The D'Oliveira Affair 1968/9: Thirty years after

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Date
1999-05-10
Authors
Murray, Bruce
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Abstract
The 'D'Oliviera Affair' of 1968/9 was a decisive event in precipitating South Africa's isolation from international test match cricket. In the view of many at the time—and since—Basil D'Oliviera, the South African born Coloured cricketer who played for England, warranted inclusion in the MCC team to tour South Africa in 1968/9 when it was first selected on 27 August 1968. The fact that he was not included caused an uproar in Britain; the allegation made was that the selectors had not chosen the team purely on merit, but had instead capitulated to South Africa's apartheid government, which would have refused to admit an MCC team with D'Oliviera in it. When on 16 September Tom Cartwright, a medium-paced bowler, dropped out of the team through injury, D'Oliviera, regarded essentially a batsman who also bowled, was immediately selected in his place. As represented by the Vorster Government, this amounted to a capitulation by the MCC to political pressure from the anti-apartheid movement, and it refused to accept a team which it alleged was no longer that of the MCC. 'Whereas we are and always have been prepared to play host to the MCC', Vorster announced at the National Party congress in Bloemfontein on 17 September, 'we are not prepared to receive a team thrust on us by people whose interests are not the game but to gain political objectives which they do not even attempt to hide.' The tour was consequently cancelled, and a huge impetus given to the movement to exclude South Africa from test match cricket. As the Rand Daily Mail predicted, '[Mr Vorster's] decision to bar not only Basil D'Oliviera but the MCC team as a whole means, without a shadow of a doubt, South Africa's exclusion from the world of Test cricket'. Within three years that exclusion was complete. Throughout the 1960s the movement to ban South Africa from international sport had been building up momentum, spurred by the efforts of the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee (SANROC). Formed in October 1962, and moving into exile in 1966 when Dennis Brutus left South Africa for London on a one-way ticket, SANROC's primary focus was on the Olympic arena, where it sought to secure either non-racialism in South African sport, or failing that, the expulsion of South Africa from the Olympics and international sport more generally. In 1964, and again in 1968, South Africa was excluded from the Olympic Games. In cricket, however, South Africa's position still seemed reasonably secure.
Description
African Studies Seminar series. Paper presented 10 May 1999
Keywords
D'Oliveira, Basil,1934- , Discrimination in sports. South Africa. History. 20th century , Cricket. South Africa , Sports and state. South Africa
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