At a time when South Africa had the strongest and most entertaining team in international cricket, protests against the apartheid system were edging them into sporting isolation.
This tour of Australia was to have lasted 17 weeks beginning with a match at Perth on 22 October. The New Zealand leg was cancelled at an early stage when the South African Cricket Association learned that several top players would not be prepared to extend the tour there.
The Australian Board chairman Sir Donald Bradman said that the matches would be billed as ‘international’ matches because “Tests” should be a title reserved for fixtures between member countries of the I C C.
On 2 April 1971 a proposal from the South African Cricket Association (SACA) to include two non-white cricketers in the squad to tour Australia was rebuffed by the Government. The non-white South African Cricket Board of Control called it “apartheid in reverse: “thirteen players being picked on merit and two because they are not white!”
Next day a government-sponsored match to mark the tenth anniversary of the Republic of South Africa, between Transvaal, the Currie Cup champions, and a Rest of South Africa XI captained by Graeme Pollock was due to take place at Cape Town.
Transvaal won the toss and elected to bat. After Barry Richards played the first delivery from Procter for a single, the two batsmen and the fielding side all trooped off the ground. A statement jointly penned by the two teams was given out: “We fully support the South African Cricket Association’s application to invite non-whites to tour Australia, if they are good enough; and further subscribe to merit being the only criterion on the cricket field.”
After making their demonstration the players returned to the ground and continued the match. Frank Waring, the South African Minister for Sport, dismissed their protest as: “merely a gesture for overseas consumption,” and even Hasan Howa dismissed it as a stunt to save the tour.
The Australian Government in Canberra deplored the South African government’s decision to exclude non-whites from its side to visit Australia but did not yet go as far as to ban the tour ϯ.
When it became clear that political groups, the church and trades unions would boycott the visit or deprive the tourists of the use of facilities, the Australian Cricket Board decided on 8 September 1971 “with great regret” to cancel the forthcoming South African tour of Australia.
The reasons given included that it would create internal bitterness and provoke vociferous disruption from minority groups, as well as place extreme demands upon the police force.
Minister Frank Waring said that he would never allow multi-racial cricket in South Africa despite the cancellation of the Springbok tour. "Springbok teams have always been white, and will remain so.”