CRICKETING legend and one of Worcester’s most famous adopted sons Basil D’Oliveira will be honoured with the freedom of the city by council chiefs, almost seven years after he passed away.
Mayor of Worcester Coun Jabba Riaz will present the prestigious honour to Basil’s son Shaun D’Oliveira before the cricketing icon’s name is revealed on the Guildhall honours board at a ceremony on Friday (September 14).
The accolade will be made 50 years after the so-called D’Oliveira Affair, which prompted a sporting boycott of apartheid South Africa.
Basil D’Oliveira was of Indian-Portugese descent and was born into a Catholic family in South Africa in 1931. A keen cricketer from an early age, he played in South Africa’s national non-white team before emigrating to England in 1960. He joined Worcestershire County Cricket Club in 1964 and was first selected for the England team in 1966.
In 1968 the England team was due to play in a tour of South Africa. D’Oliveira was initially not selected because of South Africa’s apartheid rules. However, there was national outrage in the British press and D’Oliveira was then called up to the England squad. South Africa responded by cancelling the tour.
The D’Oliveira Affair was a watershed in the sporting boycott of apartheid South Africa. It led to a dramatic turn in international opinion against the South African regime and is credited as being a landmark on the road to the eventual fall of apartheid in the early 1990s.
“Basil D’Oliveira became a symbol of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, linking Worcestershire cricket to international politics in the process,” Coun Riaz said.
“Millions of people around the world owe him a debt of gratitude – it will be a great honour to posthumously award the Freedom of the City of Worcester to his family.”