On 17 September 1968 the South African Prime Minister, John Vorster, announced that he would not accept Basil d'Oliveira as a member of the M.C.C. team, and a week later the tour was called off.
The M.C.C had made it clear in public statements that the touring side would be picked on merit and there could be no restrictions on who would be selected but behind the scenes Lord Cobham and Alec Douglas-Home strived not to force the issue which could cause South Africa to become isolated from sporting contact with the rest of the world. They hoped that, if D’Oliveira made himself unavailable by taking a coaching job, the tour could go ahead.
When the touring squad was announced and Basil D’Oliveira was omitted, despite scoring 158 for England in the Oval Test match, it was regarded as deeply suspicious. But the tour would have gone ahead but for Tom Cartwright withdrawing and D’Oliveira receiving a call-up as his replacement.
Vorster’s response was that South Africa was not prepared to receive a team thrust upon it by people with political objectives, saying it was not the MCC team but that of the anti-apartheid movement.
In July MCC had contacted about thirty players as usual to ask whether they were available to tour but Basil D’Oliveira did not receive an enquiry.
Tour party announced : 27 August 1968.
Chairman Doug Insole explained that the selectors regarded D’Oliveira "from an overseas tour point of view as a batsman rather than an all-rounder,” and that there was no room for Colin Milburn either.
One fast bowler would be added to the squad later.
Withdrew: Tom Cartwright (after medical opinion on his injured shoulder) withdrew on 16 September.
Basil D'Oliveira and fast bowler Jeff Jones were added to the touring party later that day.
Insole’s earlier justification about D’Oliveira being regarded as a batsman in overseas conditions made choosing him to replace a bowler, Cartwright, inconsistent and Vorster said it was politically motivated. The MCC Secretary said there was no bowler of Cartwright’s specialist abilities available so the balance of the touring side had to be altered.
Time between selection and planned departure from England
(27 August - 6 November)
The MCC team were due to land in Johannesburg on 6 November 1968 and to fly back on 9 March 1969
Time due to be spent in South Africa
(6 November - 9 March)
On 26 May M.C.C revealed the tour programme.
The customary two matches in Rhodesia had been dropped from the tour itinerary on government advice because of Rhodesia Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI)
North-Eastern Transvaal Country Districts (2-day)
South African Invitation XI
South African Universities
SOUTH AFRICAFirst Test
SOUTH AFRICASecond Test
Western Province Country Districts(2-day)
Orange Free State
North Eastern Transvaal
SOUTH AFRICAThird Test
ϯ Graaf Reinet
South African Country Districts (2-day)
SOUTH AFRICAFourth Test
South African Invitation XI
SOUTH AFRICAFifth Test
South Africa(limited overs)
� not first-class
Time due to be spent in South Africa before First Test:
(6 November - 21 December)
Accounts of the cancellation
“The D’Oliveira Affair”by Basil D’Oliveira(Collins 1969)
“Cricket in isolation: The politics of race and cricket in South Africa”by Andre Odendaal (self-published, 1977)
“Time to Declare”by Basil D`Oliveira(J M Dent, 1980)
“Cricket and Race”by Jack Williams(Berg, Oxford, 2001)
“The Story of an African Game: Black Cricketers and the Unmasking of one of Cricket's Greatest Myths”by André Odendaal (David Philip Publishers. Cape Town, 2003)
“Caught Behind: Race And Politics In Springbok Cricket”by Bruce K Murray, Christopher Merrett, (University of KwaZulu-Natal Press Press, Johannesburg, 2004).
“Basil D'Oliveira, Cricket and Conspiracy: The Untold Story”by Peter Oborne (Little, Brown, 2004)
“Cricket at the Crossroads : Class, Colour and Controversy from 1967 to 1977”by Guy Fraser-Sampson (Elliot and Thompson,2011).