Basil Returns to Newlands

D’Oliveira returns to same old Newlands

Cape Town, February 9:

Officialdom knows a thing or two about how to snub past heroes. On the opening night of the 2003 World Cup, Basil D’Oliveira was given a heroes reception at Newlands as one of the African sports ambassadors. Some 14 hours later as South Africa and the West Indies battled for honours before a packed house in the opening game of the tournament, D’Oliveira, wearing a suit, was handed a ‘service ticket’, which carried no seat number, and told to sit in the open area of the sun-baked North Stand.
Flown out from England as a guest of the 2003 Cricket World Cup organising committee to share in the spectacular and pulsating lavish opening ceremony, the harsh reality of being treated no better than a common worker was an ironic touch. Ironic that is for a man who 35 years ago was banned by the apartheid laws from playing cricket in the country of his birth because of his colour.
There is no doubt that on Saturday’s blustery night opening night, as he strolled around the ground on which he was never allowed to play and given a standing ovation at a venue overflowing with appreciation and bonhomie, he felt a little happier after years of subjugation inflicted by the inhumane laws.
But the man who took his twin all-round talents to England and eventually won a number of Test caps for his adopted country, was the morning after the grand event seen by 1.4-billion on TV worldwide, treated no better than the indentured labourer which was the lot of his descents. A well-placed Western Province Cricket Association source said an official had been alerted to the D’Oliveira snub and had reacted by finding tickets available for the Cape Town-born all-rounder and his two companions, John and Norma King. They were found space in the ‘Century Club’.
Informed sources said that D’Oliveira had been led to believe that they would be sitting in a VIP area put aside for those ‘ambassadors’. The shock came moments after the envelope was opened and the ‘invitation’ of the Ali Bacher-run organisation indicated that the seat allocation included a ‘service ticket admit one’ and two for designated seats in the north stand.
Trevor Chesterfield

Courtesy of Indian