Basil

Basil D’Olivera died.

It wasn’t sordid, there was no sexiness, he was just an old dude who was once important to a few people, who is now no longer with us.

I’m not going to talk about how great Basil was, because I don’t know. Like what happened with Roebuck, those who do know will line up to tell us because other than boxing no other sport has the writers and love of nostalgia to properly handle an obituary.

Basil seemed pretty good, and an average of 40 with bat and ball at Test level is pretty handy when you consider he might have been 43 when he played.

In fact, it’s the whole bullshitting about his age to beat the system that I love the best about him. Like Satchel Paige before him and 2 out of 3 Pakistanis after him, he used his age to fuck with people.

Basil played in that golden cricket time, when cricket was cricket. Players walked, had beers with each other, were amateur, sledging was barely heard of and the gentleman that played the game loved a touch of racism in cricket.

It was Basil’s career that showed the hypocrisy from both sides. And he did all while being a top player regardless of his age.

When people talk about the glory days of cricket, that pure beautiful time, Basil pops into my head, a man who was born to play Test Cricket, yet who at one time or another was not allowed to play in two different countries.

Cricket has always been just a little bit fucked up, which is part of its charm.

But it also helps to have men like Basil who will do whatever they have to do to play cricket at the top level.

Cricket is better just because Mr D’Oliveira played it.

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17 thoughts on “Basil

  1. Gana says:

    Was stalking/searching “Dravid” in your blog and read one of your 2008 entry that talked about all reporters having Dravid’s retirement column ready. May be time to update it again :)

  2. mediagag says:

    2 out of 3 Pakistanis? I am offended…That is far too conservative… Since Imran, the only ones I can think of with their actual ages are perhaps Asif, Misbah, Yasir Hameed, Salman Butt, Farhat and the Akmals… so thats like 10 out of almost 100 blokes that have played for pakistan…

    regardless, I did get the point. And it is a fitting tribute…

    As for racism, I guess, takes one to know one

  3. sachin says:

    yes yes yes ah very true indeed

  4. Warlock says:

    Basil was about as old as my dad, blacker than him, and a slightly better cricketer.

    Back in the 70s, I’m sure the counties on the receiving end of Barry Richards’ exquisite style of cricketing pederasty woulda said, many times, “Let the fucker play Test cricket for someone. Anyone!”

  5. Chintan says:

    Here is another good article on Basil.

  6. kirbyakasid says:

    I heard a story the other day that Basil walked passed a muslim man at a match and the man said to him “One day you will die, but your legend will live on forever”. I’m sure you’ve all heard it; it’s been quoted all over the place (except the Sun – not enough naked women in there) in the last week – but it’s nice; it’s fitting.

    Like you, I know little of D’Oliveira’s cricket but more about his impact – the race issue, the move to England, the tour that didn’t happen and all that. I think that is the important side, though. There’s more to being a great cricketer than just figures.

  7. yenjvoy says:

    Who is this Basil you speak of? He was known universally as “Dolly”.

  8. “Cricket has always been just a little bit fucked up, which is part of its charm.”

    Agreed – and always worth remembering when we lament how the game has changed for the worse. There have always been charlatans in charge doing their best to screw things up. And there’s always been a need for decent-minded people to stand up for the game.

  9. tracer007 says:

    People like Basil only remind us of the rich history cricket has had….how many present day cricketers will be fondly remembered in a 100 years time, beyond pure statistics?

    • jogesh99 says:

      Bhajji to Symonds – charming contributing to your rich heritage, but i dont recall any Aussie writer infering so.

  10. […] Cricket with Balls gets a bit misty-eyed over ‘Dolly’ […]

  11. Nick says:

    Is this blog dead or wht? :S

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