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Basil D'Oliveira: Cricket and Conspiracy: The Untold Story Hardcover – 17 Jun 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown; 1st Edition 1st Printing edition (17 Jun. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316725722
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316725729
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 2.6 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 186,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

It is an inspirational story and one which never fails to move this reader (Michael Parkinson, DAILY TELEGRAPH)

Oborne tells this remarkable story with the tautness of a thriller and the focus of a political tract. If you are at all interested in either cricket or humanity, I guarantee that you will read his book at one sitting. (Peter Wilby, NEW STATESMAN)

It is a masterpiece of research and reconstruction of the most significant sporting uprising of our times (DAILY MAIL)

As this stunning book makes very clear, principled people acting together can sniff out the essential truth and make the difference. Read it and risk being inspired to do the same. (IRELAND TRIBUNE)

Book Description

* WINNER OF THE WILLIAM HILL SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD 2004
* Controversial and revelatory biography of the South African-born cricketer who played for England and was banned from touring his native country

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a fantastic book, telling the story of Basil D'Oliveira's desire to play cricket in the face of apparently insurmountable odds. It is a remarkable story: a triumph of will and talent in the face of adversity.
I am a little too young to remember the D'Oliveira affair clearly but this book does an excellent job of describing how he became an England cricketer and puts 'the affair' into the relevant political and cricket context.
The cricket first... as an ageing (now aged) cricket player and cricket fan I was struck by his amazing achievements on the cricket field. How in his thirties he came to England and was successful playing in the Lancashire leagues (having never played on a grass wicket before), how he made himself first a successful county player and then a successful test player at an age when most players have long since retired. I was also struck by the fact that we missed out on his best cricket years - if he had started his first class career when he should and given his ability to play under pressure, it is easy to believe that his achievements would be legendary. Furthermore, the book successfully explores and explodes the myth of South African cricket being a white only game. It is a tragedy (for cricket and South African sport in general) that D'Oliveira's contemporaries were denied the opportunity to play at the highest level.
The politics... the book does an excellent job describing the oppression in South Africa and the notion that sport and politics in South Africa could be separated is thoroughly debunked. A particularly chilling aspect of apartheid was how it brainwashed all its citizens, irrespective of race, into believing that it was normal.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My interest in cricket began in the early 1970s, just after the D'Oliveira affair. I always wondered, as a boy, why South Africa were excluded from sport and, obviously, I've learned a lot as I've got older. Like most people, I had a basic understanding of South Africa's apartheid policy. However, reading this book has made me realise the massive odds that Basil D'Oliveira overcame in order to achieve his ambitions and to beat his own country's apartheid system.
That he survived great traumas, in South Africa and England, is a testimony to a great sportsman and a man with great strength of character. Read this book and you will learn a lot - it is one of, if not the, best books about sport that I have read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
D’Oliveira found himself at the centre of a sporting and political controversy that made him arguably one of the sports stars who has had the biggest impact beyond the world of sport. His status as a ‘coloured’ person led him to leave his native South Africa during the Apartheid era to seek cricket elsewhere, where racial barriers could be overcome. He was so successful in England that he was chosen for the English national side, but the South African refusal to accept D’Oliveira on tour led to a wider sporting boycott against South Africa, making it a pariah state.

In this biography, Oborne draws upon state documents, together with D’Oliveira’s own reflections, to unpick the murky machinations of the British and South African governments and cricket authorities. It is accessibly written and draws sensible judgements. A brilliant sports book with wider themes.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In his review of this book Mike Atherton stated that "as with all great sports books this is about more than sport" and he is totally correct as this is an important book which will be savoured by those interested in cricket, politics, social justice and humanity alike. I was brought up around the time that D'Oliveira made his way in English cricket and as a boy I had no idea of the barriers he had had to overcome to get there and had little knowledge of what apartheid was and meant.

His achievements were staggering as were the political machinations employed to ensure the cancellation of the MCC tour to South Africa once he was belatedly selected in 1968 after Tom Cartwright's convenient injury. The most telling fact was that Basil was really a contemporary of an earlier generation of cricketers such as Hutton, Compton and Bailey yet he made his name in his early to mid thirties long after they had disappeared from the scene.

This is a humbling story of greatness and prejudice expertly researched and told by an excellent journalist and writer.

Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
Peter Oborne's book is a wonderful account of D'Oliveira's amazing struggle. At 250 pages, it is concise, and never overplays the story.

D'Oliveira's story is more remarkable than I, for one, realised before reading this book. Oborne makes a good case for D'Oliveira to be classed as a great player - for a player to return a Test batting average of over 40 after making their debut at the age of 34 is quite remarkable, as is the fact that D'Oliveira is one of the few players to have a Test batting average higher than their bowling average. Oborne also rates his 158 in the last Test of the 1968 series as the greatest innings ever played, considering the pressure D'Oliveira was under and the political impact it had. For me this is debatable, but he puts the case well, and it's an interesting assertion worth thinking about.

There's an awful lot in this comparatively short book. There is a lengthy section on the early years in South African 'racial' cricket, and a good account of the role of John Arlott as a kind of Fairy Godmother, giving D'Oliveira the chance to start a career in England. And like others here I was very touched indeed to read of his wife, Naomi, and the confusion she felt at the absence of signs in Britain to denote the facilities that blacks were allowed to use, and her fear at entering 'white' shops in Middleton, and her tears when she was received with great affection and warmth. The towns of Middleton and Worcester can stand tall given the role they played in this story.

The meat of the book, though, is an account of the summer of 1968, when D'Oliveira at the last moment made it almost impossible for the MCC not to pick him for the 1968/9 tour of South Africa, which they knew would inevitably cause the South African Government to cancel the tour.
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