There have been innumerable biographies of cricketers. Peter Oborne's outstanding biography of Basil D'Oliveira is something else. It brings together sport, politics and race. It is the story of how a black South African defied incredible odds and came to play cricket for England, of how a single man escaped from apartheid and came to fulfil his prodigious sporting potential. It is a story of the conquest of racial prejudice, both in South Africa and in the heart of the English sporting establishment.
The story comes to its climax in the so-called D'Oliveira Affair of 1968, when John Vorster, the South African Prime Minister, banned the touring MCC side because of the inclusion of a black man. This episode marked the start of the twenty-year sporting isolation of South Africa that ended only with the collapse of apartheid itself.