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Just watched a fantastic documentary on BBC4. That is dangerously close to a cliche, since almost every documentary I've seen on BBC4 has been fantastic.

Not Cricket tells the story of the Basil D'Oliveira conspiracy. This was the moment, in 1968, that the "cricket ignores politics" fallacy the MCC clutches close to its gold and red ties first cracked*. Check the links for full details but it was D'Oliveira's race which led to the multilateral twenty year sporting boycott of South Africa and a raised awareness of what apartheid actually meant. One member of the '68 selection committee had been a member of Mosley's fascists in the 1930s, another went on to lead the freedom pressure group, who Lefties with long memories will recall was a pro-apartheid group in the UK (and which I can't seem to google up). Curiously, the minutes of that selection meeting are missing.

The various cricket boards still try to claim that sport and politics don't mix, hence their refusal to boycott outright Zimbabwe from international cricket. Ironically, one reason Douglas Hume, chairman of the MCC in '68, went along with the exclusion of D'Oliveira from the English team was that he wanted Afrikaan PM Vorster to support the UK in not recognising Smith's white Rhodesian republic. This review also suggests the parallels between the situations whilst the Guardian's decision to start putting its archives online means this Arnott opinion piece written in '68 is available.

*they only finally broke down and let women join the club in 1998.

See? The BBC is educational. The documentary will be on again on 24th June and 29th June.

Posted @ 11:45 pm on Sunday, June 20, 2004
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