Unsung heroes of apartheid sport remembered.

Author:Parker, Mushtak

South Africa's sports fraternity is celebrating the achievements of legendary black and coloured players who were excluded from national representation during the apartheid era. Mushtak Parker recalls the careers of four cricketers of a bygone age.

The names Sulaiman 'Dik' Abed, Ivan Dagnin, Saait Magiet and Michael Doman may not be familiar to cricket-lovers the world over, but to a generation of South Africans of colour, including me, they were our white-flannelledheroes during the 60s through the 80s.

They were excluded by an oppressive apartheid state from representing their country because sport was segregated along racial lines, which meant their achievements and talents were never afforded the national and international recognition and accolades that they rightly deserved.

As children of apartheid, we used to get our 'racial revenge' when we, as sports fans of colour, donned our school jackets to pack the segregated non-white enclaves at Newlands cricket and the adjoining rugby stadiums on test match days.

We were there only to support touring teams from New Zealand, Australia, the four British Home Countries and France, instead of the Proteas or Springboks, as if to show solidarity and in the process, two fingers to the very notion of apartheid in sports and society.

I can't think of any other country where the home fans were actively rooting for the visiting international sides, who were largely oblivious to the 'Game of Racial Tones' that was being played out on the terraces. Such were the vagaries of sporting history in apartheid South Africa.

In the past few months, the above-mentioned four iconic players that graced South Africa's cricket pitches have passed away. Since the collapse of apartheid in 1993 and the country's first democratic elections a year later, they, like countless fellow cricketers, sportsmen and administrators of colour, who suffered the humiliation of international sporting exclusion throughout most of the 20th century, have belatedly if not retrospectively been acknowledged and recognised.

Of this generation, it was only Basil D'Oliveira, 'Dollie' to his many fans and of mixed Indian-Portuguese heritage, who abandoned the shores of the fair Cape to attain that elusive national and international recognition, when he was picked to play for England on the basis of residency.

Later he was rejected by the diehard apartheid Prime Minister John Vorster, when he was chosen as a last-minute replacement for the...

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