How the D’Oliveira affair affected SA cricket

The 1960s were turbulent years for cricket in this country, but by the end of the decade there was no doubt that SA was the number one cricket team in the world.

But with ever-widening political opposition, no-one was prepared to play against them.

In 1968, the so-called D’Oliveira affair scuppered the proposed 1968/69 tour by England to SA, and 18 months later, in 1970, isolation of cricket contact with SA began.

This lasted almost 22 years.

Back in late 1961, John Reid, the burly captain of New Zealand, brought a talented team to these shores and a highly entertaining series of five Test matches was fought.

New Zealand won their first Test match overseas at Newlands in the third Test and then won the fifth and final Test in Port Elizabeth to draw the series 2-2.

Some great players graced the SA team during the decade.

These included fast bowlers Peter Pollock, Joe Partridge, Godfrey Lawrence and Mike Procter; all-rounders Eddie Barlow and Tiger Lance; ace fielder Colin Bland; batsman Graeme Pollock and wicketkeeper-batsman Denis Lindsay.

RISING STAR: Legend Graeme Pollock is one of the many cricketers whose careers were stalled in SA because of the international sporting boycott against SA’s apartheid government. The SA team were cut off from international cricket for 22 years
Picture: RAYMOND PRESTON

At the same time, old hands Jackie McGlew, John Waite and Roy McLean were on hand to guide the emerging youngsters of the early 1960s.

Outstanding all-rounder Trevor Goddard returned to SA from England and was selected to lead a team of young hopefuls against the might of Australia.

Pollock, a 19-year-old left-handed batsman, who was to become a legend in the game, was selected as well.

Pollock started the series very quietly, but then scored 122 in the third Test and another century in the fourth at Adelaide, which was won by 10 wickets by SA.

Pollock (175) and Barlow (201) added 341 for the third wicket at Adelaide, a record which stands to this day. The series was drawn 1-1.

Three Tests were then drawn with New Zealand and the next summer, England, led by Mike Smith, visited SA, winning a lacklustre series 1-0 after beating SA convincingly by an innings in the first Test.

But things changed in 1965 when SA visited England for a three-Test series under new captain Peter van der Merwe.

The series was won 1-0, with the second Test at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, a personal family success story for the Pollocks.

Graeme scored 125 and Peter captured 10 wickets in the match (5/53 and 5/34) and SA came out on top by 94 runs.

During the period 1966/67 to 1969/70, Australia played nine Tests in SA, with the home team winning the 1966/67 series 3-1 with one Test drawn, and the second series 4-0.

Lindsay was SA’s most successful batsman in 1966/67, savaging the Australian bowling with scores of 182, 137 and 131 in the series and finishing with 606 runs (average 86.57), the best for SA against Australia.

SA, again under Van der Merwe, won the series 3-1 with one Test drawn heavily in favour of the home team.

Then, in 1968, Cape Town-born Basil D’Oliveira had moved to England to play top-class cricket but was not originally picked to tour SA. But after Tom Cartwright was injured, D’Oliveira was selected.

SA prime minister BJ Vorster denounced the squad as the “team of the anti-apartheid movement” and refused to allow them to enter SA with D’Oliveira included. The tour was immediately cancelled.

In 1970, under a new skipper in Ali Bacher, SA outplayed Australia 4-0.

In the second Test at Kingsmead, Durban, Graeme Pollock scored 274, a new individual batting record which stood until 1999.

During the 1970 series, Peter Pollock and fiery fast bowler Mike Procter, who captured 26 wickets in the series (average 13.57), well supported by the veteran Goddard, left the Australian batting line-ups in tatters throughout the series.

The gate to international cricket for SA was then shut.

Only in late 1991, was SA able to tour India for a series of one-day matches under Clive Rice, and then participated in the 1992 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Test cricket was resumed against the West Indies in 1992 and then against India at home in 1992/93.

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