Cooling his heels in Istanbul last week through no fault of his own, Bob Borsley used some of the time to compose this cricket memory:
The second Test between England and the West Indies in 1966 was notable in more than one way. For me the most important feature of the match was the return to the English side at the age of 39 of Tom Graveney, but also of considerable importance was the debut at the age of 34 of Basil D'Oliveira.
I probably first read of him in 1961. After making a name for himself in South Africa, D'Oliveira emigrated to England in 1960 at the suggestion of John Arlott and joined Worcestershire in 1964. It was clear that he was a very talented cricketer, and when the selectors were looking for ways to strengthen the team after defeat in the first Test in 1966 he was called up. He came in to join Jim Parks when Graveney was out for 96 and England were 203 for 5 in reply to West Indies' 269. With his calm demeanour and his distinctive low backlift, he looked at home straightaway. Parks and D'Oliveira had added 48 when a drive from Parks went off D'Oliveira's heel and hit the wicket. Unfortunately for D'Oliveira, bowler Wes Hall picked up the ball and pulled up a stump before he could regain his ground. Thus, a promising innings was cut short.
In the next two Tests D'Oliveira showed that he was indeed at home in Test cricket with scores of 76 and 54 in the 3rd Test and 88 in the 4th Test, and he was a more or less regular member of the team until 1972. Arguably his most significant innings was his 158 in the fifth Test in 1968, which led to the D'Oliveira affair. Thus, a cricketer who might have been a regular member of the South African team from the mid-1950s was central to events which led to South Africa's exclusion from Test cricket. Few could have imagined in 1966 or 1968 that England and South Africa would be competing for the Basil D'Oliveira Trophy in the next century.
Contemporary accounts of the incident.
Their stand, with Dolly doing the pace-making, was two short of 50 when D'Oliveira was out in tragic circumstances. Parks drove Hall towards mid-on and D'Oliveira, standing wide of the crease, tried to hop out of the way but was struck on the heel. The ball rebounded on to the stumps with D'Oliveira still out of his ground. He hesitated for a split second, wondering whether he had been run out. But, of course, Hall had not touched the ball. He was not out... - John Clarke and Brian Scovell, Everything That's Cricket
Even the new ball did not disturb Parks and D'Oliveira, and their partnership of 48 was in full sail when Parks drove back so fast that the ball went off D'Oliveira's heel and bounced back from the broken wicket. Hall, with commendable presence of mind, swept up the ball and pulled up the stump with both hands without the South African making any attempt to recover his ground. - Wisden 1967
It was a thousand to one chance and a body-blow to England... Dolly turned to fling himself back but he wasn't quick enough, couldn't be quick enough for the reflexes of Hall... Yet it was appalling bad luck for England. Dolly had made 27 good-looking runs and looked as if he had many more in his bat. He was applauded as he walked back, not only by the crowd, but by us, too. - Gary Sobers, King Cricket
Are the volcanic origins of the post evident anywhere in its content? I leave you to decide.
[For links to the other posts in this series, see here.]