
BASIL CHUCKLES Basil, you got to walk on Newlands.
I said I was going to do it, and you've backed me, and there we are.
Who knows? I might make a come-back!
Bearing in mind that Basil played Test cricket between 35 and 40,
he's got 2,500 runs, five centuries, 15 half-centuries,
he was Wisden Cricketer of the Year,
he scored the fastest century in Test cricket,
all at the age 35 and upwards.
Subtitles by BBC Broadcast - 2004
E-mail us at [email protected]
With explosive new evidence this film tells the full story of the D'Oliveira scandal, explaining the critical political role that cricket played in bringing about the fall of apartheid in South Africa.
In 1968, Basil D'Oliveira, a brilliant 'coloured' cricketer from South Africa who had made his home in the UK, found himself at the centre of a row that rocked the English political and sporting establishment. Excluded from the England team to tour South Africa - apparently because of his race - the 'D'Oliveira Affair' led directly to the sporting isolation of South Africa, which became crucial in bringing about the fall of the apartheid system of white rule in South Africa.
Set against the backdrop of the tumultuous events of 1968, this documentary tells the story of Basil D'Oliveira and his betrayal by the English establishment, as D'Oliveira himself speaks out for the first time.